Julie Palmer, ScD, Associate Director of Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center, Professor of Epidemiology at BU School of Public Health and Associate Director for Population Sciences at the BU-BMC Cancer Center, has been appointed Director ad interim of the BU-BMC Cancer Center, effective July 1. Dr. Palmer succeeds Avi Spira, MD, who was named Global Head of the JNJ (Johnson & Johnson) Lung Cancer Initiative.
Dr. Palmer has devoted much of her career to investigating the etiology of breast cancer, and breast cancer in African American (AA) women in particular. She is a founder and principal investigator of the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), a prospective cohort study of 59,000 AA women who enrolled in 1995 and have been actively followed by biennial questionnaires for more than 20 years. The study, which includes repositories of saliva, blood and tumor tissue samples from study participants, has been a tremendous resource for research on modifiable factors and genetic factors related to risk of cancer in AA women. She also is a co-founder, with collaborators at two other institutions, of the AMBER Consortium, designed to improve knowledge on causes of estrogen-receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer, a subtype that disproportionately affects AA women. Dr. Palmer’s current research is focused on developing an improved breast cancer risk prediction model for use in AA women at the primary care level and on establishing the prevalence and penetrance of susceptibility variants from BRCA1, BRCA2, and other cancer genes in an unselected AA population.
Dr. Palmer serves on the scientific advisory boards of various studies and foundations, including the NIEHS Sister Study and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. She chairs an ad hoc working group of the NIH National Cancer Advisory Board. Dr. Palmer has received numerous awards, including the BU School of Public Health Distinguished Alumni Award, the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Service Award and the Eighth Annual AACR Distinguished Lectureship on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities. Most recently, she was selected to serve as a Komen Scholar and received a Komen Leadership grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Dr. Palmer holds a BA from Brown University, an MPH from BUSPH and a ScD in Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Dr. Spira will remain the Alexander Graham Bell Professor and the PI of a number of grants, work clinically at BMC, and continue to work with us to compete for future lung cancer research grants, but will transition his industry-sponsored research grants to colleagues at BUSM.