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Wong-Ho Chow, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Principal Investigator, Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment, Mexican-American Cohort, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Associate Member, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Variations in cancer incidence rates over time usually are related to the changing prevalence of risk factors in the population. The study of cancers that exhibit rapid increases in incidence or disparate occurrences in population subgroups is particularly important to spot clues to etiology and preventive strategies. A great deal of my research has focused on renal cell carcinoma and esophageal adenocarcinoma, cancers rising rapidly worldwide. More recently, my research has turned to breast cancer, which displays racial/ethnic disparities in incidence and survival. Research opportunities are sought particularly where a broad range of exposures can be evaluated to enhance assessment of risk. I prefer broad collaborations with clinicians and laboratory scientists and often lead multi-disciplinary research teams employing state-of-the-art laboratory technology in studying environmental and host factors that underlie the diverse incidence and outcome patterns of these cancers.   

Major Accomplishments

  • Author/co-author of 320+ peer-reviewed articles
  • NCI PI of the Occupational and Environmental component of a multi-center, collaborative, prospective cohort study of 75,000 women in Shanghai, China (the Shanghai Women's health Study)
  • NCI PI of a multi-center, case-control study of esophageal adenocarcinoma in tahe U.S. and led several manuscripts with seminal findings
  • Initiated and cofound the international Barrett's Esophagus and Adenocarcinoma Consortium (BEACON) to provide a forum for scientific exchange and to promote collaboration and sharing of resources
  • PI of a multi-center case-control study of renal cell carcinoma in Caucasian and African Americans in the U.S. and found that hypertension can explain 66% of the excess renal cancer risk in African American men and all of the excess in African American women
  • PI of three NIH grant proposals submitted since joining MD Anderson Cancer Center
    • Oral microbiome and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes
    • Racial/ethnic disparities in breast cancer: can metabolic profiles play a role?
    • HERV-K retroviral activation and subsequent risk of breast cancer


Research Interests


  • Determinants of disparities in cancer incidence, survival, and mortality
  • Environmental exposures (such as lifestyle, diet, infection, medication use, etc.) and gene-environment interactions in determining cancer risk 
  • Epidemiologic study design integrating advanced exposure assessment methodology and multi-disciplinary team approach

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1155 Pressler
Unit 1340
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-792-1860
Fax: 713-745-1165

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1983 University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA, PHD, Epidemiology
1976 Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, MPH, Epidemiology
1974 New York State University - Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, BS, Cum Laude, Nutrition


Academic Appointments

Senior Investigator, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, 1998-2012
Investigator, Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, 1996-1998
Senior Epidemiologist, International Epidemiology Institute, Rockville, MD, 1995-1996
Senior Staff Fellow, Biostatistics Branch, Division of Cancer Etiology, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, 1991-1995
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, 1985-1988
Research Instructor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, 1984-1985

Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Epidemiologist, Westat, Inc., Rockville, MD, 1989-1991

Institutional Committee Activities

Member, Strategic Planning Subcommittee: Translational Research re: Prevention and Population Science, 2015

Honors and Awards

2008 Merit Award (Group), NIH
2004 Mentor of Merit Award, NCI
2003 Plain Language Award, NIH
2000 Intramural Research Award, DCEG
1999 NIH Merit Award

Professional Memberships

American Association for Cancer Research
Member, 2000-present
American Epidemiological Society
Member, 2000-2014

