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Your Environment. Your Health.

Katie M. O'Brien, Ph.D.

Biostatistics & Computational Biology Branch

Katie M. O'Brien
Katie O'Brien, Ph.D.
Tel 919-541-9954
111 T W Alexander Dr
Rall Building
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Research Summary

Katie M. O’Brien, Ph.D., is an IRTA post-doctoral fellow working under the supervision of Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D. Prior to joining NIEHS in May of 2013, she earned her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For her dissertation work, she used Bayesian methods to assess the effects of well-established breast cancer susceptibility loci on disease in whites and African-Americans, and how these genetic risk factors varied by breast cancer subtype.

As a post-doc, O’Brien has continued to focus on breast cancer prevention, though her primary research focus has shifted to genetic and non-genetic risk factors for young-onset (age <50) breast cancer, using data from the Two Sister Study. She has completed a study of hormone therapy and the risk of young-onset breast cancer and a genome-wide association study of young-onset breast cancer. Ongoing projects include a study of douching, talc use, and ovarian cancer and a study of eating disorders, reproductive factors, and breast cancer.

She recently received funding from the Office of Dietary Supplements Research Scholars Program to study the relationship between Vitamin D, DNA methylation, genetic polymorphisms, and breast cancer. She will also conduct a study to examine the association between cadmium and other metals (measured in toenail samples), and risk of young-onset breast cancer.

O’Brien maintains an interest in epidemiologic methods and has conducted a study of how to best adjust for creatinine or serum lipid levels in studies of environmental chemicals measured in urine or blood. Her other research interests include ovarian cancer, breast cancer heterogeneity, and racial disparities in breast cancer incidence and mortality.

Selected Publications

* Shared first author, § Shared last author
  1. O’Brien KM, Whelan DR, Sandler DP, Hall, JE and Weinberg CR. Young-onset eating disorders, reproductive outcomes, and breast cancer. In review.
  2. O’Brien KM, Sandler DP, Taylor JA, Weinberg CR. Serum vitamin D and risk of breast cancer within five years. In review.
  3. Gonzalez NL, O'Brien KM, D'Aloisio AA, Sandler DP, Weinberg CR. Douching, Talc Use, and Risk of Ovarian Cancer. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) 2016 ():-. [Abstract]
  4. Shi M*, O’Brien KM*, Sandler DP, Taylor J, Zaykin DV, and Weinberg CR. Previous GWAS hits in relation to young-onset breast cancer. In review.
  5. O'Brien KM, Shi M, Sandler DP, Taylor JA, Zaykin DV, Keller J, Wise AS, Weinberg CR. 2016. A family-based, genome-wide association study of young-onset breast cancer: inherited variants and maternally mediated effects. European journal of human genetics: EJHG 24(9):1316-1323. [Abstract]
  6. O’Brien KM, Upson K, Cook NR, and Weinberg CR. Environmental chemicals in urine and blood: Improving methods for creatinine and lipid adjustment. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2016; 124(2): 220-227
  7. O’Brien KM, Sun J, Sandler DP, DeRoo LA, and Weinberg CR. Risk factors for young-onset breast cancer. Cancer Causes and Control. 2015; 26: 1771-1778.
  8. O’Brien KM, Fei C, Sandler DP, Nichols HB, DeRoo LA, and Weinberg CR. Hormone therapy and young-onset breast cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2015; 181: 799-807. [Abstract]
  9. O’Brien KM, Cole SR, Engel LS, Bensen JT, Poole C, Herring AH and Millikan RC. Breast cancer subtypes and previously established genetic risk factors: A Bayesian approach. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2014; 23: 84-97.
  10. O’Brien KM, Cole SR, Poole C, Bensen JT, Herring AH, Engel LS and Millikan RC. Replication of breast cancer susceptibility loci in whites and African-Americans using a Bayesian approach. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2014; 179: 382-94.
  11. Mordukhovich I, Reiter PL, Backes DM, Family L, McCollough LE, O’Brien KM, Razzaghi H, and Olshan AF. A review of African American-white differences in risk factors for cancer: prostate cancer, Cancer Causes and Control. 2011; 3: 341-357.
  12. O’Brien KM, Cole SR, Tse CK, Perou CM, Carey LA, Foulkes WD, Dressler LG, Geradts J, and Millikan RC. Intrinsic breast tumor subtypes, race, and long-term survival in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, Clinical Cancer Research. 2010; 16: 6100-6110.
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