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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Noel Weiss Gives Visiting Scholar Lecture; Shares Lessons Learned in Presenting Data on Gene-Environment Interactions

Noel Weiss speaking at podium

Dr. Noel Weiss

The DCEG community had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Dr. Noel Weiss, professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington (UW), School of Public Health and Community Medicine, as a Visiting Scholar in March 2016. Dr. Weiss is well known for the depth and breadth of his original research in both etiologic and translational epidemiology. In addition, he is also credited with helping the UW epidemiology program to build on their strong reputation in infectious diseases to a broader expertise and leadership role in the study of chronic diseases as well.

In welcoming remarks Robert N. Hoover, M.D., Sc.D., described Dr. Weiss not only as an outstanding epidemiologist and friend, but also an excellent teacher and mentor. DCEG has benefited greatly from the large number of expertly trained and talented investigators from UW who have completed post-doctoral training here.

In his seminar to the Division, titled “Presenting data on potential gene-environment interactions: Lessons from recent studies of the epidemiology of cancer,” Dr. Weiss neatly chronicled the common mistakes in epidemiological methods that can result in the reporting of misleading or incorrect associations. Many of his practical ‘lessons learned’ received knowing chortles from the amused and highly engaged audience.

Over the course of two roundtable discussions Dr. Weiss focused on questions regarding the sufficiency or appropriateness of data to determine screening efficacy for colorectal cancer and precision prevention.

Dr. Weiss graciously spent his lunch hour in the company of a dozen DCEG fellows, learning about their backgrounds and asking specific questions to each about their research focus. The group asked Dr. Weiss his perspective on jobs, the field of epidemiology in the consortium era and the role of young investigators, as well as his career as a teacher. Co-coordinator of the brown-bag session Clara Bodelon, Ph.D., fellow in the Clinical Genetics Branch said, “Dr. Weiss offered valuable insight for fellows, especially regarding epidemiologic research and career paths."

In reflecting on the visit, Dr. Hoover remarked, “The purpose of the Visiting Scholar Program is to enrich the scientific discourse within the Division, establish closer ties with collaborators and their institutions, and provide opportunities for junior investigators and fellows to interact with giants in the field. It gives me particular pleasure to host not only an esteemed colleague, but also a jovial and generous friend like Noel.”