Our Objectives

The Population Science Department uses the collective expertise of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, behavioral scientists, research analysts, and study management experts to better understand the behavioral, social, physical, environmental, and societal factors that affect cancer prevention, risk, treatment, and survivorship. We do this by comprehensively collecting and evaluating data from surveys and human biological samples, and by employing behavior-change theories and evaluations.  For instance, we:

  • Design, conduct, and analyze large prospective cohort studies, like the ACS Cancer Prevention Studies and the ACS Studies of Cancer Survivors.
  • Build and manage a robust biorepository of blood, buccal cells (from the inside of the cheek), urine, stool, and tumor tissue samples.
  • Identify and assess effective ways to help people change behaviors (such as by quitting smoking or being more active) before and after a cancer diagnosis.
  • Provide accurate, reliable, and timely evidence-based program evaluation using both quantitative and qualitative methods for ACS-led cancer control and intervention programs. 

The department has a long history of conducting seminal research on cancer risk factors, resulting in pivotal or landmark studies and insights that influence the direction of future cancer studies from investigators across the world.

Alpa Patel, PhD, leads the department as the Senior Vice President of Population Science, bringing over 20 years of experience at the American Cancer Society.

population science teams and work

We conduct and analyze large-scale population and behavioral intervention studies and evaluate the American Cancer Society’s own cancer control and intervention programs.