U-M Cancer Center names Bhramar Mukherjee to lead cancer prevention, control research

December 2, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

Associate director of population science will oversee work on cancer causes, prevention, care delivery and outcomes

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has appointed Bhramar Mukherjee, Ph.D., as associate director for population science research.

Mukherjee is John D. Kalbfleisch Collegiate professor of biostatistics and professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. She also serves as the associate chair for biostatistics.

In her new role, she will oversee the Cancer Center’s research on cancer screening, detection and prevention, as well as research on cancer outcomes, disparities and new models of cancer care delivery.

“I am so impressed with Dr. Mukherjee. She is a stellar researcher in biostatistics, epidemiology and disparities. These are key issues for our Cancer Center to address. We have tremendous strength and talent in our population science program, and I am thrilled to bring in Dr. Mukherjee to lead it,” says Ted Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., Max S. Wicha M.D. Distinguished Professor of Oncology and director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Mukherjee joined the University of Michigan faculty in 2006. She received her doctorate in statistics from Purdue University, where she also earned a master’s of science in mathematical statistics. She holds a master’s degree in applied statistics and data analysis from the Indian Statistical Institute.

Mukherjee has received the U-M School of Public Health’s Excellence in Teaching Award and was the recipient this year of the University of Michigan’s Faculty Recognition Award. She is the founding director of a cross-disciplinary summer institute at the School of Public Health to train undergraduates at the intersection of big data and human health. She is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Her cancer research has focused on how the interaction between genes and the environment impacts cancer risk. She has studied the roles of diet, physical activity and lifestyle factors, and their interplay with the genetic architecture of an individual. Integrating data on genes and the environment can help identify susceptible sub-populations at higher risk of cancer and allow researchers to design targeted intervention strategies. Mukherjee also has worked on models to predict cancer risk among people with known genetic risk coming from high risk families.

“As a biostatistician and epidemiologist, I can bring a lot to this role,” Mukherjee says. “We live in a very data-driven world. There are tremendous opportunities, both within the University of Michigan and nationally around big data – using medical records and mining large datasets to manage patient outcomes and care. Groundbreaking prevention and health communications research is happening today by using social media and mobile sensors. Data is helping us to better understand disparities in cancer care, delivery and outcomes.”

Mukherjee plans to foster and facilitate cross-collaboration within the population sciences program in the Cancer Center and across various other units at the University of Michigan, something she has done frequently as a biostatistician. Her goal will be to support the outstanding biomedical prevention and cancer care delivery programs at the Cancer Center as well as help with new recruitments and initiatives that advance population sciences.

The associate director for population science position was last held by Stephen B. Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., who is now the director of the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Mukherjee’s appointment is effective Jan. 15.