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. She became an Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences in the Duke University Medical Center in May of 2017, and currently serves as Co-Leader of the Cancer Risk, Detection, and Interception research program of the Duke Cancer Institute.  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 is focused on the prevention of infection-associated cancers, and has specifically 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 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.

She has been PI of four grants from the NIH focusing on a greater understanding of the diversity of Helicobacter pylori and host response to infection and the association with gastrointestinal cancers. Through this work she has established the importance of the understanding of H. pylori as a heterogeneous exposure, identifying bacteria-specific blood biomarkers of increased cancer risk, and finding that these biomarkers interact with other potentially modifiable factors such as diet and aspirin use, in their association with the development of gastric cancer. She has also found significant differences in H. pylori prevalence and antibody response by self-reported race within the US, and have begun local initiatives to understand the prevalence of H. pylori in the community and clinic and to move towards eradication trials for high-risk individuals.

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

In, Haejin, Srawani Sarkar, Jessica Ward, Patricia Friedmann, Michael Parides, Julie Yang, and Meira Epplein. “Serum Pepsinogen as a Biomarker for Gastric Cancer in the United States: A Nested Case-Control Study using the PLCO Cancer Screening Trial Data.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, May 9, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-1328.

PMID
35534235
Full Text

Murphy, John D., Andrew F. Olshan, Feng-Chang Lin, Melissa A. Troester, Hazel B. Nichols, Julia Butt, You-Lin Qiao, et al. “A Predictive Model of Noncardia Gastric Adenocarcinoma Risk Using Antibody Response to Helicobacter pylori Proteins and Pepsinogen.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 31, no. 4 (April 1, 2022): 811–20. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-21-0869.

PMID
35131882
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Butt, Julia, Matti Lehtinen, Hanna Öhman, Tim Waterboer, and Meira Epplein. “Association of Helicobacter pylori and Autoimmune Gastritis With Stomach Cancer in a Cohort of Young Finnish Women.” Gastroenterology, March 15, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2022.03.012.

PMID
35301012
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Huang, Robert J., Meira Epplein, Chisato Hamashima, Il Ju Choi, Eunjung Lee, Dennis Deapen, Yanghee Woo, et al. “An Approach to the Primary and Secondary Prevention of Gastric Cancer in the United States.” Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, October 6, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2021.09.039.

PMID
34624563
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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 Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 30, no. 6 (June 2021): 1279–82. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-1471.

PMID
33737297
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In, Haejin, Patricia Friedmann, Srawani Sarkar, Bruce Rapkin, Philip E. Castle, and Meira Epplein. “Risk factors for gastric cancers in the United States: Variation by anatomic site and race/ethnicity.” In Journal of Clinical Oncology, 39:189–189. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 2021. https://doi.org/10.1200/jco.2021.39.3_suppl.189.

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
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Aquilina, Sydney R., Martha J. Shrubsole, Julia Butt, Maureen Sanderson, David G. Schlundt, Mekeila C. Cook, and Meira Epplein. “Adverse childhood experiences and adult diet quality.” J Nutr Sci 10 (2021): e95. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2021.85.

PMID
34804516
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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

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