Population Science

Overview

Population Science is a research discipline aimed at reducing disease risk, incidence and death, as well as improved quality of life for all individuals. Population Science looks across the entire spectrum of factors that can impact health outcomes, including healthcare, individual health behaviors, environmental factors, social and economic factors, policies and genetic determinants of health. Health outcomes span the physical, mental, behavioral, and social health domains enhancing our understanding of health. Researchers in the field of Population Science come from various disciplines, such as Public Health, Medicine, Pharmacy, Economics, Social Sciences and Environmental Health.

Population Science research is, together with basic and clinical research, one of the pillars of any Cancer Center. It encompasses studies in multiple areas, including cancer risk, behavioral factors, survivorship, cancer disparities, screening and interventions for primary prevention. Different from most cancer centers, Stony Brook University Cancer Center does not have a program dedicated to Population Science: projects relevant to cancer prevention and controls are present in all three research programs. {link to research Program homepage}

Coordination of Population Science research across the cancer research programs is obtained through the Translational Initiative in Population Sciences (TIPS). Fourteen members of the Cancer Center also belong to Translational Initiative on Population Science (TIPS): regular meetings and seminars are organized, as well as other academic initiatives, such as the 2021 Gloria and Mark Snyder Symposium that was dedicated to population sciences research.

The main effort of TIPS goes toward strengthening and broadening research in cancer prevention and control across the Cancer Center. A special focus is given to cancers relevant to the catchment population. This work is conducted in close collaboration with the Community Outreach and Education office led by Linda Mermelstein, MD.

Pilot Projects

A program for pilot projects in Population Science has been established, which has led to pilot grants on childhood cancer survivorship, cervical cancer screening in minority populations, and environmental factors in bladder cancer. It is expected that these pilot projects will translate into successful long-term projects.

WTC Research Project

A special population that is the focus of several research projects is represented by responders to the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center (WTC). The participants are enrolled in a medical and monitoring program managed by Benjamin J. Luft, MD, Director and Principal Investigator, Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program. This is a unique cohort that combines high environmental exposure, longitudinal data on a growing number of conditions and biomarkers, high-quality phenotyping and strong motivation to participate in research. Examples of projects currently conducted by Cancer Center members among WTC responders includes:

  • Exploring the role of post-traumatic stress disorder on prostate carcinogenesis
  • Studying the effect of WTC exposure on chronic hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential
  • Determining the contribution of latency (time since 9/11 attack) to the pattern of cancer risk among responders

About Dr. Boffetta

Dr. Boffetta is Associate Director for Population Science at Stony Brook Cancer Center. He has more than 30 years of experience in cancer epidemiology and prevention research, edited 15 books and published over 1,300 scientific studies. He was recruited in 2020 from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Prior to that he worked for 20 years at the cancer branch of the World Health Organization, where he built a large network of international collaborators in cancer prevention and control.