Leah E. Mechanic, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Program Director, Genomic Epidemiology Branch

Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program
Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health
9609 Medical Center Drive, Rm. 4E104, MSC 9763
Bethesda, MD 20892
(For express delivery, use Rockville, MD 20850)

Interest Areas

  • Genetic susceptibility to cancer
  • Gene-gene and gene-environment interactions
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Colorectal cancer


  • Ph.D. - Biochemistry and Biophysics
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • M.P.H. - Epidemiology
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health
  • B.S. - Biochemistry
    Binghamton University


Dr. Leah Mechanic is a Program Director in the Genomic Epidemiology Branch (GEB)—formerly the Host Susceptibility Factors Branch (HSFB)—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. Additionally, Dr. Mechanic is involved in several trans-NIH 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 recent series of papers about challenges and opportunities in studies of gene-environment interactionsExternal Web Site Policy.  Other activities in this area include the Sequencing Strategies for Population and Cancer Epidemiology Studies (SeqSPACE) Webinar Series and development of the Genetic Simulation Resources (GSR) catalog. In addition, Dr. Mechanic is a DCCPS representative to the NCI Informatics Technology for Cancer Research (ITCR) program to support development of informatics tools throughout the cancer research continuum.  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 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.


McAllister K, Mechanic LE, Amos C, Aschard H, Blair IA, Chatterjee N, Conti D, Gauderman WJ, Hsu L, Hutter CM, Jankowska MM, Kerr J, Kraft P, Montgomery SB, Mukherjee B, Papanicolaou GJ, Patel CJ, Ritchie MD, Ritz BR, Thomas DC, Wei P, Witte JS. Current Challenges and New Opportunities for Gene-Environment Interaction Studies of Complex Diseases. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct 1;186(7):753-761.

Ritz BR, Chatterjee N, Garcia-Closas M, Gauderman WJ, Pierce BL, Kraft P, Tanner CM, Mechanic LE, McAllister K. Lessons Learned From Past Gene-Environment Interaction Successes. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Oct 1;186(7):778-786.

Mechanic LE, Lindström S, Daily KM, Sieberts SK, Amos CI, Chen HS, Cox NJ, Dathe M, Feuer EJ, Guertin MJ, Hoffman J, Liu Y, Moore JH, Myers CL, Ritchie MD, Schildkraut J, Schumacher F, Witte JS, Wang W, Williams SM; U4C Challenge Participants; U4C Challenge Data Contributors, Gillanders EM. Up For A Challenge (U4C): Stimulating innovation in breast cancer genetic epidemiology . PLoS Genet. 2017 Sep 28;13(9):e1006945.

Patel CJ, Kerr J, Thomas DC, Mukherjee B, Ritz B, Chatterjee N, Jankowska M, Madan J, Karagas MR, McAllister KA, Mechanic LE, Fallin MD, Ladd-Acosta C, Blair IA, Teitelbaum SL, Amos CI. Opportunities and Challenges for Environmental Exposure Assessment in Population-Based Studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Sep;26(9):1370-1380.

Samimi G, Bernardini MQ, Brody LC, Caga-Anan CF, Campbell IG, Chenevix-Trench G, Couch FJ, Dean M, de Hullu JA, Domchek SM, Drapkin R, Spencer Feigelson H, Friedlander M, Gaudet MM, Harmsen MG, Hurley K, James PA, Kwon JS, Lacbawan F, Lheureux S, Mai PL, Mechanic LE, Minasian LM, Myers ER, Robson ME, Ramus SJ, Rezende LF, Shaw PA, Slavin TP, Swisher EM, Takenaka M, Bowtell DD, Sherman ME. Traceback: A Proposed Framework to Increase Identification and Genetic Counseling of BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers Through Family-Based Outreach. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Jul 10;35(20):2329-2337.

Simonds NI, Ghazarian AA, Pimentel CB, Schully SD, Ellison GL, Gillanders EM, Mechanic LE. Review of the Gene-Environment Interaction Literature in Cancer: What Do We Know? Genet Epidemiol. 2016 Jul;40(5):356-65.

Pine SR, Mechanic LE, Enewold L, Bowman ED, Ryan BM, Cote ML, Wenzlaff AS, Loffredo CA, Olivo-Marston S, Chaturvedi A, Caporaso NE, Schwartz AG, Harris CC. Differential Serum Cytokine Levels and Risk of Lung Cancer Between African and European Americans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Mar;25(3):488-97.

