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Melinda Aldrich, PhD, MPH


Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor, Department of Thoracic Surgery
Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine
Investigator – Vanderbilt Center for Human Genetics Research
Download CV | Biography - Section of Surgical Sciences


Dr. Aldrich’s research is focused on identifying genetic and environmental risk factors for lung cancer and its related phenotypes, such as nicotine addiction and pulmonary disease, in racially diverse populations. Specifically, much of her research is centered on understanding how genetic differences in racial/ethnic background can influence risk of disease.

African Americans have the highest lung cancer incidence and mortality compared to all other racial/ethnic groups. We are collaborating with the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS) investigators to conduct comprehensive epidemiologic research to understand genetic and environmental factors influencing disease in racially mixed populations. We are identifying risk factors predicting disease susceptibility and survival among low income African American and white adults participating in the SCCS. Dr. Aldrich is collaborating with leading scientists in the large African American Lung Cancer Consortium to leverage the genetic diversity of African Americans to perform admixture mapping for lung cancer to identify genetic risk factors influencing disease.

We are also collaborating with bioinformatics experts to leverage Vanderbilt’s BioVU, a DNA databank with over 122,000 adults linked to electronic medical records. We are investigators factors improving cancer survival. Dr. Aldrich is also collaborating with colleagues to conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of pulmonary function in African Americans to identify common genetic variants contributing to pulmonary function.

Dr. Aldrich serves on the Epidemiology Graduate Program and is a Member of the Vanderbilt Center for Human Genetics Research and a Member of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. She mentors graduate students and medical students.



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