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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Neil E. Caporaso, M.D.

Senior Investigator
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics

NCI Shady Grove | Room 7E102


Dr. Caporaso received his undergraduate degree in chemistry and cell biology research and an M.S. in environmental science from Rutgers University, and his M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1980. After completing a residency in internal medicine in 1983, he joined the NCI as an oncology fellow in the Medicine Branch and a research fellow and biotechnology fellow in the Environmental Epidemiology Branch of NCI. In 1996, he became Chief of the Pharmacogenetics Section of the DCEG Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB). He served as Chief of GEB from 2011 to 2016.

Dr. Caporaso serves on the DCEG Biorepository Planning Group, the Research Evaluation Panel and Biomarker Advisory Committees of the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), the Steering Committee for the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Cohort Study, the Technology Planning Group for the Next Generation Cohort for DCEG, the Steering Committee of the International Lung Cancer Consortium, and the NCI Data Access Committee charged with implementing sharing of available NCI genome-wide association study data with the scientific community. Dr. Caporaso is the Genetic Epidemiology Editor of Cancer Biomarkers Epidemiology and Genetics and teaches at the George Washington Milken School of Public Health and the University of Maryland, as well as the Molecular Epidemiology Course in DCEG, and the Translational Research in Clinical Oncology (TRACO) course for oncology fellows at NIH.

Research Interests

Dr. Caporaso has focused his research on understanding the molecular and population determinants of lung cancer and smoking. To that end, he and his colleagues designed the EAGLE (Environment And Genetics in Lung cancer Etiology) Study, a large, population-based case-control study of lung cancer in Italy, to provide a resource for descriptive, molecular, clinical outcome, and genetic/genomic studies. He incorporated novel behavioral aspects such as nicotine dependency, which has made possible a series of studies involving Time To First Cigarette (TTFC), in which he showed that short TTFC constituted a risk factor for lung cancer and later for COPD. Also, Dr. Caporaso and his colleagues have conducted a series of studies exploring biomarkers (microbiome, cytokines, metabolomics) in relation to smoking and lung cancer and plan to consolidate this work in risk model studies.

Dr. Caporaso’s second major research focus involves studying the etiology of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in familial kindreds, and related hematologic and lymphoproliferative conditions including Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and Waldenström macroglobulinemia, among others. Dr. Caporaso, along with his colleagues and long-time collaborators, created an international consortium that identified monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL) as a precursor condition to CLL. Within this group, he has been conducting follow-up studies of MBL as well as other investigations involving genetic analyses (GWAS and linkage), chromosome mosaic biomarker studies, single cell analyses, and planned studies of somatic mutations.

In addition, Dr. Caporaso has recently begun investigating the impact of circadian disruption on cancer with recent publications on social jetlag and cancer, a diurnal influence on metabolomic markers, sleep studies. A study of insulin levels in relations to health markers in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is in preparation. 

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