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Clinical Epidemiology Unit

The Clinical Epidemiology Unit (CEU) conducts etiologic research with potential clinical and public health applications and leads studies evaluating population-based early detection and cancer prevention strategies.


Study the natural history of cancer and its precursors to develop biomarkers and new approaches for risk assessment, screening, and prevention.

Research Approach

CEU conducts research on etiology, natural history, multi-step carcinogenesis, and molecular characterization of cancers and precancers. Investigators focus on the discovery of risk markers and assay development and evaluation, with the goal of guiding promising markers into clinical and public health use. Risk markers may include genetics, epidemiologic factors, molecular biomarkers, imaging, or any routine clinical test.


  • development and evaluation of screening tools
  • development and validation of risk prediction models
  • risk-based screening and clinical management guidelines.

Investigators employ novel methods and technologies, such as artificial intelligence, methylation, and somatic mutation testing, in the context of rigorous population-based studies. We conduct comprehensive molecular characterization of cancer precursors, and we evaluate biomarkers in lesion-directed biospecimens.


The risk estimates derived from CEU studies inform the development of clinical interventions and risk-based guidelines, such as the Enduring Consensus Cervical Cancer Screening and Management Guidelines. CEU strives to develop applications that are close to implementation, but we typically do not conduct implementation studies.

CEU Research Areas

Investigators and trainees in the CEU utilize multidisciplinary approaches to the following malignancies: HPV-related anogenital, endometrial, ovarian, oropharyngeal, oral cavity, and lung. Methods to explore the etiology and potential for risk prediction, and screening and early detection of these cancers include molecular epidemiology and multistage carcinogenesis, novel sampling approaches, natural history studies, biomarker discovery and validation, and investigations of the role of chronic inflammation in carcinogenesis and progression. 

Clinical Epidemiology Methods

In addition to investigator-initiated research studies, the Unit also develops novel assays and other methods as needed.

  • Approaches to studying multi-step carcinogenesis and estimating transition probabilities
  • Standardized approaches and analytic methods to evaluate biomarkers and risk prediction
  • Approaches to working with large integrated healthcare systems and electronic medical records (EMR), from natural language processing to generating precise risk estimates from heavily interval- and left-censored EMR data.

Read more about the Clinical Epidemiology Unit Research Areas.

CEU Research Staff

See the full staff directory for the Clinical Epidemiology Unit.

Meet the CEU Fellows: Postdoctoral, Postbaccalaureate, and Predoctoral



Training Opportunities in CEU

Apply to be a fellow in CEU. Visit the Fellowships and Training pages for more information.

Return to the Clinical Genetics Branch home page.

Research Findings in the News