PHS Research

Public Health Sciences Division

Our Research

Photo by Stephanie Felix

The goal of the Public Health Sciences (PHS) Division is to identify strategies that would ultimately reduce the incidence of and mortality from cancer and other diseases.

Using large populations as their "laboratory," our public-health researchers look for links between cancer and its possible triggers, from diet and lifestyle to environmental and genetic factors. Identifying such cancer causes can lead to better cancer-detection methods and new ways to help people adopt healthier lifestyles to minimize or avoid their risk of getting the disease in the first place. Our Division is organized into five collaborative programs.


Known internationally for its strong methodologic contributions and collaborative work, the program provides statistical collaboration and coordination for research programs within and outside the Hutch, develops and evaluates new quantitative methods for the efficient design and analysis of a broad range of biomedical studies and constructs biomathematical models of carcinogenesis and other biological processes. These collaborative efforts often lead to the most impactful methods development, such as the standards for statistical study designs developed for early detection biomarker research developed by EDRN statisticians, statistical methods to accommodate measurement error methods motivated by nutrition studies, and several statistical genetics advancements arising out of genome-wide association and sequencing studies.

Cancer Prevention

The Cancer Prevention program is the most diverse program in PHS with expertise in epidemiology, biostatistics, nutrition, genomics, behavioral science, health economics, health disparities, health communications, primary care and oncology. The program uses interdisciplinary approaches to evaluate the causes, detection and control of cancer in laboratory, clinic and community-based studies. It is home to several large coordinating centers including WHI, SWOG, and the consortium for genomics and colorectal cancer (GECCO) which bring many opportunities and resources to the Division. Faculty are engaged in cancer screening, early detection, survivorship and risk prediction research. 

Computational Biology

Scientists within the Herbold Computational Biology Program use and develop computational methods and tools to address biological questions. The program encompasses a wide range of bioinformatic and computational approaches to identify and open novel research directions made possible by ever-increasing advances in biotechnologies, especially those based on genome-scale and other quantitative molecular assays. The program has expertise in transcription/translation control, adaptive-immune system dynamics, and phylogenetics.


The Epidemiology program seeks to determine the causes of cancers through studies in human populations of personal exposures, behavioral characteristics, and genes that may influence a person’s chances of developing one or more cancers through the identification of cancer risk factors, including those associated with lifestyle, environmental, genetics, biomarkers and infectious agents. The program was the genesis and engine for solid tumor research at Fred Hutch. Researchers lead population-based translational research for breast, prostate, esophageal, and HPV-related cancers and have expertise on several other solid tumor sites.

Translational Research

The Translational Research Program’s goal is to discover and translate molecular and epidemiological findings to both the laboratory, for advancing our understanding of the biological basis for various exposure-disease relationships, and to the clinic, for improved risk assessment, early disease detection, prognostication, treatment decision making and survivorship.

Shared Resources

Our Research is supported by several shared resources that are used predominantly by PHS, but available to researchers around the Hutch.

  • The Prevention Center which houses clinic exam rooms, a research kitchen and an exercise facility.
  • Collaborative Data Services provides programming, data control and interviewing for research projects.
  • The Nutrition Assessment Shared Resource provides expertise on the collection and analysis of self-reported dietary data.
  • The Epidemiology Shared Resource serves as a source of epidemiologic expertise for population-based studies as well as providing access to the Cancer Surveillance System, the Hutch-based NCI-designated cancer registry.
  • The Molecular Epidemiology Lab provides assistance with biospeciment logistics and assay development and specializing in genotyping, gene expression and tumor characterization.