We are affiliated with the Channing Laboratory, Epidemiology Section at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as the Harvard School of Public Health. Through this affiliation, we actively participate in research using the Harvard epidemiological cohort studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study I, Nurses’ Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. These cohorts provide unprecedented access to a range of longitudinally collected epidemiologic questionnaire data that are consistently updated over greater than 30 years of follow-up. Within these cohorts, we have archived biospecimens of plasma, DNA, and tumor material for correlative science and translational research projects.
Ashwin Ananthakrishnan, MD, MPH
Edward Huang, MD, MPH
Hamed Khalili, MD
1. Epidemiology of colorectal adenoma and cancer. Our specific focus is on the prevention of colorectal adenoma and cancer using chemopreventative drugs and lifestyle interventions. Most recently, aspirin has emerged as promising agent for prevention of colorectal cancer. We have been conducting studies evaluating the optimal dose and duration of aspirin therapy, as well as defining potential populations that may preferentially benefit. We are also interested in genetic and biochemical markers that may be used to stratify risk of colorectal cancer for individuals, as well as predict responsiveness to various interventions. This work is also being extended into using epidemiological methods to understand the role of inflammation in colorectal cancer risk and prognosis.
2. Genetic epidemiology of colorectal cancer. We coordinate the Harvard cohorts in a national consortium of epidemiological studies of colorectal cancer which have assembled to conduct a large scale genome wide association study of colorectal cancer. A principal aim of the consortium is to investigate the interaction between known environmental risk factors for colorectal cancer and genetic risk loci.
3. Epidemiology of gastrointestinal bleeding. Our specific focus is on lifestyle risk factors for gastrointestinal bleeding, including intake of medications such as aspirin and NSAIDs. We are also examining the influence of genetic and biomarker risk factors for gastrointestinal bleeding.
5. Epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease. Our specific focus is on 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.
4. Molecular imaging of colorectal neoplasia. In collaboration with biotechnology firms, we are working to clinically 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 colorectal neoplasia.