Yin Cao

Yin Cao, ScD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Surgery

Learn more about Dr. Cao's research.

Graduate School

ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA. 2013.
MPH, Columbia University, New York, NY. 2009.

Post Doctoral Education

Research Fellow, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA. 2013-2015.

Honors and Awards

AACR-Molecular Epidemiology Working Group Scholar-in-Training Award; 2017.
AACR-Aflac, Inc. Scholar-in-Training Award; 2016, 2013.
Best Score Abstract, International Molecular Pathological Epidemiology Meeting; 2016.
Lewis Hackett Endowment Stipend, Harvard University; 2012-2013.
David H. Peipers Fellowship, Harvard University; 2009-2012.
Brian MacMahon Travel Scholarship, Harvard University; 2010, 2012-2013.
J. & M. Nichols Grant and Lewis Hackett Endowment Stipend, Harvard University; 2009-2011.
AACR-Merck Scholar-in-Training Award; 2010.
Siyuan Fellowship, Tsinghua University, China; 2003-2007.

Research Interests

Dr. Cao is a cancer epidemiologist focusing on risk prediction, screening and early detection, and chemoprevention of major cancers, particularly gastrointestinal malignancies. She has extensive training and research experience in genetic, molecular, and nutritional epidemiology, and was an Instructor of Medicine at the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (2015-2017) before joining Washington University. Her research areas include the etiology and early detection of young onset colorectal cancer, the role of microbiome and host immunity in carcinogenesis, and the development of precision aspirin chemoprevention guidelines. She will utilize multiple -omic technologies, advanced prediction tools (e.g. machine learning), as well as methods in comparative effectiveness research (e.g. decision modeling), to develop personalized cancer prevention and early detection strategies.

Contact Information

660 S. Euclid Ave.
Campus Box 8100
St. Louis MO 63110
(314) 747-3925

Selected Publications

Dr. Cao on PubMed

Hamada T*, Cao Y*, Qian ZR*, Masugi Y* (co-first authors), Nowak JA, Yang J, Song M, Mima K, Kosumi K, Liu L, Shi Y, Silva A, Gu M, Li W, Keum N, Zhang X, Wu K, Meyerhardt JA, Giovannucci EL, Giannakis M, Rodig SJ, Freeman GJ, Nevo D, Wang M, Chan AT, Fuchs CS, Nishihara R, Ogino S. Aspirin use and colorectal cancer survival according to tumor CD274 (PD-L1) expression status. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2017 Apr 13. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.70.7547. 

Cao Y, Wu K, Mehta R, Drew DA, Song M, Lochhead P, Nguyen LH, Izard J, Fuchs CS, Ogino S, Garrett WS, Huttenhower C, Ogino S, Giovannucci EL, Chan AT. Long-term use of antibiotics and risk of colorectal adenoma. Gut. 2017 Apr 4. pii: gutjnl-2016-313413. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313413. 

Mehta RS*, Nishihara R*, Cao Y*, Song M* (co-first authors), Mima K, Qian ZR, et al. Association of dietary patterns with risk of colorectal cancer subtypes classified by Fusobacterium nucleatum in tumor tissue. JAMA Oncology. 2017 Jan 26. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.6374. 

Cao Y, Strate LL, Keeley BR, Wu K, Giovannucci EL, Chan AT. Meat consumption and risk of incident diverticulitis. Gut. 2017 Jan 9. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313082.

Lebwohl B, Cao Y, Zong G, Hu FB, Green P, Neugut AI, Rimm EB, Sampson S, Dougherty L, Giovannucci EL, Willett WC, Sun Q, Chan AT. Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2017;357:j1892.

Cao Y, Nishihara R, Qian ZR, Song M, Mima K, Inamura K, Nowak JA, Drew DA, Lochhead P, Nosho K, Morikawa T, Zhang X, Wu K, Wang M, Garrett WS, Giovannucci EL, Fuchs CS, Chan AT, Ogino S. Regular aspirin use associates with lower risk of colorectal cancers with low numbers of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Gastroenterology. 2016 Nov;151(5):879-892.

Song M*, Nishihara R*, Cao Y*, Chun E* (co-first authors), Qian ZR, Mima K, Inamura K, Masugi Y, Nowak JA, Nosho K, Wu K, Wang M, Giovannucci E, Garrett WS, Fuchs CS, Ogino S, Chan AT. Marine ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and risk of colorectal cancer characterized by tumor-infiltrating T cells. JAMA Oncology. 2016 Sep 1;2(9):1197-206.

Hanyuda A, Ogino S, Qian ZR, Nishihara R, Chan AT, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Cao Y. Body mass index and risk of colorectal cancer according to tumor lymphocytic infiltrate. International Journal of Cancer. 2016 Aug 15;139(4):854-68.

Cao Y, Nishihara R, Wu K, Wang M, Ogino S, Spiegelman D, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci EL, Chan AT. Population-wide impact of long-term use of aspirin and the risk of cancer. JAMA Oncology. 2016 Jun 1;2(6):762-9.

Drew DA, Cao Y, Chan AT. Aspirin and colorectal cancer: the promise of precision chemoprevention. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2016 Mar;16(3):173-86.

Cao Y, Willet WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. Light-to-moderate alcohol intake, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer. BMJ. 2015;351:h4238.

Cao Y, Rosner BA, Ma J, Tamimi RM, Chan AT, Fuchs CS, Wu K, Giovannucci EL. Assessing individual risk for high-risk colorectal adenoma at first-time screening colonoscopy. International Journal of Cancer. 2015 Oct 1;137(7):1719-28.

Mima K*, Nishihara R*, Qian ZR*, Cao Y* (co-first authors), Sukawa Y, Nowak JA et al. Fusobacterium nucleatum in colorectal carcinoma tissue and patient prognosis. Gut. 2015 Aug 26. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2015-310101.

Cao Y, Lindström S, Schumacher F, Stevens VL, Albanes D, Berndt S et al. Insulin-like growth factor pathway genetic polymorphisms, circulating IGF1 and IGFBP3, and prostate cancer survival. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2014 Jun;106(6).

Cao Y and Ma J. Body mass index, prostate cancer-specific mortality, and biochemical recurrence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Prevention Research (Phila). 2011 Apr;4(4):486-501.

Editorial Positions

2016 - Reviewer, World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Continuous Update Project (CUP) systematic literature review (SLR) on colorectal cancer.

Ad Hoc Reviewer
JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, BMJ, JAMA Oncology, Gut, Molecular Psychiatry, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Thorax, Oncotarget, Cancer Prevention Research, PLOS One, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, British Journal of Cancer, British Journal of Nutrition, BMC Gastroenterology, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, European Journal of Nutrition, Cancer Causes & Control, Journal of Urology, Digestive and Liver Disease.


Cao Y & Giovannucci EL. Obesity and prostate cancer. Obesity and Cancer, Recent Results in Cancer Research, edited by T. Pischon and K. Nimptsch. Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-42542-9_8.

Cao Y, Mucci L, & Giovannucci EL. The role of nutrition and diet in prostate cancer. Preventive Nutrition 5th Edition: The Comprehensive Guide for Health Professionals, edited by A. Bendich, R.J. Deckelbaum. Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-22431-2_10.