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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Aaron Blair, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Scientist Emeritus

Aaron Blair, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Aaron Blair, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Organization:National Cancer Institute
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch


Dr. Blair received a Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina. He joined the National Cancer Institute as a staff fellow in 1976, and was appointed head of the Occupational Studies Section in 1978. When the group became a branch in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics in 1996, Dr. Blair was appointed Chief. He has received NIH Director's Awards, the PHS Special Recognition Award, NIH Merit Award, DHHS Quality of Work Life Award, University of North Carolina H.A. Tyroler Distinguished Alumni Award, the John Goldsmith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Epidemiology from the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, the Harriet Barr Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Public Health Alumnus Association of the University of North Carolina, the NIOSH Alice Hamilton Award, and the Epidemiology in Occupational Health (EPICOH) Award for Outstanding Contributions to Occupational Epidemiology. He has served on numerous review groups for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies and organizations. Dr. Blair has authored more than 450 publications on occupational and environmental causes of cancer. He was named DCEG Scientist Emeritus in 2007.

Research Interests

Dr. Blair’s research has focused on occupational and environmental causes of cancer. He has played a key role in the development and management of the long-term Agricultural Health Study. His studies of exposures to pesticides, dry cleaning solvents, and industrial chemicals—such as formaldehyde, acrylonitrile, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, diesel exhaust, and silica—have resulted in numerous scientific publications. Findings from his work have been instrumental in setting guidelines for human exposure, including the IARC classifications on possible carcinogenic risk to humans. In addition, Dr. Blair has contributed to the development of novel methodologies in industrial hygiene and exposure measurement.