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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Mark Purdue, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

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Phone: 240-760-6600

Mark Purdue, Ph.D.

Mark Purdue, Ph.D.

Organization:National Cancer Institute
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch
Address:NCI Shady Grove
Room 6E140


Dr. Purdue received a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Toronto, Canada. He joined DCEG in 2004 as a postdoctoral fellow within the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, was appointed as a tenure-track investigator in 2009, and was awarded NIH scientific tenure in 2017. He has received several awards for his research in molecular epidemiology, including DCEG and NIH Fellowship Achievement awards and a DCEG Intramural Research Award.

Research Interests

Dr. Purdue’s interests center on applying molecular and classical epidemiologic methods to study the causes of cancer and to improve exposure assessment. He is particularly interested in investigating the etiology of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney cancer, and evaluating the potential carcinogenicity of trichloroethylene and other chlorinated solvents.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

While severe immune dysregulation is an established risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), it is unclear whether subtle, subclinical immune system function influences lymphomagenesis in the general population. Dr. Purdue has been conducting several molecular epidemiologic investigations to address this research question. He is also conducting research to better understand the etiology of multiple myeloma, a highly lethal B-cell malignancy.

Kidney Cancer

Dr. Purdue co-led the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). He and his collaborators identified EPAS1, encoding hypoxia inducible factor 2-alpha, and a nongenic region on 11q13.3 to be associated with RCC. He is extending his investigations of RCC genetics in several ways, including further fine-mapping of identified gene regions, expanding the size of the GWAS, and planning investigations of gene-environment interaction with established RCC risk factors such as body mass index, hypertension, and smoking. Dr. Purdue is also conducting other investigations within case-control and cohort studies to evaluate associations with occupational lead exposure and other suspected risk factors for RCC.


Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chlorinated solvent mainly used as a degreasing agent to clean metal parts. IARC has classified TCE as a probable carcinogen (Group 2A), although the evidence of carcinogenicity in humans is limited. To better understand whether TCE is a human carcinogen, Dr. Purdue is leading epidemiologic investigations of workplace exposure to TCE and risk of NHL and RCC, two of the malignancies most convincingly associated with exposure to this chemical. He is also investigating whether exposure to tetrachloroethylene and other chlorinated solvents is associated with cancer risk overall.