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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H.

Branch Chief and Senior Investigator

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Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H.

Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H.

Organization:National Cancer Institute
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch
Address:NCI Shady Grove
Room 6E226


Dr. Engels earned a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Virginia in 1987 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1991. From 1991 to 1994, he trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Subsequently, Dr. Engels received clinical training in infectious diseases and an M.P.H. at Tufts University School of Medicine. He joined the NCI Viral Epidemiology Branch (later the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB)) in 1998 as a senior staff fellow, became an investigator in 2000, and was tenured in 2007. He was appointed Chief of IIB in 2017. Dr. Engels holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Research Interests

Immunosuppression, infection, and inflammation in cancer

A major focus of investigation concerns the epidemiology of cancer in immunosuppressed individuals. My research on HIV-related cancers utilizes data from our HIV/AIDS Cancer Match (HACM) Study. This study links HIV/AIDS and cancer registry data from 15 U.S. regions to identify cancers arising in over 650,000 people registered with HIV/AIDS. The HACM Study allows my colleagues and me to address important research questions and examine patterns of cancer incidence that have direct public health relevance. We have used this resource to characterize trends in cancer risk among people with AIDS over the entire course of the AIDS epidemic. Our studies have documented substantial declines in Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma over time, and a rise in the risk of anal cancer. These cancer trends are part of a more general shift that we have documented, moving from AIDS-related cancers to other malignancies, as HIV-infected people age.

My coworkers and I also conduct research on cancer in solid organ transplant recipients, another immunosuppressed population. We have conducted a computerized match of the U.S. transplant registry with 16 cancer registries. This Transplant Cancer Match Study includes population-based cancer data on approximately half of the U.S. transplant population. This research is conducted in close collaboration with colleagues at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which oversees the U.S. transplant network. Using these data, we have described the overall spectrum of cancer risk in transplant recipients, and we are doing further research projects focused on specific cancers and transplant-related risk factors.  

An additional research interest in non-Hodgkin lymphoma stems from the high risk seen in people with HIV/AIDS, as well as my belief that other infections and immune-related conditions are important. My collaborators and I conducted a large retrospective cohort study of hepatitis C virus and risk of lymphoproliferative malignancies in U.S. military veterans. We demonstrated an association between chronic hepatitis B virus infection and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a large Korean cohort. We have also described the impact of HIV on the burden of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the U.S., and documented the risk of specific subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in both HIV-infected people and transplant recipients.