- 17 August 2017
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Thursday 17 August 2017, 1.00 PM
Auditorium, Level 6, Bancroft Building
Which modifiable risk factors actually cause cancer?
Associate Professor Stuart MacGregor,
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
The identification of modifiable risk factors is crucial in public health efforts to control cancer. Observational studies have been widely used to identify putative cancer risk factors but issues such as confounding and reverse causality make interpretation difficult. Using a causal inference approach based on genetic data (called Mendelian Randomization or MR) can ameliorate some of these issues and enable better assessment of the true relationship between risk factor and cancer risk. I will describe work harnessing large scale genetic data to make causal inferences about the role of a variety of putative cancer risk factors. Data will be drawn from a range of GWAS consortia and biobanks. I will focus on cancers of the skin, esophagus and ovary, as well as considering overall cancer risk. Modifiable risk factors investigated include obesity, fatty acid levels, cholesterol levels, vitamin D levels, as well as coffee and alcohol consumption. For risk factors where causality is shown then the case for a relevant intervention is greatly strengthened. This research will thus directly guide efforts to determine which specific changes (behavioural, supplementary) will help cancer control.
Associate Professor Stuart MacGregor is head of Statistical Genetics laboratory at QIMR Berghofer. He conducted his PhD at the University of Edinburgh and lectured at Cardiff University prior to moving to QIMR Berghofer in 2005. His program of research centres on identifying genes influencing complex disease. In his work he develops and applies statistical methods for gene mapping. He plays a leading role in several international gene mapping consortia. His work to date has mapped hundreds of genetic variants contributing to disease, with major impact in two primary areas, cancer and eye disease. He is co-author on >150 publications, many of which are highly cited (H index=50).