Major Programs

Research activities within the Department of Epidemiology are supported by several resources and core services in the Department. This creates a solid foundation for high-impact, translational research towards Making Cancer History®.

Center for Translational and Public Health Genomics

The Center for Translational and Public Health Genomics (CTPHG) was created to bridge the gap between epidemiologic discoveries and their translation into clinical and public health applications to benefit cancer patients, individuals at elevated risk for cancer, and the general population. The Center contributes to the institutional commitment of personalized medicine by providing expertise in translational genomics for cancer risk, prevention interventions, progression from pre-malignancy to cancer, pharmacogenomics to predict therapeutic response, and survivorship and quality of life (QOL).

Blood Specimen Research Resource

The BSRR systematically collects and banks blood samples from all newly diagnosed patients seen at MD Anderson.   BSRR Oversight Committee

For questions or additional information, please contact Anna L. Garcia, Research Investigator, at

Patient History Data Base and ePHDB Initiative

The Patient History Database (PHDB) systematically collects core risk and exposure epidemiology data from patients coming to MD Anderson for their cancer care. We are actively working on an electronic version of the PHDB to collect additional information that will also allow for the implementation of cancer-site specific modules.   PHDB DAC Procedures     PHDB Data Request Feasibility Assessment Form  

For questions or additional information, please contact Anna L. Garcia, Research Investigator at

MD Anderson Cancer Patient Cohort (MDACPC)

Together, the PHDB and BSRR components form the MD Anderson Cancer Patient Cohort (MDACPC). The ability to link inherited genetic variations, circulating biomarkers, epidemiological variables, behavioral characteristics, clinical data, and somatic molecular data of tumor tissues would make the MDACPC a unique resource for translational research.

Survivorship Cohort

The current recruitment strategy of the MDACPC focuses on newly registered cancer patients coming to MD Anderson for their cancer care. There is a gap in the collection of biospecimens and patient data from the current long-term survivors that visit our survivorship clinics. This Survivorship Cohort will address this need and build a significant research resource for investigators who are interested in survivorship research.

Personalized Risk Prediction Program (PRPP)

The PRPP focuses on the development of tools and approaches to understand an individual’s risk of cancer development. The goal of the PRPP is to construct, test and implement risk assessment models across the full spectrum of cancer risk prediction and then to disseminate the risk prediction information via web-based tools.

Research Facility

We have a fully-functioning Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory equipped with the most advanced genotyping technology, including a 384-well ABI TaqMan system, Illumina’s iScan and BeadXpress, and the Ion Torrent next generation sequencing platform. These instruments allow us to use a comprehensive candidate SNP-based, whole genome scanning, and targeted sequencing approaches, as well as molecular profiling.

Pre-malignant Genome Atlas Program

The detection and elimination of precancerous lesions is the best strategy to prevent cancer. The goal is to identify the earliest molecular defects that cause cancer, thus gaining the ability to identify patients at high risk of malignant transformation. The PGA is actively collecting blood and tissue from patients undergoing colonoscopy screening at MD Anderson; this includes normal and polyp tissue specimens. Patients with polyps will be followed up to determine whether or not they develop colorectal cancer – creating a cohort to investigate the factors influencing colorectal cancer development.

Mano-a-Mano Cohort (Mexican-American Cohort)

This long-term health study of individuals of Mexican origin living in Harris County or surrounding counties was initiated several years ago to address the specific cancer-related issues of an understudied, underserved and rapidly growing segment of our population. With over 25,000 participants followed up longitudinally, this presents an opportunity to investigate tobacco use, diet, physical activity, occupational exposures, and many other factors that influence health with a focus on chronic diseases and cancer.

Taiwan Health Screening Cohort (MJ Cohort)

We are collaborating with the MJ Health Management Institute in Taiwan to develop a large population-based prospective cohort to investigate the relationship between lifestyle factors, chronic diseases, biomarkers, and cancer risk. Over 660,000 participants with detailed health-questionnaire data have been enrolled. Participants undergo a series of medical tests (over 100 items) for blood, urine, body measurements, functional tests, and physical examination. Biospecimens have been banked, including over 70,000 DNA samples. Many individuals undergo screening each year, creating a platform for investigation into energy balance, physical activity, screening, early detection, and interventions.

Nutrition Research Group and Core

The Nutrition Research Group (NRG) is dedicated to developing a paradigm that fosters evidence-based research in nutrition and cancer prevention, etiology and survival.  The NRG provides a wide range of expertise and resources related to nutrition research, including epidemiology, gene-diet interactions, feeding studies, community-based interventions, clinical dietetics, physical activity, and survivorship.

Population Sciences Laboratory (PSL)

The Population Sciences Laboratory (PSL) is an archiving laboratory for long-term storage and tracking of samples utilizing sophisticated technologies for epidemiologic research. This facility includes: 1) Individualized bar coding and tracking systems; 2) Cryogenic repository of blood components; 3) A room temperature-based, automated storage system to eliminate cross contamination. The goal of this facility is to provide well-characterized, readily tracked, long-term stabilized biological samples (blood, serum, plasma, DNA, lymphocytes) for use in research efforts that extend years into the future

Biospecimen Extraction Facility

The Biospecimen Extraction Facility provides a centralized laboratory for standardized, high-quality DNA and RNA extraction from various sources.  Additional services are available for further analysis of the nucleic acid such as gel electrophoresis, Pico-green reading, PCR and pyrosequencing for single nucleotide polymorphisms detection.  We also offer simulated RNA, DNA and protein extraction and protein extraction from fresh frozen tissue.  Custom-designed studies can also be performed for non-laboratory-based investigators.