Susan M. Gapstur, PhD, MPH

Senior Vice President, Behavioral and Epidemiology Research

Susan M. Gapstur, PhD, MPH, is a cancer epidemiologist and senior vice president of behavioral and epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society, where she leads a team of over 45 investigators and staff. She is the principal investigator of the Cancer Prevention Study II. She’s also responsible for providing strategic oversight and planning for all epidemiology and behavioral research activities, as well as program development and communications. 

Gapstur’s research focuses on lifestyle, medical, and hormonal determinants of cancer risk and prevention. As an expert in the field of alcohol and cancer epidemiology, Gapstur contributed to Volume 96 Alcohol Consumption and Ethyl Carbamate (2010), one of the International Agency for Research (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. This volume concluded for the first time that alcoholic beverage consumption is a cause of both breast and colorectal cancer.

Gapstur also was invited to be the lead author of the chapter “Alcohol and Cancer Risk” in Schottenfeld and Fraumeni: Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, 4th edition; Eds Thun M, Cerhan J, Haiman C, Linet M, Shottenfeld D. (2017), a premier reference text in cancer epidemiology.

Her research has contributed significantly to the scientific evidence on the role of abnormal glucose metabolism in cancer etiology (e.g., Journal of the American Medical Association, 2000). New areas of research include studies of factors related to sleep quality and amount and cancer risk. 

For over 20 years, Gapstur has served on numerous standing and ad hoc review committees for the National Institutes of Health, Departmart of Defense, and the IARC. From 2014 to 2015 Gapstur was the chair of the Molecular Epidemiology Group of the American Association of Cancer Research and was the chair of the National Cancer Institute’s Cohort Consortium Steering Committee. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Graff Distinguished Alumni Award from her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

Prior to joining the American Cancer Society in 2009, Gapstur was on the faculty in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and was program leader, then associate center director, for cancer prevention and control at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Gapstur has authored more than 350 peer-reviewed publications, as well as numerous invited commentaries, editorials, book chapters, and reviews.

• National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Arizona, 1993-1994
• PhD, Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1993
• MS, Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1989