It Takes Two to Tango: Cancer Epidemiology, Molecular Biology and Public Policy

When:  Oct 15, 2019 from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CT)


Speaker Sam Zakhari, PhD, is senior vice president for science for DISCUS. He has more than 40 years of research experience in the fields of pharmacology, toxicology, biochemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, physiology, genetics, and molecular biology.  His areas of interest are the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on the cardiovascular system and the liver, and he has extensive expertise in biological factors in cancer development.

Cancer Epidemiology and Molecular Biology.

Knowledge of cancer causation is important epidemiologically for creating cancer-prevention strategies to reduce exposure to risk factors.  However, in the field of observational cancer epidemiology, many studies have had methodologic problems, such as measurement error and confounding factors.  In alcohol research measurement errors arise from self-reporting of alcohol consumption, which leads to underestimates.  Confounding factors can distort exposure-outcome associations and yield misleading results.

In classical epidemiology, when patients have the same diagnosis, the disease is assumed to have similar causes and progression despite variations in molecular pathology.  However, because each tumor has unique characteristics, such as molecular makeup, microenvironment, and communications within and between cancer and host cells, knowledge from genomic medicine and biomedical sciences must be incorporated.  The evolving fields of molecular pathologic epidemiology and genome-wide causation studies integrate information about exposure, patient characteristics such as immunity, and the consequent dysfunction of physiologic events that lead to cancer.  As large-scale molecular information becomes available, causal inferences can be based on knowledge rather than on only observational epidemiologic studies, which generally cannot be used to establish causality.  Indeed, the determination of causality requires both epidemiologic studies and molecular biology, as illustrated in alcohol and breast cancer research.

Speaker David Ozgo has been a senior vice president and chief economist at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) for the past 18 years.  He analyzes market trends, and he is responsible for tax and regulatory impact analysis.  He frequently testifies before legislative bodies on tax, regulatory, and market access issues.

Science and Policy

Many who make public policy decisions believe that a causal link has been identified between alcohol

consumption and breast cancer, and public health practitioners give policy advice based on such a link to legislators and regulators.  A major problem in the field of alcohol policy, however, is that the research used to make policies is often of dubious worth because much of it is based on self-reported consumption surveys, which are known to be inaccurate.  In addition, poor policy advice does little to reduce abusive drinking and detracts from treatments that do work.

Geffen Auditorium, Gonda Building, Mayo Clinic
200 1st Street SW
Rochester, MN 55902 

Location

Geffen Auditorium, Gonda Building, Mayo Clinic
200 1st Street SW
Rochester, MN 55902