The MGH Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit is a new research unit within the Department of Medicine. The mission of the CTEU is to advance epidemiologic investigation for the translation of discoveries into effective clinical interventions. The CTEU will utilize, develop, and optimize cutting edge epidemiologic methods to discover and characterize determinants of human health, develop novel preventive and therapeutic interventions, and elucidate molecular biomarkers for the development of precision medicine strategies. Approaches will include the analysis of traditional epidemiologic exposures, as well as novel genetic, biochemical, metabolomic, proteomic, and microbial biomarkers.
Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH
Manish Gala, MD
Hamed Khalili, MD, MPH
Kyle Staller, MD, MPH
1. Epidemiology of colorectal adenoma and cancer. We are leading several studies in the prevention of colorectal adenoma and cancer using chemopreventative drugs and lifestyle interventions. We are also focused on genetic and biochemical markers that may be used to stratify risk of colorectal cancer for individuals, as well as predict responsiveness to various interventions.
2. Biomarker trial of aspirin in colorectal neoplasia. We conducting ASPIRED, an NCI-funded, randomized, clinical trial of aspirin among patients with a history of colorectal adenoma in relation to several cancer-specific biomarkers. The ultimate goal is to understand the mechanistic basis by which aspirin reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
3. Epidemiology of the oral and gut microbiome. We have completed several prospective collections of the oral and gut microbiome to examine key questions regarding the stability of the microbiome over time, dietary and lifestyle determinants of the microbiome, and the association of the microbiome in relation to risk of several chronic diseases, including colorectal and other cancers. We collaborate closely with leading immunologists, computational biologists, microbiologists, and biostatisticians in this field.
4. Genomic landscape of interval cancers. We are using state-of-the art genome sequencing techniques to identify molecular markers of colorectal cancers which evade traditional endoscopic detection.
5. Genetic epidemiology of colorectal cancer. We are members of a national consortium of epidemiological studies of colorectal cancer which have assembled to conduct a large scale genome wide association study of colorectal cancer. The primary focus is to investigate the interaction between known environmental risk factors for colorectal cancer and genetic risk loci, as well as the interaction between germline genetic risk factors and colorectal cancers defined by molecular subtypes.
6. Survival in colorectal cancer. We co-lead, with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the International Survival Analysis in Colorectal Cancer Consortium, an international collaboration of investigators which is conducting studies in genetic and lifestyle factors associated with survival among patients with colorectal cancer.
7. Epidemiology of gastrointestinal bleeding. We focus on lifestyle risk factors for gastrointestinal bleeding, including intake of medications such as aspirin and NSAIDs in relation to genetic and biomarker risk factors.
8. Epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease. We are examining lifestyle and dietary factors and risk of incident Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Based on this work, we will ultimately examine how these factors interact with known genetic risk loci for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
9. Epidemiology of diverticulitis. We are studying the association of diet and lifestyle with risk of incident diverticulitis as well as recurrent diverticulitis. We are also examining the role of biochemical markers in relation to risk of incident and recurrent disease.
10. Molecular imaging of colorectal neoplasia. In collaboration with biotechnology firms, we are leading an NCI-sponsored clinical trial to translate novel near infrared activatable agents that selectively target tumor-specific cathepsin proteases. We are interested in using these agents with fluorescent imaging endoscopy to enhance the detection of gastrointestinal neoplasia.
Please contact us if you are interested in potential postdoctoral or faculty positions.
The Harvard University Center for AIDS Research, in collaboration with the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at MGH, is sponsoring a week-long workshop focused exclusively on computational approaches to metagenomic analysis.
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