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Joanne F. Dorgan

Joanne F. Dorgan Ph.D., M.P.H.

Academic Title: Professor
Primary Appointment: Epidemiology & Public Health
Location: HH 102E

Personal History:

Dr. Dorgan is an epidemiologist with particular expertise in molecular and nutritional epidemiology. She has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, a M.P.H. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health, and a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University. She did her post-doctoral training in Cancer Prevention and Control at the National Cancer Institute.

After completing her M.P.H. in Nutrition, Dr. Dorgan worked on national nutrition policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She subsequently earned her Ph.D. in Epidemiology, and since that time has conducted epidemiologic research at the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama, Maryland Medical Research Institute, the National Cancer Institute, and Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Dr. Dorgan currently is a tenured Professor in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine. She is an adjunct scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an adjunct faculty appointment at Drexel University.

Research Interests:

Dr. Dorgan’s research focuses primarily on identifying hormonal determinants of cancer, particularly breast cancer, and hormonal mechanisms by which environmental and behavioral exposures, as well as genetics, affect cancer risk. While at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) she was the Principal Investigator of the Columbia, MO Serum Bank, which is a long-standing prospective cohort study of women. Since leaving NCI, Dr. Dorgan continues to actively participate in research based on this cohort to identify hormonal, environmental and nutritional influences on cancer risk. Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS) is a serum marker of ovarian function that Dr. Dorgan recently found to be strongly positively related to breast cancer risk. Genetics is a major determinant of circulating MIS levels, and currently Dr. Dorgan and colleagues are evaluating associations of genes that encode MIS and its receptors with breast cancer in a large case-control study. Considerable data from animal models and in vitro studies also support a role for MIS in ovarian and endometrial cancers, and Dr. Dorgan also currently is prospectively evaluating associations of MIS with these reproductive cancers in 9 cohorts from around the world.

Dr. Dorgan also conducts research on early life exposures and adult chronic disease risk. In a recently completed follow-up of female participants of the Dietary Intervention Study in Children to evaluate the longer-term effects of a diet intervention to lower fat intake during childhood and adolescence on biomarkers associated with breast cancer risk, the intervention group had lower fasting plasma glucose, lower blood pressure and lower large very-low-density lipoprotein particles, an early marker of insulin resistance, compared to the usual care control group. Interestingly, insulin-related biomarkers did not differ by treatment group during childhood and adolescence, and Dr. Dorgan and her colleagues speculate that the emergence of these differences as the cohort ages could be due to epigenetic changes in response to dietary differences during youth that become apparent with age-related adverse changes in metabolic parameters. Dr. Dorgan and colleagues are continuing to conduct analyses and anticipate that many novel findings will come from this unique resource. In ongoing studies they are evaluating associations of adolescent adiposity and serum hormones with breast density in young adulthood.


  1. Dorgan JF, Klifa C, Deshmukh S, Egleston BL, Shepherd JA, Kwiterovich PO Jr, Van Horn L, Snetselaar LG, Stevens VJ, Robson AM, Lasser NL, Hylton NM. Menstrual and reproductive characteristics and breast density in young women. Cancer Causes Control, 2013 in press.
  2. Fang CY, Egleston BL, Manzur AM, Townsend RR, Stanczyk FZ, Spiegel D, Dorgan JF. Psychological reactivity to laboratory stress is associated with hormonal responses in postmenopausal women. J Int Med Res, 2013 in press.
  3. Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group. Sex hormones and risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women: a collaborative reanalysis of individual participant data from seven prospective studies. Lancet Oncol, 2013;
  4. Pettee Gabriel K, Klifa C, Perez A, Kriska A, High R, Snetselaar L, Dorgan JF. Adolescent and young adult exposure to physical activity and breast density. Med Sci Sports Exercise, 2013; 45:1515-23.
  5. Falk RT, Brinton LA, Dorgan JF, Fuhrman BJ, Veenstra TD, Xu X, Gierach GL. Relationship of serum estrogens and estrogen metabolites to postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a nested case-control study. Breast Cancer Res, 2013; 15:R34.
  6. Dorgan JF, Klifa C, Shepherd JA, Egleston BL, Kwiterovich PO Jr, Himes JH, Pettee Gabriel K, Van Horn L, Snetselaar LG, Stevens VJ, Barton BA, Robson AM, Lasser NL, Deshmukh S, Hylton NM.  Height, adiposity and body fat distribution and breast density in young women. Breast Cancer Res, 2012; 14:R107.
  7. Eliassen AH, Hendrickson S, Brinton L, Buring J, