Dr. Hongmei Nan’s major research interest is in the molecular and genetic epidemiology of cancer. Dr. Nan’s studies are focused on investigating the roles of genetic susceptibility; epigenetic factors, such as methylation; biomarkers; and environmental factors, and their potential interactions in the etiology and prevention of cancer. Dr. Nan evaluates genetic susceptibility using both candidate gene and genome-wide association study (GWAS) approaches. Dr. Nan’s research also includes studies in Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE). In a recent study aiming to evaluate the effect of aspirin use, the 8q24 cancer susceptibility SNP rs6983267 identified from the GWAS, and their interaction on the risk of colorectal cancer according to CTNNB1 alterations, Dr. Nan and her colleagues found that the joint protective effects of regular use of aspirin and the T allele of rs6983267 on the risk of colorectal cancer was limited to tumors with activated CTNNB1. Since the functional significance of risk alleles identified by GWAS remain largely uncertain, a GWAS-MPE approach should be one of the next steps after GWAS. In addition, as a member of the Colorectal Cancer GWAS Consortium (GECCO), Dr. Nan led a genome-wide analysis of gene × environment interactions between aspirin/NSAID use and ~2.7 million SNPs in more than 8,500 case-control pairs from 10 large national and international population-based studies to comprehensively identify common genetic markers that may confer differential benefit from aspirin/NSAIDs chemoprevention. As reported in JAMA, Dr. Nan and her colleagues found that colorectal cancer risk differed according to two SNPs at chromosomes 12 and 15. The JAMA editorial commentary highlighted that this study is scientifically noteworthy for several distinct reasons, including its high impact on clinical practice. Her JAMA paper has also been commented on by Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, in his NIH Director’s Blog, wherein Dr. Nan’s study has been highlighted to provide an important proof-of-principle of the potential of expanding the President’s Precision Medicine approach into disease prevention as well as therapy. Moreover, as a director of Epidemiology Consultation Core at IU Simon Cancer Center, Dr. Nan supports clinicians’ research projects and proposals which need epidemiologic advice, thereby promoting collaborative interactions between clinicians and epidemiologists and thus facilitating joint research projects and grant funding proposals.

Courses Taught

  • E610 Chronic Disease Epidemiology

Selected Publications

  • Nan H*, Niu T, Hunter DJ, Han J. Missense polymorphisms in matrix metalloproteinase genes and skin cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Dec;17(12):3551-7. (*corresponding author) PMCID: PMC2664625
  • Nan H*, Kraft P, Hunter DJ, Han J. Genetic variants in pigmentation genes, pigmentary phenotypes, and risk of skin cancer in Caucasians. Int J Cancer. 2009 Aug 15;125(4):909-17. (*corresponding author) PMCID: PMC2700213
  • Nan H*, Kraft P, Qureshi AA, Guo Q, Chen C, Hankinson SE, Hu FB, Thomas G, Hoover RN, Chanock S, Hunter DJ, Han J. Genome-wide association study of tanning phenotype in a population of European ancestry. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Sep;129(9):2250-7. (*corresponding author) PMCID: PMC2758927
  • Nan H*, Qureshi AA, Han J. Melanoma susceptibility variants on chromosome 20q11.22 are associated with pigmentary traits and the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Feb 1;162(2):461-3. (*corresponding author) PMCID: PMC2851848
  • Nan H*, Qureshi AA, Prescott J, De Vivo I, Han J. Genetic variants in telomere-maintaining genes and skin cancer risk. Human Genetics. 2011 Mar;129(3):247-53. (*corresponding author) PMCID: PMC3443196
  • Nan H*, Xu M*, Zhang J, Zhang M, Kraft P, Qureshi AA, Chen C, Guo Q, Hu FB, Rimm EB, Curhan G, Song Y, Amos CI, Wang LE, Lee JE, Wei Q, Hunter DJ, Han J. Genome-wide association study identifies nidogen 1 (NID1) as a susceptibility locus to cutaneous nevi and melanoma risk. Human Molecular Genetics. 2011 Jul 1; 20(13):2673-9. (*co-first author) PMCID: PMC3110001
  • Nan H, Xu M, Kraft P, Qureshi AA, Chen C, Guo Q, Hu FB, Curhan G, Amos CI, Wang LE, Lee JE, Wei Q, Hunter DJ, Han J. Genome-wide association study identifies novel alleles associated with risk of cutaneous basal cell carcinoma. Human Molecular Genetics. 2011 Sep 15; 20(18):3718-24. PMCID: PMC3159556
  • Nan H*, Du MM*, De Vivo I, Manson JE, Liu S, McTiernan A, Curb JD, Lessin L, Bonner MR, Guo Q, Qureshi AA, Hunter DJ, Han J. Telomere Length and Risk of Incident Cutaneous Melanoma. Cancer Research. 2011 Nov 1; 71(21):6758-63. (*co-first author) PMCID: PMC3206204
  • Nan H, Giovannucci EL, Wu K, Selhub J, Paul L, Fuchs CS, Cho E. Pre-diagnostic leukocyte genomic DNA methylation and the risk of colorectal cancer in women. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e59455. PMCID: PMC3613344
  • Nan H*, Lee JE*, Rimm EB, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Cho E. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer by folic acid fortification in the United States. Annals of Epidemiology. 2013 Sep; 23(9):558-63. (*co-first author) PMCID: PMC3749268
  • Nan H, Morikawa T, Kuchiba A, Yamauchi M, Kraft P, Giovannucci EL, Fuchs CS, Freedman ML, Ogino S, Chan AT. Aspirin use, the 8q24 cancer susceptibility SNP rs6983267, and risk of colorectal cancer according to CTNNB1 (ß-catenin) alterations. JNCI.2013 Dec 18;105(24):1852-61. PMCID: PMC3866156