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UM SOM Epidemiologist Joanne F. Dorgan Named Director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology

March 16, 2016 | David Kohn

Joanne F. Dorgan, PhD, MPH

Appointment Continues School’s Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Epidemiological Research

Jay S. Magaziner, PhD, MS Hyg, Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) in the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM), along with UM SOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, announced today that Joanne F. Dorgan, PhD, MPH, Professor in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology within the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, has been appointed Director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology. Dorgan succeeds Division Director William A. Blattner, MD, co-founder and associate director of the UM SOM Institute of Human Virology, who retired on January 31, 2016.

In her new role, Dr. Dorgan will continue with her own research in cancer epidemiology, and will work to foster a diverse array of other cancer epidemiology research. She will recruit new faculty and will help develop new avenues of scientific research for the division.

Dr. Dorgan holds a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the UM School of Public Health at College Park. An epidemiologist with expertise in molecular and nutritional epidemiology, she has a BS degree in biology (1974) from Cornell University, an MPH degree in nutrition (1976) from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, and a PhD degree in epidemiology (1985) from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She did her post-doctoral training in cancer prevention and control in the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, after which she conducted epidemiologic research at the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama, the Maryland Medical Research Institute, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Dr. Dorgan arrived at UM SOM in 2013 as a Professor in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology, under the leadership of Dr. Blattner. She is co-leader of the Population Science Program at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

“Dr. Dorgan has spent her career delving into crucial questions of who gets cancer and why,” said Dr. Magaziner. “Her work has allowed us to understand much more about cancer and public health. She is the ideal person to replace Dr. Blattner, who himself has done so much to advance this field.”

Dr. Dorgan's research focuses primarily on identifying hormonal determinants of cancer, particularly breast cancer, and the hormonal mechanisms by which environmental and behavioral exposures affect cancer risk. While at the NCI, she was the Principal Investigator of the Columbia, Missouri, Serum Bank, a long-standing prospective cohort study of women. Since leaving NCI, Dr. Dorgan has continued to study this cohort to identify hormonal, environmental and nutritional influences on cancer risk.

In a recent prospective analysis from the serum bank, Dr. Dorgan and her NCI colleagues found that women with more extensive 2-hydroxylation of estrogens have a reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than women with less. In another recent study, they found that anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), a serum marker of ovarian function, is positively related to breast cancer risk. The ovarian surface epithelium and uterus are Müllerian-derived tissues, and Dr. Dorgan is currently leading an international collaboration to evaluate associations of AMH with ovarian and endometrial cancer risk. She also is beginning to identify metabolomic profiles associated with ovarian cancer risk.

Dr. Dorgan also conducts research on early life exposures and adult chronic disease risk in the Dietary Intervention Study in Children. Dr. Dorgan and her colleagues are continuing to conduct analyses and anticipate that many novel findings will come from this unique resource. In ongoing studies, they are evaluating associations of adolescent diet with breast density in young adulthood.

Dr. Dorgan has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals such as the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, and Breast Cancer Research on these findings and others.

“Over her tenure at Maryland, Dr. Dorgan has improved our understanding of the links between hormones and cancer,” said Dean Reece, who is also the vice president for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor. “In her new role, she will also help the department move forward in exciting and important ways to better understand this terrible disease and its impact on public health.”

About the University of Maryland School of Medicine

The University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 and is the first public medical school in the United States and continues today as an innovative leader in accelerating innovation and discovery in medicine. The School of Medicine is the founding school of the University of Maryland and is an integral part of the 11-campus University System of Maryland. Located on the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine works closely with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide a research-intensive, academic and clinically based education. With 43 academic departments, centers and institutes and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians and research scientists plus more than $400 million in extramural funding, the School is regarded as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the U.S. with top-tier faculty and programs in cancer, brain science, surgery and transplantation, trauma and emergency medicine, vaccine development and human genomics, among other centers of excellence. The School is not only concerned with the health of the citizens of Maryland and the nation, but also has a global presence, with research and treatment facilities in more than 35 countries around the world.


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David Kohn
Director of Medicine and Science Communications
University of Maryland School of Medicine
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