Statisticians develop new methodology to understand data and in my thesis I developed new methodology to better evaluate cancer risk in epidemiological studies. After I completed my doctorate, I furthered my experience in developing new statistical methodology, worked with more clinicians in a wide variety of research studies and developed my own research program in outcomes after the diagnosis of cardiac disease.
In 1999, I was lucky to return to the BC Cancer Agency as a biostatistician and epidemiologist. I quickly returned to my research interests in the environment and cancer. I studied the effects of environmental contaminants on non-Hodgkin lymphoma and conducted further studies of aluminum workers, as well as continuing to develop new statistical methodology. I also developed a new research area concerning the interaction of environmental exposure with genetic susceptibility.
This new research program is known as GENIC — Gene-ENvironment Interactions in Cancer. It is clear that cancer is an interaction between these two areas, but in the past, researchers have often looked at only one or the other. The only way we can progress in preventing cancer is to better understand the causes, and to do this we have to take both genes and the environment into account.
I’ve recently finished collecting data looking at genes and environment related to breast cancer and analysis of this data has begun. My latest projects involve looking at genes and environmental causes of multiple myeloma and a very recently funded study of cell phone use and brain cancer in adolescents and young adults.
Earlier this year, I also took over the lead on the largest research study ever undertaken in British Columbia, which you may have heard of: the BC Generations Project. It’s a massive population-based research project that will help future generations in many ways. I’ll share more about the project next week.