- Chief, Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery
Program Director, Master of Population Health Sciences
Associate Director, Prevention and Control, Siteman Cancer Center
Deputy Director, Institute for Public Health
Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine
Phone: (314) 454-7939
Fax: (314) 747-3935
Dr. Colditz was born in Australia and received his BSc and medical degree from the University of Queensland, Australia, and his MPH and Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard University School of Public Health. In 1990, he was elected a Fellow in the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
For 25 years, Dr. Colditz was at Harvard University where he served in a number of positions. From 1996 to 2006, he was the principal investigator on the Nurses’ Health Study, a longitudinal study established in 1976, of 121,701 nurses, investigating risk factors for major chronic diseases in women. He established and was the founding principal investigator on the Growing Up Today Study relating diet and lifestyle of 16,883 adolescents ages 9 to 14 at entry to their growth and health outcomes. In 1998, he was promoted to professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Colditz was also associate director of Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School from 2005 to 2006. He was director of the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention at HSPH. Within the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, he was deputy associate director for shared resources and leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Program.
With longstanding interest in the causes and prevention of chronic disease, particularly among women, Dr. Colditz has evaluated numerous lifestyle factors, documenting that current use of postmenopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer. He has developed statistical models to more accurately classify levels of risk for several cancers. Other areas of his expertise include tobacco and obesity in relation to cancer. He also documented that smoking increases risk of stroke and total mortality among women and that weight gain increases the risk of diabetes. He has focused extensively on the validation of self-report information for use in large-scale epidemiologic studies and refined diet assessment tools for use in public health settings such as WIC. He has devoted much effort to the application of scientific advances in cancer prevention to broader population programs working with the American Cancer Society and the Massachusetts Cancer Control Program. He also developed the website, Your Disease Risk, to communicate tailored prevention messages to the public. He leads a team writing the Cancer News in Context blog. He continues to pursue approaches to the translation of epidemiologic data to improve risk stratification and tailor prevention messages and screening strategies.
Dr. Colditz sits on multiple committees to further cancer prevention efforts internationally. He chaired the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine work group, Improving Health Research on Small Populations; chaired the International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group; was an adviser to the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative led by former Vice President Joe Biden; and currently serves on the NIH Council of Councils.
In 2014, Dr. Colditz received two prestigious awards: the American Society of Clinical Oncology-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture for his contributions to cancer prevention and management and the American Association for Cancer Research Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Prevention Research. In 2012, Dr. Colditz was appointed to a five-year term on the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors, a group that makes recommendations on the research priorities conducted or supported by the Institute. In November 2011, Dr. Colditz was awarded the American Cancer Society’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for his dedication to conducting research that focuses on the causes and prevention of chronic diseases and cancer. In October 2006, on the basis of professional achievement and his commitment to public health, he was elected to membership of the Institute of Medicine, an independent body that advises the U.S. government on many issues affecting public health. Additionally, Dr. Colditz has filled many professional leadership roles.
Dr. Colditz served as editor-in-chief of the journal Cancer Causes and Control from 1998 to 2006. In 2004, he was awarded the American Cancer Society-Cissy Hornung Clinical Research Professorship. He has contributed to reports of the Surgeon General on Tobacco and Health, served on committees of the National Academies of Science addressing health effects of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam Veterans (1992 to 1995 and 1995 to 1996), and served on the Committee to Assess Potential Health Effects from Exposure to Pave Paws Low-Level Phased Array Radiofrequency Energy. He also contributed chapters to the report from the National Academy of Science entitled “Fulfilling the Potential of Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.” He has served on several National Cancer Institute scientific peer-review committees including Subcommittee E (program projects) and Subcommittee A (Cancer Center Support Grants), and is currently chair of the Center for Scientific Research Epidemiology of Cancer (EPIC) study section.
Dr. Colditz is a highly cited medical researcher. He has edited numerous books on cancer prevention and health promotion and the “Encyclopedia of Cancer in Society.” Citations and citation metrics can be found at http://www.researcherid.com/rid/A-3963-2009.
Dr. Colditz currently directs the Master of Population Health Science program at Washington University School of Medicine. This 10-month program is designed for physicians seeking training in population health science research methods. He is the co-director of the Cell to Society Pathway doctoral training program. Dr. Colditz is the principal investigator of the Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities at Siteman Cancer Center and leads studies addressing causes and outcomes of breast cancer and multiple myeloma. Additionally, Dr. Colditz is the principal investigator of the Washington University Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control (WU-ISC3), a five-year, NCI-funded transdisciplinary research center that conducts implementation research to help eliminate cancer disparities in rural and other disadvantaged communities.