Grantee: Timothy Rebbeck, Ph.D.

Timothy Rebbeck

Timothy Rebbeck, Ph.D.

Molecular Epidemiologist
BBPSB Grantee
Organization:
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Current Title
Vincent L. Gregory, Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Describe your scientific identity.
I am a molecular epidemiologist interested in translating my basic discoveries related to genetic susceptibility to cancer into practice-changing activities that will reduce the incidence and mortality from cancer among susceptible populations.

What are your research interests?
I study the role of genes and exposures on cancer risk and outcomes and use this information to develop optimal cancer prevention strategies. I focus this research around racial differences in risk and outcome to alleviate cancer disparities. This work involves large-scale epidemiological studies in Africa and among African-Americans, as well as high-risk individuals who have inherited a high-penetrance susceptibility mutation.

What is the significance of your current research project?
It is currently unclear how women understand and then use information about their cancer risk to make decisions about cancer prevention. We aim to refine breast and ovarian cancer risk estimates and then understand how women make medical decisions about lowering their risk when they have personalized risk information. This work is critical for understanding how to minimize cancer risk in genetically susceptible women, such as those who have inherited a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.

What motivated you to work in biobehavioral or psychological science research?
The explosion of genetic information into the lives of patients and populations requires that we find tools that will translate genomics to better patient experiences in decision-making, treatment, quality of life, and outcomes. To achieve this goal, we must nucleate interdisciplinary teams that include geneticists, population scientists, behavioral scientists, oncologists, and others to develop and implement comprehensive and impactful patient tools.

Describe something that had a profound influence on your program of research or scientific interests (an "ah-ha!" moment).
When we found that bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy in BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers could lower the chance of dying from cancer, it became clear that genetic testing was important once the information it provided became actionable. Genetic information without an actionable follow-on is of limited value otherwise.


The explosion of genetic information into the lives of patients and populations requires that we find tools that will translate genomics to better patient experiences in decision-making, treatment, quality of life, and outcomes. To achieve this goal, we must nucleate interdisciplinary teams that include geneticists, population scientists, behavioral scientists, oncologists, and others to develop and implement comprehensive and impactful patient tools.”



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