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Alpa V. Patel, PhD

Senior Vice President
Population Science

Asian woman with shoulder length dark hair blunt cut

Why I Study Cancer

As a teenager, when I lost my grandfather to cancer, I began volunteering with the American Cancer Society and that is where my passion for our mission was born. As both a researcher and dedicated ACS volunteer, I feel privileged every day to be part of an organization that works to make important discoveries about cancer through research, deliver meaningful information, programs, and services, and empower cancer patients, their caregivers, and communities in the fight against cancer.”

At ACS since 1997

Alpa Patel, PhD, FACSM, is the senior vice president of Population Science. She oversees a team of approximately 40 research and study operations staff. These multi-disciplinary scientists use their research expertise in epidemiology, behavioral science, and implementation and evaluation science to increase the understanding about the causes of cancer and how to improve treatment outcomes after a cancer diagnosis.

Patel also serves as the principal investigator of the ACS Cancer Prevention Studies (CPS), CPS-II and CPS-3, which are among the country’s largest population cohort studies. She provides strategic and operational oversight for the studies, including their biospecimen and data management.

She also serves on numerous international scientific advisory committees for epidemiologic cohort studies, sharing her expertise in their design and management.

Research focus and accomplishments 

Patel studies cancer prevention, focusing on how physical activity, sedentary behavior, and obesity affect the risk of developing or dying from cancer. 

Highlights of her work, especially in areas where she’s made significant contributions, include: 

Her research portfolio continues to focus on validation and other study methods. To learn more about her work listen to this podcast about Tracking COVID-19 Symptoms Through the ACS CPS-3 Studies.


Dr. Patel is on the editorial board for Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention and is an associate editor for Breast Cancer Research

For a complete list of her publications, see her Google Scholar page.


Professional Organizations

  • American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), Member
  • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Fellow


  • PhD: Epidemiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 2000-2002
  • MPH: Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1996-1997
  • BS: Zoology, University of Florida, 1993-1996