Graham Colditz, MD DrPH FAFPHM

Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, and Associate Director of Prevention and Control, Washington University School of Medicine Siteman Cancer Center

Principal Investigator, Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities

Chair, Center for Scientific Research Epidemiology of Cancer (EPIC) study section, National Cancer Institute

Former Project Director and Principal Investigator, the Nurses’ Health Study

Founding Principal Investigator, the Growing Up Today Study

Graham Colditz, MD DrPH FAFPHM, is among the most highly cited medical researchers in the world, and has focused his long career as an epidemiologist and public health expert upon the preventable causes of chronic disease, particularly among women.  He was born in Australia and received his medical degree from the University of Queensland and his MPH and Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard University School of Public Health.  During his 25 years of service at Harvard University, he was elevated to concurrent professorships in medicine at Harvard Medical School and in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.  For 10 of these years, Dr. Colditz was the principal investigator for the Nurses’ Health Study, a longitudinal study of 121,701 nurses investigating risk factors for major chronic diseases.  He also served for periods as Associate Director of Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as Director of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, and as head of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center.

Dr. Colditz currently serves as Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, and Associate Director of Prevention and Control, and principal investigator of the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities, at Washington University School of Medicine Siteman Cancer Center.  He also directs the Master of Population Health Science program at the School of Medicine, and co-directs the Cell to Society Pathway doctoral training program.  He is principal investigator of TREC@WUSTL, a five-year NCI-funded transdisciplinary research center that will study the relationship between obesity and cancer, and previously established and was the founding principal investigator for the Growing Up Today Study relating diet and lifestyle to the growth and health outcomes of 16,883 adolescents ages 9 to 14 at entry.  He also developed the award-winning Your Disease Risk website ( which communicates tailored prevention messages to the public.

Dr. Colditz’ research accomplishments have reflected an extraordinary breadth, and practicality of application, with regard to the implications of lifestyle factors for risk or progression of major chronic diseases.  He documented in prospective data the potential for childhood and adolescent diet, alcohol, and adiposity to modify risk of premalignant and invasive breast cancers.  He demonstrated that current use of postmenopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, and its rate of mortality, and found a significant increase in risk with increasing duration of use.  He showed that smoking increases the risk of stroke and total mortality among women, and that weight gain increases the risk of diabetes.

Dr. Colditz’ work has also included developing statistical models to classify more accurately the levels of risk for several cancers.  He has documented the implications of proliferative benign lesions for risk of subsequent breast cancer, and over the years has been investigating the importance of a healthy diet, as measured by fruit and vegetable intake between childhood and early adulthood, in relation to development of benign lesions and other markers of breast cancer risk.  He has recently been examining data from women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II to assess childhood and adolescent growth and lifestyle factors including obesity, peak height growth velocity, adolescent alcohol intake, and physical activity, in relation to markers of cell growth in normal breast tissue.  His interest has long been in speeding the translation of epidemiologic and other research data into effective prevention strategies:  to improve risk stratification and screening, and to tailor targeted diet, alcohol, smoking and physical activity related messages to adolescents and young adults, to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Colditz has published over 1100 peer-reviewed publications and six books, as well as six reports for the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.  He also authored chapters in the report from the National Academy of Science entitled “Fulfilling the Potential of Cancer Prevention and Early Detection”, and contributed to reports of the Surgeon General on Tobacco and Health.  He has edited numerous books on cancer prevention and health promotion, and the “Encyclopedia of Cancer in Society”, and for 8 years served as editor-in-chief of the journal Cancer Causes and Control.  Citations and citation metrics can be found at  Dr. Colditz also leads a team writing the blog Cancer News in Context, found at

Dr. Colditz has served in numerous other professional leadership roles.  In October 2006 he was elected to membership of the Institute of Medicine, an independent body that advises the U.S. federal government on issues affecting public health, and in 2012 was appointed to a five-year term on the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors.  During 2016 he served on the Implementation Science Work Group of the Blue-Ribbon Panel to advise the National Cancer Moonshot.  He has served on several National Cancer Institute scientific peer-review committees including Subcommittee E (program projects) and Subcommittee A (Cancer Center Support Grants), and is currently chair of the Center for Scientific Research Epidemiology of Cancer (EPIC) study section.  Dr. Colditz has devoted much effort to the application of scientific advances in cancer prevention to broader population programs, working with the American Cancer Society and the Massachusetts Cancer Control Program.  He has focused extensively on the validation of self-report information for use in large-scale epidemiologic studies and refined diet assessment tools for use in public health settings such as WIC.   He also served on committees of the National Academies of Science addressing health effects of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam War veterans, and exposure to Pave Paws Low-Level Phased Array Radiofrequency Energy.

Dr. Colditz in 2011 was awarded the American Cancer Society’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for his dedication to conducting research that focuses on the causes and prevention of chronic diseases and cancer.  In 2012 he received the American Association for Cancer Research – American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention.  In 2014 he was honored with the American Society of Clinical Oncology – American Cancer Society Award and Lecture for his contributions to cancer prevention and management, and also the American Association for Cancer Research Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Prevention Research.