Chen HS, Hutter CM, Mechanic LE, Amos CI, Bafna V, Hauser ER, Hernandez RD, Li C, Liberles DA, McAllister K, Moore JH, Paltoo DN, Papanicolaou GJ, Peng B, Ritchie MD, Rosenfeld G, Witte JS, Gillanders EM, Feuer EJ. Genetic simulation tools for post-genome wide association studies of complex diseases. Genet Epidemiol. 2015 Jan;39(1):11-9.

Altekruse SF, Rosenfeld GE, Carrick DM, Pressman EJ, Schully SD, Mechanic LE, Cronin KA, Hernandez BY, Lynch CF, Cozen W, Khoury MJ, Penberthy LT. SEER cancer registry biospecimen research: yesterday and tomorrow. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Dec;23(12):2681-7.

Feigelson HS, Goddard KA, Hollombe C, Tingle SR, Gillanders EM, Mechanic LE, Nelson SA. Approaches to integrating germline and tumor genomic data in cancer research. Carcinogenesis. 2014 Oct;35(10):2157-63.

Carrick DM, Mette E, Hoyle B, Rogers SD, Gillanders EM, Schully SD, Mechanic LE. The use of biospecimens in population-based research: a review of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences grant portfolio. Biopreserv Biobank. 2014 Aug;12(4):240-5

Weil CJ, Mechanic LE, Green T, Kinsinger C, Lockhart NC, Nelson SA, Rodriguez LL, Buccini LD. NCI think tank concerning the identifiability of biospecimens and "omic" data. Genet Med. 2013 Dec;15(12):997-1003.

Hutter CM, Mechanic LE, Chatterjee N, Kraft P, Gillanders EM; NCI Gene-Environment Think Tank. Gene-environment interactions in cancer epidemiology: a National Cancer Institute Think Tank report. Genet Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;37(7):643-57.

Peng B, Chen HS, Mechanic LE, Racine B, Clarke J, Clarke L, Gillanders E, Feuer EJ. Genetic Simulation Resources: a website for the registration and discovery of genetic data simulators. Bioinformatics. 2013 Apr 15;29(8):1101-2.

Ghazarian AA, Simonds NI, Bennett K, Pimentel CB, Ellison GL, Gillanders EM, Schully SD, Mechanic LE. A review of NCI's extramural grant portfolio: identifying opportunities for future research in genes and environment in cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Apr;22(4):501-7.

Mechanic LE, Chen HS, Amos CI, Chatterjee N, Cox NJ, Divi RL, Fan R, Harris EL, Jacobs K, Kraft P, Leal SM, McAllister K, Moore JH, Paltoo DN, Province MA, Ramos EM, Ritchie MD, Roeder K, Schaid DJ, Stephens M, Thomas DC, Weinberg CR, Witte JS, Zhang S, Zöllner S, Feuer EJ, Gillanders EM. Next generation analytic tools for large scale genetic epidemiology studies of complex diseases. Genet Epidemiol. 2012 Jan;36(1):22-35.

Troy JD, Hartge P, Weissfeld JL, Oken MM, Colditz GA, Mechanic LE, Morton LM. Associations between anthropometry, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Jun 15;171(12):1270-81.

Enewold L, Mechanic LE, Bowman ED, Zheng YL, Yu Z, Trivers G, Alberg AJ, Harris CC. Serum concentrations of cytokines and lung cancer survival in African Americans and Caucasians. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Jan;18(1):215-22.

Mechanic LE, Luke BT, Goodman JE, Chanock SJ, Harris CC. Polymorphism Interaction Analysis (PIA): a method for investigating complex gene-gene interactions. BMC Bioinformatics. 2008 Mar 6;9:146.

Mechanic LE, Bowman ED, Welsh JA, Khan MA, Hagiwara N, Enewold L, Shields PG, Burdette L, Chanock S, Harris CC. Common genetic variation in TP53 is associated with lung cancer risk and prognosis in African Americans and somatic mutations in lung tumors. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Feb;16(2):214-22.

Mechanic LE, Millikan RC, Player J, de Cotret AR, Winkel S, Worley K, Heard K, Heard K, Tse CK, Keku T. Polymorphisms in nucleotide excision repair genes, smoking and breast cancer in African Americans and whites: a population-based case-control study. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Jul;27(7):1377-85.

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