Julie R. Palmer, ScD, MPH

Karin Grunebaum Cancer Research Professor, Medicine

Julie Palmer
1010 Commonwealth Ave


Dr. Palmer is a cancer epidemiologist based at the Slone Epidemiology Center, with research projects spanning cancer early detection, etiology, and survivorship. Her primary focus is on elucidating reasons for the disproportionately high incidence of hormone receptor negative breast cancer in African American women and on understanding and reducing racial disparities in breast cancer mortality. She is a founding leader of the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), a prospective cohort study of 59,000 African American women who enrolled in 1995 and have been followed by biennial questionnaire since that time. Her breast cancer research within the BWHS includes work on risk prediction models for breast cancer in African American women, identifying differences in childbearing patterns as a contributing cause to the excess incidence of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in African American women, and investigating the interrelationships of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and inflammation on breast cancer risk. Her current grants support work on somatic mutations, epigenetics, and gene expressions profiles in breast cancer tumors from African American women, setting the stage for a better understanding of the role of epidemiologic and genetic factors in etiology and prognosis. Dr. Palmer has served on many NIH and external advisory committees, including as Chair of the NIH Cancer, Cardiovascular, and Sleep Epidemiology Study Section, 2015-2017, and Co-Chair of a Working Group for the National Cancer Advisory Board, NCI, 2018-2019.

Other Positions

  • Professor, Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Director, Slone Epidemiology Center, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Co-Director, BU-BMC Cancer Center, Boston University
  • Member, Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, Boston University
  • Member, Genome Science Institute, Boston University


  • Harvard University, ScD
  • Boston University, MPH
  • Boston University, BS
  • Brown University, BA


  • Published on 12/8/2022

    Schedin P, Palmer JR. Can Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies Be Tailored to Biologic Subtype and Unique Reproductive Windows? J Natl Cancer Inst. 2022 Dec 08; 114(12):1575-1576. PMID: 35723566.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/10/2022

    Gao G, Zhao F, Ahearn TU, Lunetta KL, Troester MA, Du Z, Ogundiran TO, Ojengbede O, Blot W, Nathanson KL, Domchek SM, Nemesure B, Hennis A, Ambs S, McClellan J, Nie M, Bertrand K, Zirpoli G, Yao S, Olshan AF, Bensen JT, Bandera EV, Nyante S, Conti DV, Press MF, Ingles SA, John EM, Bernstein L, Hu JJ, Deming-Halverson SL, Chanock SJ, Ziegler RG, Rodriguez-Gil JL, Sucheston-Campbell LE, Sandler DP, Taylor JA, Kitahara CM, O'Brien KM, Bolla MK, Dennis J, Dunning AM, Easton DF, Michailidou K, Pharoah PDP, Wang Q, Figueroa J, Biritwum R, Adjei E, Wiafe S, Ambrosone CB, Zheng W, Olopade OI, García-Closas M, Palmer JR, Haiman CA, Huo D. Polygenic risk scores for prediction of breast cancer risk in women of African ancestry: a cross-ancestry approach. Hum Mol Genet. 2022 Sep 10; 31(18):3133-3143. PMID: 35554533.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/5/2022

    Bertrand KA, Zirpoli G, Niharika Pillalamarri B, Szalat R, Palmer JR, Kataria Y. Prevalence of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance in US black women. Am J Hematol. 2022 Sep; 97(9):E341-E343. PMID: 35723873.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/13/2022

    Townsend MK, Trabert B, Fortner RT, Arslan AA, Buring JE, Carter BD, Giles GG, Irvin SR, Jones ME, Kaaks R, Kirsh VA, Knutsen SF, Koh WP, Lacey JV, Langseth H, Larsson SC, Lee IM, Martínez ME, Merritt MA, Milne RL, O'Brien KM, Orlich MJ, Palmer JR, Patel AV, Peters U, Poynter JN, Robien K, Rohan TE, Rosenberg L, Sandin S, Sandler DP, Schouten LJ, Setiawan VW, Swerdlow AJ, Ursin G, van den Brandt PA, Visvanathan K, Weiderpass E, Wolk A, Yuan JM, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Tworoger SS, Wentzensen N. Cohort Profile: The Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium (OC3). Int J Epidemiol. 2022 Jun 13; 51(3):e73-e86. PMID: 34652432.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/5/2022

