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Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Elizabeth M. Gillanders, PhD

Branch Chief
Genomic Epidemiology Branch, Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Telephone: 240-276-6764

  • PhD - Genetic Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • MS - Molecular Genetics, The Johns Hopkins University
  • BA - French and Art History, College of William and Mary
Contact for questions about:
  • Genetic epidemiology of cancer
  • Innovative methods for genetic epidemiology
  • Genetic architecture of cancer across populations
  • Genetic heterogeneity of high-risk cancer families
  • Secondary analyses of genetic data
  • Patient engagement and cancer genome sequencing


Elizabeth M. Gillanders, PhD, is chief of the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program's (EGRP) Genomic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) and manages its research portfolio and initiatives focusing on factors that influence personal susceptibility to cancer in humans, such as genetic, epigenetic, immunological, hormonal, and biological pathways; and social, cultural, racial, and ethnic factors. She also has an adjunct research appointment in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch in NCI's intramural Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). Her research interests include the identification of melanoma susceptibility genes, assessment of the risk of melanoma and other cancers related to variations in these genes, and evaluation of gene-environment interactions.

Dr. Gillanders is involved in several activities designed to identify and address challenges in the genetic epidemiology of cancer and specifically the development of innovative methods for studying the genetic architecture of cancer and applying next-generation sequencing to cancer epidemiology studies. For example, Dr. Gillanders helped coordinate a project to encourage innovation in breast cancer epidemiology through the prize competition, Up For A Challenge (U4C). Additionally, Dr. Gillanders represents NCI on several NIH-wide initiatives relevant to the genetic epidemiology of complex diseases such as the International Common Disease Alliance and the All of Us Research program. Currently, Dr. Gillanders serves as chair of the Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) Board of Directors. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the International Genetic Epidemiology Society. Finally, Dr. Gillanders has been involved with the trans-NCI Implementation Team for the Cancer Moonshot, Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendation A, “Establish a Network for Direct Patient Engagement.”  As part of this work, she is co-leading notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) to support the Participant Engagement and Cancer Genome Sequencing (PE-CGS) Network (U2C and U24).

Dr. Gillanders joined EGRP in 2007 as a program director in the Host Susceptibility Factors Branch (HSFB) and was named chief of the branch in early 2009. Prior to coming to work for EGRP, she was with the intramural research program at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), where she headed its Genetic Epidemiology Unit within the Cancer Genetics Branch. Her applied research at NHGRI focused primarily on genetic epidemiology of cancer susceptibility, with an emphasis on melanoma, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. She also investigated novel methods which could improve upon the power of conventional methods of gene discovery for complex traits in general.

Dr. Gillanders also teaches an undergraduate introduction to epidemiology course at McDaniel College.

Select Publications

See listing of publications authored by Dr. Gillanders in PubMed.