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Sun W, Wen CP, Lin J, Wen C, Pu X, Huang M, Tsai MK, Tsao CK, Wu X, Chow WH. ABO blood types and cancer risk-A cohort study of 339,432 subjects in Taiwan. Cancer Epidemiol 39(2):150-6, 4/2015. e-Pub 1/2015. PMID: 25600007.
2. Purdue MP, Moore LE, Merino MJ, Boffetta P, Colt JS, Schwartz KL, Bencko V, Davis FG, Graubard BI, Janout V, Ruterbusch JJ, Beebe-Dimmer J, Cote ML, Shuch B, Mates D, Hofmann JN, Foretova L, Rothman N, Szeszenia-Dabrowska N, Matveev V, Wacholder S, Zaridze D, Linehan WM, Brennan P, Chow WH. An investigation of risk factors for renal cell carcinoma by histologic subtype in two case-control studies. Int J Cancer. e-Pub 11/2012. PMID: 23150424.
3. Beebe-Dimmer JL, Colt JS, Ruterbusch JJ, Keele GR, Purdue MP, Wacholder S, Graubard BI, Davis F, Chow WH, Schwartz KL. Body mass index and renal cell cancer: the influence of race and sex. Epidemiology 23(6):821-8, 11/2012. PMCID: PMC3466395.
4. Hoyo C, Cook MB, Kamangar F, Freedman ND, Whiteman DC, Bernstein L, Brown LM, Risch HA, Ye W, Sharp L, Wu AH, Ward MH, Casson AG, Murray LJ, Corley DA, Nyrén O, Pandeya N, Vaughan TL, Chow WH, Gammon MD. Body mass index in relation to oesophageal and oesophagogastric junction adenocarcinomas: a pooled analysis from the International BEACON Consortium. Int J Epidemiol. e-Pub 11/2012. PMID: 23148106.
5. Chow WH, Shuch BM, Linehan WM, Devesa SS. Racial disparity in renal cell carcinoma patient survival according to demographic and clinical characteristics. Cancer. e-Pub 11/2012.
6. Liao LM, Weinstein SJ, Pollak M, Li Z, Virtamo J, Albanes D, Chow WH, Purdue MP. Pre-diagnostic Circulating Adipokine Concentrations and Risk of Renal Cell Carcinoma. Carcinogenesis. e-Pub 10/2012. PMID: 23042303.
7. Jacobs KB, Yeager M, Zhou W, Wacholder S, Wang Z, Rodriguez-Santiago B, Hutchinson A, Deng X, Liu C, Horner MJ, Cullen M, Epstein CG, Burdett L, Dean MC, Chatterjee N, Sampson J, Chung CC, Kovaks J, Gapstur SM, Stevens VL, Teras LT, Gaudet MM, Albanes D, Weinstein SJ, Virtamo J, Taylor PR, Freedman ND, Abnet CC, Goldstein AM, Hu N, Yu K, Yuan JM, Liao L, Ding T, Qiao YL, Gao YT, Koh WP, Xiang YB, Tang ZZ, Fan JH, Aldrich MC, Amos C, Blot WJ, Bock CH, Gillanders EM, Harris CC, Haiman CA, Henderson BE, Kolonel LN, Le Marchand L, McNeill LH, Rybicki BA, Schwartz AG, Signorello LB, Spitz MR, Wiencke JK, Wrensch M, Wu X, Zanetti KA, Ziegler RG, Figueroa JD, Garcia-Closas M, Malats N, Marenne G, Prokunina-Olsson L, Baris D, Schwenn M, Johnson A, Landi MT, Goldin L, Consonni D, Bertazzi PA, Rotunno M, Rajaraman P, Andersson U, Beane Freeman LE, Berg CD, Buring JE, Butler MA, Carreon T, Feychting M, Ahlbom A, Gaziano JM, Giles GG, Hallmans G, Hankinson SE, Hartge P, Henriksson R, Inskip PD, Johansen C, Landgren A, McKean-Cowdin R, Michaud DS, Melin BS, Peters U, Ruder AM, Sesso HD, Severi G, Shu XO, Visvanathan K, White E, Wolk A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Silverman DT, Kogevinas M, Gonzalez JR, Villa O, Li D, Duell EJ, Risch HA, Olson SH, Kooperberg C, Wolpin BM, Jiao L, Hassan M, Wheeler W, Arslan AA, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Fuchs CS, Gallinger S, Gross MD, Holly EA, Klein AP, LaCroix A, Mandelson MT, Petersen G, Boutron-Ruault MC, Bracci PM, Canzian F, Chang K, Cotterchio M, Giovannucci EL, Goggins M, Hoffman Bolton JA, Jenab M, Khaw KT, Krogh V, Kurtz RC, McWilliams