    Yiannakou I, Barber LE, Li S, Adams-Campbell LL, Palmer JR, Rosenberg L, Petrick JL. A Prospective Analysis of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Colorectal Cancer in the Black Women's Health Study. J Nutr. 2022 May 05; 152(5):1254-1262. PMID: 34910194.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 5/4/2022

    Jordahl KM, Shcherbina A, Kim AE, Su YR, Lin Y, Wang J, Qu C, Albanes D, Arndt V, Baurley JW, Berndt SI, Bien SA, Bishop DT, Bouras E, Brenner H, Buchanan DD, Budiarto A, Campbell PT, Carreras-Torres R, Casey G, Cenggoro TW, Chan AT, Conti DV, Dampier CH, Devall MA, Díez-Obrero V, Dimou N, Drew DA, Figueiredo JC, Gallinger S, Giles GG, Gruber SB, Gsur A, Gunter MJ, Hampel H, Harlid S, Harrison TA, Hidaka A, Hoffmeister M, Huyghe JR, Jenkins MA, Joshi AD, Keku TO, Larsson SC, Le Marchand L, Lewinger JP, Li L, Mahesworo B, Moreno V, Morrison JL, Murphy N, Nan H, Nassir R, Newcomb PA, Obón-Santacana M, Ogino S, Ose J, Pai RK, Palmer JR, Papadimitriou N, Pardamean B, Peoples AR, Pharoah PDP, Platz EA, Potter JD, Prentice RL, Rennert G, Ruiz-Narvaez E, Sakoda LC, Scacheri PC, Schmit SL, Schoen RE, Slattery ML, Stern MC, Tangen CM, Thibodeau SN, Thomas DC, Tian Y, Tsilidis KK, Ulrich CM, van Duijnhoven FJB, Van Guelpen B, Visvanathan K, Vodicka P, White E, Wolk A, Woods MO, Wu AH, Zemlianskaia N, Chang-Claude J, Gauderman WJ, Hsu L, Kundaje A, Peters U. Beyond GWAS of Colorectal Cancer: Evidence of Interaction with Alcohol Consumption and Putative Causal Variant for the 10q24.2 Region. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2022 May 04; 31(5):1077-1089. PMID: 35438744.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/28/2022

    Bigham Z, Robles Y, Freund KM, Palmer JR, Bertrand KA. Hypertensive diseases of pregnancy and risk of breast cancer in the Black Women's Health Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2022 Jul; 194(1):127-135. PMID: 35478297.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/8/2022

    Díaz-Zabala H, Guo X, Ping J, Wen W, Shu XO, Long J, Lipworth L, Li B, Fadden MK, Pal T, Blot WJ, Cai Q, Haiman CA, Palmer JR, Sanderson M, Zheng W. Evaluating breast cancer predisposition genes in women of African ancestry. Genet Med. 2022 Jul; 24(7):1468-1475. PMID: 35396981.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/24/2022

    Gathirua-Mwangi WG, Palmer JR, Champion V, Castro-Webb N, Stokes AC, Adams-Campbell L, Marley AR, Forman MR, Rosenberg L, Bertrand KA. Maximum and Time-Dependent Body Mass Index and Breast Cancer Incidence Among Postmenopausal Women in the Black Women's Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2022 Mar 24; 191(4):646-654. PMID: 35020804.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/5/2022

    Palmer JR, Cozier YC, Rosenberg L. Research on health disparities: Strategies and findings from the Black Women's Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2022 Feb 05. PMID: 35136921.

    Read at: PubMed

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