Meira Epplein, PhD

Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences
Associate Professor in Medicine
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Campus mail 2424 Erwin Road, Suite 602, Durham, NC 27705
Phone (919) 668-0766
Email address meira.epplein@duke.edu

Meira Epplein is a cancer epidemiologist interested in modifiable risk factors in under-served populations, with a focus on the association of infection and cancer.  She became Co-Leader of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at Duke Cancer Institute and Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences in the Duke University Medical Center in May of 2017.  Previously, she was a tenured faculty member at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, after two years as a post-doctoral fellow with the Multiethnic Cohort Study at the University of Hawaii.  Prior to earning her PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington, she completed an MA in international studies, and spent five years as a program officer for the Asian research think tank, the National Bureau of Asian Research.

Dr. Epplein’s research program has centered around the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, a spiral, gram-negative bacterium that infects approximately 50% of the world’s population, and is the leading carcinogenic infectious agent according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Her research seeks to understand the heterogeneity of H. pylori, to determine the most toxigenic forms of the bacteria so to identify the highest risk populations which can then be targeted for antibiotic therapy, which has been shown to be effective for risk reduction. At the same time, she is committed to furthering our understanding of the co-factors involved in both H. pylori-associated disease risk and benefit, as the bacteria has inhabited the stomachs of humans for over 100,000 years, and so very likely also confers certain biological advantages to its hosts.

As Principal Investigator, she has obtained three large NIH-funded grants to further explore the epidemiology of H. pylori heterogeneity: a 5-year career development award (K07) from NCI that focuses on infection, inflammation, and cancer; a 5-year R01 from NCI to develop an H. pylori blood biomarker for gastric cancer risk in East Asia; and a 4-year R01, again funded by NCI, to further investigate, in a large consortium of prospective cohorts across the United States, the novel preliminary finding of H. pylori protein-specific antibodies and the risk of colorectal cancer. She also serves as a Co-Investigator and lead gastric cancer and H. pylori researcher for the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS). In addition to serving as a standing member of the study section NCI Subcommittee J (Career Development Awards), she is an editorial board member of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and is co-chair of the 2017 American Society of Preventive Oncology Annual Meeting Program Committee. 

Area of expertise: Epidemiology

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of Washington, 2007
  • M.S., University of Washington, 2005
  • M.A., University of Washington, 1997

Publications

Lo, Chun-Han, William J. Blot, Lauren R. Teras, Kala Visvanathan, Loïc Le Marchand, Christopher A. Haiman, Yu Chen, et al. “Prediagnostic Antibody Responses to Fusobacterium nucleatum Proteins Are Not Associated with Risk of Colorectal Cancer in a Large U.S. Consortium.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention : A Publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 30, no. 6 (June 2021): 1279–82. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.epi-20-1471.

PMID
33737297
Full Text

Varga, Matthew G., Cecily R. Wood, Julia Butt, Mackenzie E. Ryan, Wei-Cheng You, Kaifeng Pan, Tim Waterboer, Meira Epplein, and Carrie L. Shaffer. “Immunostimulatory membrane proteins potentiate H. pylori-induced carcinogenesis by enabling CagA translocation.” Gut Microbes 13, no. 1 (January 2021): 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2020.1862613.

PMID
33382363
Full Text

Butt, Julia, William J. Blot, Kala Visvanathan, Loïc Le Marchand, Lynne R. Wilkens, Yu Chen, Howard D. Sesso, et al. “Auto-antibodies to p53 and the Subsequent Development of Colorectal Cancer in a U.S. Prospective Cohort Consortium.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 29, no. 12 (December 2020): 2729–34. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0780.

PMID
32972968
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Epplein, Meira, Loïc Le Marchand, Timothy L. Cover, Mingyang Song, William J. Blot, Richard M. Peek, Lauren R. Teras, et al. “Association of Combined Sero-Positivity to Helicobacter pylori and Streptococcus gallolyticus with Risk of Colorectal Cancer.” Microorganisms 8, no. 11 (October 30, 2020). https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms8111698.

PMID
33143263
Full Text

Reichstein, Jonathan, Alice Parish, Stephanie Garbarino, Julius Wilder, Meira Epplein, Deborah A. Fisher, Donna Niedzwiecki, Andrew J. Muir, and David A. Leiman. “Variations and Racial Disparities in Helicobacter pylori Guideline Adherence for Eradication Testing.” In American Journal of Gastroenterology, 115:S670–71, 2020.

Scholars@Duke

Reichstein, Jonathan, Alice Parish, Stephanie Garbarino, Julius Wilder, Meira Epplein, Deborah A. Fisher, Donna Niedzwiecki, Andrew J. Muir, and David A. Leiman. “Antibiotic Resistance Rates in Helicobacter pylori Infection Derived from Retrospective Cure Rates.” In American Journal of Gastroenterology, 115:S670–S670, 2020.

Scholars@Duke

Varga, Matthew G., Julia Butt, William J. Blot, Loïc Le Marchand, Christopher A. Haiman, Yu Chen, Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, et al. “Racial Differences in Helicobacter pylori CagA Sero-prevalence in a Consortium of Adult Cohorts in the United States.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 29, no. 10 (October 2020): 2084–92. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0525.

PMID
32856604
Full Text

Huang, Robert J., Howard Koh, Joo Ha Hwang, and Joo Ha Summit Leaders. “A Summary of the 2020 Gastric Cancer Summit at Stanford University.” Gastroenterology 159, no. 4 (October 2020): 1221–26. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.05.100.

PMID
32707045
Full Text

Crankshaw, Sydnee, Julia Butt, Jennifer M. Gierisch, Nadine J. Barrett, Sabrena Mervin-Blake, Kevin Oeffinger, Steven Patierno, Valarie Worthy, Ronald Godbee, and Meira Epplein. “The Durham Initiative for Stomach Health (DISH): a pilot community-based Helicobacter pylori education and screening study.” Bmc Gastroenterol 20, no. 1 (August 6, 2020): 261. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12876-020-01405-w.

PMID
32762641
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Jang, Jieun, Tianyi Wang, Hui Cai, Fei Ye, Gwen Murphy, Taichi Shimazu, Philip R. Taylor, et al. “The U-shaped association between body mass index and gastric cancer risk in the Helicobacter pylori Biomarker Cohort Consortium: A nested case-control study from eight East Asian cohort studies.” Int J Cancer 147, no. 3 (August 1, 2020): 777–84. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.32790.

PMID
31745972
Full Text

Pages