RR, Mendelsohn JB, Rabe KG, Riboli E, Tjønneland A, Tobias GS, Trichopoulos D, Elena JW, Yu H, Amundadottir L, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Kraft P, Schumacher F, Stram D, Savage SA, Mirabello L, Andrulis IL, Wunder JS, Patiño García A, Sierrasesúmaga L, Barkauskas DA, Gorlick RG, Purdue M, Chow WH, Moore LE, Schwartz KL, Davis FG, Hsing AW, Berndt SI, Black A, Wentzensen N, Brinton LA, Lissowska J, Peplonska. Detectable clonal mosaicism and its relationship to aging and cancer. Nat Genet 44(6):651-8, 6/2012. e-Pub 5/2012. PMCID: PMC3372921.
8. Cote ML, Colt JS, Schwartz KL, Wacholder S, Ruterbusch JJ, Davis F, Purdue M, Graubard BI, Chow WH. Cigarette smoking and renal cell carcinoma risk among black and white Americans: effect modification by hypertension and obesity. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 21(5):770-9, 5/2012. e-Pub 3/2012. PMCID: PMC3348421.
9. Luo J, Gao YT, Chow WH, Shu XO, Li H, Yang G, Cai Q, Li G, Rothman N, Cai H, Shrubsole MJ, Franke AA, Zheng W, Dai Q. Urinary polyphenols, glutathione S-transferases copy number variation, and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai women's health study. Mol Carcinog 51(5):379-88, 5/2012. e-Pub 5/2011. PMCID: PMC3257420.
10. Gao Y, Baccarelli A, Shu XO, Ji BT, Yu K, Tarantini L, Yang G, Li HL, Hou L, Rothman N, Zheng W, Gao YT, Chow WH. Blood leukocyte Alu and LINE-1 methylation and gastric cancer risk in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. Br J Cancer 106(3):585-91, 1/2012. e-Pub 12/2011. PMCID: PMC3273339.
11. Purdue MP, Hofmann JN, Colt JS, Hoxha M, Ruterbusch JJ, Davis FG, Rothman N, Wacholder S, Schwartz KL, Baccarelli A, Chow WH. A case-control study of peripheral blood mitochondrial DNA copy number and risk of renal cell carcinoma. PLoS One 7(8):e43149, 2012. e-Pub 8/2012. PMCID: PMC3427307.
12. Heck JE, Moore LE, Lee YC, McKay JD, Hung RJ, Karami S, Gaborieau V, Szeszenia-Dabrowska N, Zaridze DG, Mukeriya A, Mates D, Foretova L, Janout V, Kollárová H, Bencko V, Rothman N, Brennan P, Chow WH, Boffetta P. Xenobiotic metabolizing gene variants and renal cell cancer: a multicenter study. Front Oncol 2:16, 2012. e-Pub 2/2012. PMCID: PMC3355831.
13. Colt JS, Schwartz K, Graubard BI, Davis F, Ruterbusch J, DiGaetano R, Purdue M, Rothman N, Wacholder S, Chow WH. Hypertension and risk of renal cell carcinoma among white and black Americans. Epidemiology 22(6):797-804, 11/2011. PMCID: PMC3188386.
14. Wong HL, Rabkin CS, Shu XO, Pfeiffer RM, Cai Q, Ji BT, Yang G, Li HL, Rothman N, Gao YT, Zheng W, Chow WH. Systemic cytokine levels and subsequent risk of gastric cancer in Chinese Women. Cancer Sci 102(10):1911-5, 10/2011. e-Pub 8/2011. PMCID: PMC3349461.
15. Liao LM, Baccarelli A, Shu XO, Gao YT, Ji BT, Yang G, Li HL, Hoxha M, Dioni L, Rothman N, Zheng W, Chow WH. Mitochondrial DNA copy number and risk of gastric cancer: a report from the Shanghai Women's Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 20(9):1944-9, 9/2011. e-Pub 7/2011. PMCID: PMC3169741.
16. Cook MB, Kamangar F, Whiteman DC, Freedman ND, Gammon MD, Bernstein L, Brown LM, Risch HA, Ye W, Sharp L, Pandeya N, Webb PM, Wu AH, Ward MH, Giffen C, Casson AG, Abnet CC, Murray LJ, Corley DA, Nyrén O, Vaughan TL, Chow WH. Cigarette smoking and adenocarcinomas of the esophagus and esophagogastric junction: a pooled analysis from the international BEACON consortium. J Natl Cancer Inst 102(17):1344-53, 9/2010. e-Pub 8/2010. PMCID: PMC2935475.
