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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch

Improving health by conducting high impact epidemiological research on infectious agents and cancer

Investigators in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) conduct multidisciplinary studies of carefully selected domestic and foreign populations, with the goal of clarifying the relationship of infectious agents, especially viruses, to human cancer and other conditions. (Cell illustration credit: Kristy Whitehouse)

Research Mission

IIB’s research mission is to discover infectious causes of cancer, to elucidate the determinants of malignancy for established oncogenic infections, to uncover novel infection-cancer associations, and to clarify how alterations in immunity and inflammation relate to cancer risk.

IIB investigators collaborate with researchers from a variety of disciplines in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to epidemiologic and clinical data, many IIB field studies include an extensive biological specimen collection component that allows for careful molecular testing to better define both exposures and outcomes of interest

Learn more about specific IIB research areas.


Working closely with tenured and tenure-track investigators, IIB fellows take lead responsibility for analyzing and summarizing previously collected data. Senior staff assist in writing manuscripts and bringing these to publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Fellows become familiar with the entire IIB portfolio and are encouraged to participate in on-going and newly proposed studies within the Branch and throughout the Division. Meet the current IIB fellows and learn about research training opportunities in IIB.

IIB Highlights

Song M, Camargo MC, Katki HA, et al.  Association of Antiparietal Cell and Anti-Intrinsic Factor Antibodies With Risk of Gastric CancerJAMA Oncol 2021. Read the DCEG News item.

Shiels MS, Haque AT, Haozous EA, et al. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Excess Deaths During the COVID-19 Pandemic, March to December 2020Ann Intern Med 2021. Read the NCI Press Release

Engles EA, Habor G, Hart A, et al. Predicted Cure and Survival Among Transplant Recipients With a Previous Cancer Diagnosis. J Clin Oncol 2021.

Horner MJ, Shiels MS, Pfeiffer RM, et al. Deaths attributable to cancer in the U.S. human immunodeficiency virus population during 2001-2015. Clin Infect Dis 2021. 

Shiels MS, Almeida JS, García-Closas M, et al. Impact of population growth and aging on estimates of excess U.S. deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, March to August 2020. Ann Intern Med 2021. 

Shiels MS, O'Brien TR. Recent decline in hepatocellular carcinoma rates in the United States. Gastroenterology 2020. 

Porras C, Tsang SH, Herrero R, et al. Efficacy of the bivalent HPV vaccine against HPV 16/18-associated precancer: Long-term follow-up results from the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial. Lancet Oncol 2020.