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Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Melissa Rotunno, PhD

Program Director
Genomic Epidemiology Branch, Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Telephone: 240-276-7245

  • PhD - Physics, University of Milan
  • Laurea - Physics, University of Milan
Contact for questions about:
  • Statistical genetics, informatics, and application of new statistical methods
  • Genetic pleiotropic effects, heritability, and risk prediction
  • Variants of unknown significance (VUS) and curation
  • Secondary analyses of genetic and epidemiology data
  • Genetic epidemiology of brain, pancreatic, and other rare cancers (i.e., eye/retinoblastoma, head and neck, oral cavity and nasopharyngeal, thyroid, testicular)
  • Enhancing diversity in cancer genetic epidemiology studies
  • The NCI Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) Program


Melissa Rotunno, PhD, 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). In this capacity, her responsibilities include expanding and managing a portfolio of grants that supports the development and implementation of more sophisticated methods in statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology for studies of complex diseases such as cancer. This includes a focus on the many analytic and computational challenges accompanying the application of next generation sequencing technologies to large scale epidemiology studies.

Since 2017, Dr. Rotunno has served as NCI's liaison to the NIH Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) Program which offers investigators access to next-generation sequencing, genotyping, methylation, and statistical genetics services through a peer-reviewed application process. Dr. Rotunno is the NCI point of contact for the ClinGen Genomic Curation Expert Panels (U24) notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) and a member of the trans-NIH ClinGenExternal Web Site Policy working group. She is also interested in promoting opportunities to enhance diversity in cancer genetic epidemiology studies (e.g., NOT-CA-22-056, RFA-HG-23-017).

Dr. Rotunno is leading a trans-NCI and trans-NIH NOFO for secondary analysis and integration of existing data to elucidate cancer risk and related outcomes (R01 and R21) and 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.

Prior to joining EGRP, Dr. Rotunno was a staff scientist in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch of NCI's intramural Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), where she started as a postdoctoral fellow and then was a research fellow. She provided statistical and analytic technical leadership, guidance, and support for diverse genetic epidemiology projects involving high dimensional data, including germline and tumor sequencing, gene expression, copy number variation, DNA methylation, and other emerging areas essential to the understanding of cancer etiology.

Before joining NCI, Dr. Rotunno was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Milan, in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and the Complex Fluids and Molecular Biophysics Lab. She was also an exchange researcher in the Liquid Crystals Material Research Center at Boulder Colorado University.

Select Publications

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