2012 Alumni Award of Merit

Patricia Hartge, SM '76, SD '83

As a leader in the epidemiology of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), ovarian cancer and a variety of other tumors, Dr. Patricia Hartge has conducted research to reveal the environmental, genetic and behavioral causes of these malignancies. Widely recognized for her innovative and rigorous methodology, Dr. Hartge now devotes her scientific and interpersonal skills to bringing together scientists from multiple disciplines and to combining multiple studies. This flourishing new “team-science” approach has yielded numerous discoveries in cancer epidemiology.

After earning an undergraduate degree from Radcliffe, and a graduate degree in economics from Yale, Dr. Hartge spent two years as a research associate at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston. It was then that Drs. Joseph Fraumeni, SM ’65 and Robert Hoover, SM ’70, SD ’76 hired Dr. Hartge to conduct epidemiologic research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where she developed a variety of methods widely used today in cancer epidemiology and in her landmark research, including the National Bladder Cancer Study, the Washington Ashkenazi Study and the NCI-SEER Study of Lymphoma.

Since 1996, Dr. Hartge has served as Deputy Director of the NCI’s Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program. She has worked closely with the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program and many other groups at NIH. Dr. Hartge’s editorials in major medical journals have been widely cited, and she has written definitive chapters in the classic textbooks of her field, such as Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Modern Epidemiology and Women and Health.

For more than a decade, Dr. Hartge has championed the creation of international, multi-institution consortia in cancer epidemiology, and in 2001 co-founded InterLymph, an open scientific forum that pools data across studies to examine a wider variety of risk factors. Together with investigators from Harvard and other research centers, Dr. Hartge replicated the scientific fruitfulness of InterLymph, helping to establish other international consortia, most notably the NCI Cohort Consortium, representing 43 cohorts involving over four million subjects. The Consortium has been successful in identifying genetic variants related to breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer, as well as those related to vitamin D that might impact cancer risk.

Dr. Hartge has also had an impact on epidemiology through mentoring, training and professional service activities across the NCI, and as course director and adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Sciences. She served as an editor for American Journal of Public Health, Epidemiology and American Journal of Epidemiology, and as a board member of the American Public Health Association and the American College of Epidemiology. In 2006 she received the Outstanding Epidemiologist Award from the Congress of Epidemiology.

Dr. Hartge has contributed to many aspects of epidemiologic research, including effective field methods, innovative study designs, important epidemiologic findings and groundbreaking international consortia, and has always made it her mission to take the time to train the next generation of scientists. She is widely viewed as a talented, generous, selfless scientist, who has played a critical role in the quality of the science and the scientists at the NCI.