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Scientific Credibility


There are several layers of review and oversight for research studies like CPS-3. In the case of CPS-3, after review by scientists in our department, the study will be peer-reviewed by cancer researchers from many prominent universities and research institutions. This external review will be done formally through a CPS-3 Scientific Review Committee. In addition to the CPS-3 Scientific Review Committee, review and oversight of the study also will be done by the Emory University Institutional Review Board (IRB) and will continue throughout the study. The IRB is a research oversight committee charged with assuring, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in approved research studies. Even when a study has completed active work, the IRB continues to provide oversight while investigators analyze data from questionnaires or from biological samples that were collected. Ultimately, study results are published in peer-reviewed, high-quality medical and scientific journals.

An Overview of the Epidemiology Research Program

The Epidemiology Research Program consists of approximately 25 full-time staff members including 9 doctoral-level and 12 masters-level personnel. This group conducts, analyzes, and publishes original research on the causes and prevention of cancer. Current analyses rely primarily on the CPS-II population. CPS-II activities include ongoing tracking and follow-up of study participants, data collection and management, data editing and analysis, and reporting in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific meetings.



CPS Investigators

Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, CPS-3

Dr. Patel received a Master in Public Health from Emory University in 1997, and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology (2002) from the University of Southern California. She gained experience in epidemiology as a postdoctoral fellow at the American Cancer Society in the Epidemiology Research Program (2002-2004) prior to becoming a Senior Epidemiologist in the Epidemiology Research Program. Her primary area of interest is the role of physical activity in cancer prevention. Her work has also focused on a variety of lifestyle and genetic risk factors in pancreatic, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

Susan M. Gapstur, Ph.D.
Vice President of Epidemiology

Dr. Gapstur received her Master's in Public Health (MPH) and her Ph.D. (1993) in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. She began her academic career as an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois in 1994. She subsequently was promoted to Associate and then Full Professor, and also assumed the role of Associate Director of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Dr. Gapstur recently joined the American Cancer Society (February, 2009) as the Vice President of Epidemiology. In this capacity, she oversees all program activities including data collection, management, and analyses for the Cancer Prevention Studies. Her research focuses on the hormonal determinants of chronic disease risk, with a particularly emphasis of breast and prostate cancer. In addition, her research is designed to identify potential prevention strategies for reducing racial/ethnic disparities in cancer incidence and mortality.

Michael J. Thun, M.D.
Vice President Emeritus, Epidemiology & Surveillance Research

Dr. Thun received an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. He has worked for 25 years in epidemiology and disease prevention, first as a Medical Officer investigating toxic exposures at the New Jersey State Health Department, and then as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer and staff scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1980-1988). In 1989, Dr. Thun joined the American Cancer Society (ACS) as the Director of Analytic Epidemiology. From 1998 - 2009 he served as Vice President of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, overseeing both cancer surveillance and analytic epidemiology research. His research covers a wide range of issues within cancer epidemiology, including studies on the potential of aspirin as an anti-cancer agent, alcohol, obesity, the effects of active smoking and environmental tobacco smoke, and other factors, based on the ACS Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II).

Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D.
Strategic Director, Pharmacoepidemiology

Dr. Jacobs completed a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Washington (1996), and joined the American Cancer Society in 1996. He is currently a Senior Epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society's Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research. Dr. Jacobs’ research interests include colorectal cancer, and the potential effects of nutritional supplements and common medications, such as aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs, on the risk of developing cancers.

Marjorie L. McCullough, Sc.D.
Strategic Director, Nutritional Epidemiology

Dr. McCullough received her Master of Science (1986) in Clinical Dietetics from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, and a Doctor of Science degree (1999) in Nutritional Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. She gained experience in clinical and epidemiological research in nutrition while working at both the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA (1986-1996). She is currently a Senior Epidemiologist in the Analytic Epidemiology program at the American Cancer Society. Her research has been primarily in the areas of calcium and vitamin D, plant foods and diet patterns in relation to risk of several cancers, including gastrointestinal and breast cancers. She is also interested in dietary assessment methodology.

Victoria L. Stevens, Ph.D.
Strategic Director, Lab Services

Dr. Stevens received her Ph.D. (1988) in Biochemistry from Emory University. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry at Merck Research Laboratories (1988-1990). She is currently Strategic Direction of Lab Services in the Epidemiology Research program at the American Cancer Society. Her research has been primarily in the areas of folate metabolism and transport, influence of folate nutrition, and genetic variants in folate-metabolizing enzymes on risk of breast, prostate, cervical, and other cancers, as well as genetic determinants of nicotine dependence, and gene-environment interactions that affect cancer risk.

Peter T. Campbell, Ph.D.
Strategic Director, Tumor Repository

Dr. Campbell received a Master of Science (2000) in Kinesiology and Health Sciences from York University, and a Ph.D. (2006) in Epidemiology from the University of Toronto. He conducted a postdoctoral fellowship in the Cancer Prevention Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA (2006-2008), where his main research interests involved the effects of exercise and weight loss on biomarkers of cancer risk. He joined the American Cancer Society in 2008 as a Senior Epidemiologist. His research interests primarily involve the role of physical activity and obesity, including intermediate biomarkers, on risk of gastrointertinal cancers.