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

Butt, J, Varga, MG, Blot, WJ, Teras, L, Visvanathan, K, Le Marchand, L, Haiman, C, Chen, Y, Bao, Y, Sesso, HD, Wassertheil-Smoller, S, Ho, GYF, Tinker, LE, Peek, RM, Potter, JD, Cover, TL, Hendrix, LH, Huang, L-C, Hyslop, T, Um, C, Grodstein, F, Song, M, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, A, Berndt, S, Hildesheim, A, Waterboer, T, Pawlita, M, and Epplein, M. "Serological response to Helicobacter pylori proteins associate with risk of colorectal cancer among diverse populations in the United States." October 5, 2018.

PMID
30296434
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Varga, MG, Cai, H, Waterboer, T, Murphy, G, Shimazu, T, Taylor, PR, Qiao, Y-L, Park, SK, Yoo, K-Y, Jee, SH, Cho, ER, Kim, J, Abnet, CC, Tsugane, S, Cai, Q, Zheng, W, Pawlita, M, Shu, X-O, and Epplein, M. "Epstein-Barr Virus Antibody Titers Are Not Associated with Gastric Cancer Risk in East Asia." Digestive Diseases and Sciences 63, no. 10 (October 2018): 2765-2772.

PMID
29948559
Full Text

Butt, J, Blot, WJ, Teras, LR, Visvanathan, K, Le Marchand, L, Haiman, CA, Chen, Y, Bao, Y, Sesso, HD, Wassertheil-Smoller, S, Ho, GY, Tinker, LF, Peek, RM, Potter, JD, Cover, TL, Hendrix, LH, Huang, L-C, Waterboer, T, Pawlita, M, and Epplein, M. "Antibody Responses to Streptococcus Gallolyticus Subspecies Gallolyticus Proteins in a Large Prospective Colorectal Cancer Cohort Consortium." Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention : a Publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 27, no. 10 (October 2018): 1186-1194.

PMID
30038049
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Epplein, M, Butt, J, Zhang, Y, Hendrix, LH, Abnet, CC, Murphy, G, Zheng, W, Shu, X-O, Tsugane, S, Qiao, Y-L, Taylor, PR, Shimazu, T, Yoo, K-Y, Park, SK, Kim, J, Jee, SH, Waterboer, T, Pawlita, M, You, W-C, and Pan, K-F. "Validation of a blood biomarker for identification of individuals at high risk for gastric cancer." Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention : a Publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology (August 29, 2018).

PMID
30158280
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Varga, MG, Wang, T, Cai, H, Xiang, Y-B, Gao, Y-T, Ji, B-T, Pawlita, M, Waterboer, T, Zheng, W, Shu, X-O, and Epplein, M. "Helicobacter pylori Blood Biomarkers and Gastric Cancer Survival in China." Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 27, no. 3 (March 2018): 342-344.

PMID
29263184
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Wang, T, Cai, H, Zheng, W, Michel, A, Pawlita, M, Milne, G, Xiang, Y-B, Gao, Y-T, Li, H-L, Rothman, N, Lan, Q, Shu, X-O, and Epplein, M. "Abstract 2272: A prospective study of urinary prostaglandin E2 metabolite, Helicobacter pylori antibodies, and gastric cancer risk." July 1, 2017.

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Wang, T, Cai, H, Zheng, W, Michel, A, Pawlita, M, Milne, G, Xiang, Y-B, Gao, Y-T, Li, H-L, Rothman, N, Lan, Q, Shu, X-O, and Epplein, M. "A Prospective Study of Urinary Prostaglandin E2 Metabolite, Helicobacter pylori Antibodies, and Gastric Cancer Risk." Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 64, no. 10 (May 2017): 1380-1386.

PMID
28402440
Full Text

Wang, T, Cai, H, Sasazuki, S, Tsugane, S, Zheng, W, Cho, ER, Jee, SH, Michel, A, Pawlita, M, Xiang, Y-B, Gao, Y-T, Shu, X-O, You, W-C, and Epplein, M. "Fruit and vegetable consumption, Helicobacter pylori antibodies, and gastric cancer risk: A pooled analysis of prospective studies in China, Japan, and Korea." International Journal of Cancer 140, no. 3 (February 2017): 591-599.

PMID
27759938
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Butt, J, Pawlita, M, and Epplein, M. "Abstract LB-361: Serology of Streptococcus gallolyticus subsp. gallolyticus and risk of colorectal cancer." July 15, 2016.

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Wang, T, Cai, H, Sasazuki, S, Tsugane, S, Zheng, W, Cho, ER, Jee, SH, Michel, A, Pawlita, M, Xiang, Y-B, Gao, Y-T, Shu, X-O, You, W, and Epplein, M. "Abstract 1735: Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of gastric cancer: a prospective nested case-control study in China, Japan and Korea." July 15, 2016.

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