Training and Experience: Originally trained as a family physician, I practiced medicine full time for nine years before training in epidemiology. After this I began my career as an academic cancer epidemiologist; during my first 12 years in this role I continued a 20% effort in clinical care, but over the subsequent 15 years since coming to Emory have been solely devoted to epidemiology and cancer research, teaching, and administration.
Research: The organizing hypothesis undergirding most of my body of research is that colorectal cancer is an evolutionary discordance disease; i.e., a disease initiated and/or promoted due to a mismatch between our modern diet and lifestyle and our bodies that were evolutionarily most adapted to other diets and lifestyles. My investigations, both observational and interventional, in these regards have involved assessing various nutrients for which modern intakes/exposures are low, exposure pathways, and larger dietary/lifestyle patterns. Intertwined with much of this work has been the development of treatable biomarkers of risk for colorectal cancer to illuminate the relevant mechanisms of the exposures on colon carcinogenesis in humans. Particular foci within my past and current work in these somewhat overlapping areas include: calcium, vitamin D, oxidative balance, inflammation, and diet and lifestyle pattern scores and risk for colorectal neoplasms; and the development, validation, and application of treatable normal colon tissue and circulating biomarkers of risk for colorectal neoplasms.
Teaching: I teach courses in cancer epidemiology, epidemiologic writing and presenting, epidemiologic grant writing, and designing and implementing epidemiologic studies; have mentored numerous doctoral, post-doctoral, and masters level trainees; and serve as our Department of Epidemiology’s Director of Graduate Studies for our Masters Programs.
Service: I served as program leader for cancer prevention and control in the cancer centers of two universities before being recruited to Emory where I led the establishment of our cancer center’s prevention and control program and served as its leader for eight years until 2015. I serve as a senior editor for the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and at intervals throughout my academic career have served on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Preventive Oncology.