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While many think of epidemiology as indicative of infectious disease, it actually designates the study of patterns of disease.

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Amanda Phipps explains this and her research into colorectal cancer.

She discusses

  • How a cancer epidemiologist begins to approach colorectal cancer,
  • What types of samples they are able to find and what types of patterns they are looking for, and
  • How microbiomes factor into their studies and what may be significant.

Amanda Phipps is Associate Professor of Epidemiology and the Associate Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Washington.

She explains that cancer epidemiology entails asking what puts some people at risk, why do some people develop certain kinds of cancer like breast cancer while others don’t develop any or develop different kinds. Further, among those who do develop cancer, what predicts a good prognoses versus bad?

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She remarks that researchers try and get very specific about their subsets of study. Even with the same type of cancer like breast or colorectal cancer, each cancer is very different.  There are different sets of genetic changes, risk factors, and courses of treatment.

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She discusses her research into colorectal cancer and the effort to gather as much data about their subjects as possible to identify certain patterns.  She is also looking at the microbiomes from the tissue samples of these patients, comparing cancerous and noncancerous tissues.

She explains their methodology and tests they perform, including the DDR PCR test, as well as a bacterium they’ve identified that seems to show a significant pattern in relation to colorectal cancer. She also touches on some other studies and future interests including immunotherapy responses and investigating associations between sleep apnea and certain cancers

To find out more, see her faculty web page:

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