17. Chow WH, Dong LM, Devesa SS. Epidemiology and risk factors for kidney cancer. Nat Rev Urol 7(5):245-57, 5/2010. PMCID: PMC3012455.
18. Pronk A, Ji BT, Shu XO, Xue S, Yang G, Li HL, Rothman N, Gao YT, Zheng W, Chow WH. Night-shift work and breast cancer risk in a cohort of Chinese women. Am J Epidemiol 171(9):953-9, 5/2010. e-Pub 4/2010. PMCID: PMC2877476.
19. Dai Q, Gao YT, Shu XO, Yang G, Milne G, Cai Q, Wen W, Rothman N, Cai H, Li H, Xiang Y, Chow WH, Zheng W. Oxidative stress, obesity, and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Women's Health Study. J Clin Oncol 27(15):2482-8, 5/2009. e-Pub 4/2009. PMCID: PMC2684853.
20. Adams KF, Leitzmann MF, Albanes D, Kipnis V, Moore SC, Schatzkin A, Chow WH. Body size and renal cell cancer incidence in a large US cohort study. Am J Epidemiol 168(3):268-77, 8/2008. e-Pub 6/2008. PMCID: PMC2727262.
21. Brown LM, Devesa SS, Chow WH. Incidence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus among white Americans by sex, stage, and age. J Natl Cancer Inst 100(16):1184-7, 8/2008. e-Pub 8/2008. PMCID: PMC2518165.
22. Moore SC, Chow WH, Schatzkin A, Adams KF, Park Y, Ballard-Barbash R, Hollenbeck A, Leitzmann MF. Physical activity during adulthood and adolescence in relation to renal cell cancer. Am J Epidemiol 168(2):149-57, 7/2008. e-Pub 5/2008. PMCID: PMC2878095.
23. Zhang FF, Hou L, Terry MB, Lissowska J, Morabia A, Chen J, Yeager M, Zatonski W, Chanock S, Chow WH. Genetic polymorphisms in alcohol metabolism, alcohol intake and the risk of stomach cancer in Warsaw, Poland. Int J Cancer 121(9):2060-4, 11/2007. PMID: 17631643.
24. Hou L, El-Omar EM, Chen J, Grillo P, Rabkin CS, Baccarelli A, Yeager M, Chanock SJ, Zatonski W, Sobin LH, Lissowska J, Fraumeni JF, Chow WH. Polymorphisms in Th1-type cell-mediated response genes and risk of gastric cancer. Carcinogenesis 28(1):118-23, 1/2007. e-Pub 8/2006. PMID: 16885196.
25. Zheng W, Chow WH, Yang G, Jin F, Rothman N, Blair A, Li HL, Wen W, Ji BT, Li Q, Shu XO, Gao YT. The Shanghai Women's Health Study: rationale, study design, and baseline characteristics. Am J Epidemiol 162(11):1123-31, 12/2005. e-Pub 10/2005. PMID: 16236996.
26. Engel LS, Chow WH, Vaughan TL, Gammon MD, Risch HA, Stanford JL, Schoenberg JB, Mayne ST, Dubrow R, Rotterdam H, West AB, Blaser M, Blot WJ, Gail MH, Fraumeni JF. Population attributable risks of esophageal and gastric cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst 95(18):1404-13, 9/2003. PMID: 13130116.
27. El-Omar EM, Rabkin CS, Gammon MD, Vaughan TL, Risch HA, Schoenberg JB, Stanford JL, Mayne ST, Goedert J, Blot WJ, Fraumeni JF, Chow WH. Increased risk of noncardia gastric cancer associated with proinflammatory cytokine gene polymorphisms. Gastroenterology 124(5):1193-201, 5/2003. PMID: 12730860.
28. Chow WH, Gridley G, Fraumeni JF, Järvholm B. Obesity, hypertension, and the risk of kidney cancer in men. N Engl J Med 343(18):1305-11, 11/2000. PMID: 11058675.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: HERV-K retroviral activation and subsequent risk of breast cancer
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 12/1/2014 - 11/30/2018
Title: Racial/ethnic disparity in breast cancer: can metabolic profiles play a role?
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 7/1/2013 - 6/30/2018

Last updated: 10/2/2015