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Study and Biospecimen Team and Analyst Core

We are a diverse team that administers and manages data collection for the Population Science cohort studies, Cancer Prevention Study-II (CPS-II) and Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). We also conduct statistical analyses and provide analytic support to other teams within the American Cancer Society (ACS).

What We Do

The Study and Biospecimen team includes about a dozen people who manage the collection and storage of biospecimens for the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Studies (CPS). Around a half dozen data analysts make up the Analyst Core, which collect and evaluate the data that's used by epidemiology staff and others in the ACS Population Science department in their research studies.

The Study and Biospecimen Team

We administer and manage the collection of data for CPS-II, and CPS-3 and carefully coordinate each step of the study process. For instance, we:

  • Strategize and deliver communications with CPS participants, such as newsletters, survey or sub-study invitations, and responses to participant inquiries. 
  • Manage and update participant contact information.
  • Develop surveys.
  • Collect and process data from surveys.
  • Track participants’ responses to surveys and develop strategies to increase their engagement and survey response rates.
  • Procure and receive tumor tissue samples and manage their storage and use in the ACS biorepository, in addition to millions of other biospecimen samples, including blood, buccal cells (skin cells from the inside of the cheek, used to get DNA), urine, and stool.
  • Collect cancer outcomes’ data about CPS participants from state cancer registries and mortality data about participants from the National Death Index.
  • Develop and maintain systems that ensure the privacy of participants as well as the collection of exceptional data.

The Analyst Core

We receive data primarily from Population Science research studies and analyzes it by using a broad range of statistical methods.

We work with Population Science and other ACS researchers to incorporate our analyses into their studies. We also prepare CPS data for, and manage, collaborations and data-sharing agreements with external researchers in order to expand our ability to conduct impactful research.

Glossary for Nonscientists

Featured Term:

A facility that collects, catalogs, and stores samples of biological materials (biospecimens). The ACS Cancer Prevention Studies biorepository includes blood, urine, buccal cells (from the inside of the cheek), cancer tissue, and stool.

Our Projects

The Study and Biospecimen team and Analyst Core provides support to many Population Science data collection and research initiatives, including our cancer prevention studies. 

The Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) is a large, geographically and racially/ethnically diverse US cohort of over 300,000 participants who provided blood samples and were cancer free at the time of enrollment (2006 to 2013).

The study was designed to collect information about the risk factors of cancer and about death from cancer in a cohort that reflects today’s society. 

The Study and Biospecimen Management team:

  • Helped coordinate CPS-3 enrollment efforts.
  • Communicates with active CPS-3 participants.
  • Manages on-going data collection, including survey development and deployment for triennial CPS-3 follow-up surveys, sub-studies, and participant portal projects
  • Manages the large biorepository of blood samples, tumor tissue (from participants who were later diagnosed with certain cancers), and urine and stool samples from those participating in smaller sub-studies.

The Analyst Core: 

  • Uses CPS-3 survey and biospecimen data to compare differences between people who are diagnosed with cancer and those who are not, using the latest statistical techniques and technologies.
  • Expands research focused on factors that research has shown are related to cancer prevention and survival, including healthy eating, active living, and other behaviors and lifestyles; medical history; genetics; and the environment.
  • Explores emerging areas of concern, such as disparities or differences in the risk for developing cancer and in the length of survival after a cancer diagnosis, based on financial well-being, geography, health insurance status, and race/ethnicity, as well as current trends, such as the use of e-cigarettes, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and inequitable access to health care. 


The Cancer Prevention Study-II (CPS-II) consists of 1.2 million men and women from across US who were enrolled starting in 1982. 

In 1992, a sub-cohort called the CPS-II Nutrition Cohort was created with the goal of collecting updated and more detailed information on diet and other risk factors for cancer, as well as to be able to study the risk of developing cancer and dying from it. 

From this cohort, another sub-set of participants, known as the Lifelink cohort, provided blood and buccal (cheek swab) samples to allow researchers to investigate the effects of genetics on cancer risk, development, and survival.

Over the course of this study, the Study and Biospecimen team: 

  • Worked with 77,000 volunteers in 50 states to recruit approximately 1.2 million men and women from across the US.
  • Managed the recruitment and follow-up for the CPS-II Nutrition Cohort starting in 1992.
  • Oversaw the collection and storage of 40,000 blood and 70,000 buccal (cheek swab) samples from the Lifelink cohort
  • Collected and stored tumor tissue samples from CPS-II participants who developed certain types of cancer (colorectal, hematologic, prostate, and breast).

Over the years, the Analyst Core has worked closely with ACS principal investigators to analyze CPS-II data resulting in an abundant amount of published research which explores a variety of cancer risk factors.  Some of their most notable findings include:

  • Stable estimates for the risk of lung cancer in the absence of active smoking using the over 480,000 lifelong nonsmokers in CPS-II.
  • A link between obesity and death from breast, colorectal and other cancers.
  • An association between regular aspirin use and lower risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Clarified associations between the risk for cancer and physical activity, diet, and use of hormones, among other factors.