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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Joshua Sampson Awarded Scientific Tenure by the NIH

Joshua Sampson

In December 2016, Joshua Sampson, Ph.D., was awarded scientific tenure by the NIH, and promoted to senior investigator in the Biostatistics Branch. Dr. Sampson focuses on the design and analysis of studies evaluating genetic, metabolomic, and epidemiologic associations with cancer.  

With his background in statistics and biology, Dr. Sampson has developed an innovative research portfolio in molecular epidemiology and made key contributions to numerous studies. Since joining the Division, he has introduced new study designs to improve the efficiency of next-generation sequencing, developed a testing framework for identifying associations with groups of rare single nucleotide polymorphisms, and designed new methods for analyzing subgroup-specific genetic effects.

He has led three large studies of cancer genetics including a large multi-stage and multi-platform genome-wide association study (GWAS) of prostate cancer and, more recently, a study of shared heritability across thirteen cancer types. In an ongoing effort, he is leading a GWAS for the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study in collaboration with Lindsay Morton, Ph.D., to find variants associated with development of secondary neoplasms after treatment.

Dr. Sampson is a leader in the emerging field of metabolomics as it applies to cancer etiology, particularly in high-quality prospective cohort studies. Together with Steven Moore, Ph.D., M.P.H., he started the DCEG Metabolomics Initiative. The aims of the Initiative are to identify metabolites or small biological molecules associated with the risk of cancer or risk factors for cancer, and metabolites that mediate the relationship between known risk factors and cancer. 

More recently, Dr. Sampson has become the lead statistician on a new NCI trial comparing one and two doses of the bivalent and nonavalent prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccines; he is playing a crucial role in designing this large non-inferiority trial. Ultimately, the findings from this study will influence international public health organizations responsible for vaccination guidelines worldwide.