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Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Leah E. Mechanic, PhD, MPH

Program Director
Genomic Epidemiology Branch, Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Telephone: (240) 276-6847

  • PhD - Biochemistry and Biophysics, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • MPH - Epidemiology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health
  • BS - Biochemistry, Binghamton University
Contact for questions about:
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Complex phenotypes
  • Multi-omics
  • Polygenic risk score
  • Participant engagement


Dr. Leah Mechanic is a program director in the Genomic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) of the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). Her responsibilities include managing a portfolio of grants related to genetic factors modulating susceptibility to cancer.

Dr. Mechanic is involved with the trans-NCI Implementation Team for the Cancer Moonshot, Blue Ribbon Panel Recommendation A, “Establish a Network for Direct Patient Engagement,” and she serves as the NCI lead for the Participant Engagement and Cancer Genome Sequencing (PE-CGS) Network. Dr. Mechanic is also part of the NIH program staff participating in the Polygenic Risk Methods in Diverse Populations (PRIMED) ConsortiumExternal Web Site Policy.

Dr. Mechanic is also a scientific contact for two Notices of Special Interest (NOSIs): Development of Statistical, Population Genetics and Computational Methods Related to Polygenic Prediction of Health and Disease in Diverse Populations (NOT-HG-20-010) and Utilization of Cohorts and Prospective Study Designs for Liquid Biopsy Assay Validation for Early Detection of Cancers (NOT-CA-23-004).

Additionally, Dr. Mechanic is involved in several activities designed to address challenges and facilitate development of methods for studying gene-gene and gene-environment interactions and applying next-generation sequencing to cancer epidemiology studies. For example, Dr. Mechanic helped coordinate a project to encourage innovation in breast cancer epidemiology through the prize competition, Up For A Challenge (U4C) and a series of papers about challenges and opportunities in studies of gene-environment interactions. Other activities include the 2019 Workshop to Facilitate Cancer Systems Epidemiology Research and the ongoing Sequencing Strategies for Population and Cancer Epidemiology Studies (SeqSPACE) Webinar Series. Since 2011, Dr. Mechanic has served as DCCPS' liaison to the Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium (E2C2).

Before joining EGRP, Dr. Mechanic was a senior study director at Westat and, as team lead on the Westat Biospecimen Team for the National Children's Study, was responsible for developing procedures for collecting, processing, storing, and analyzing biospecimens. She also was involved in projects for NCI's Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial.

Dr. Mechanic first came to NCI in 2001 as a Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program fellow in the Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis (LHC), Center for Cancer Research. At LHC, she was interested in the relationship between DNA repair and cancer susceptibility and studied the molecular epidemiology of lung cancer.

Select Publications

See listing of articles authored by Dr. Mechanic in PubMed.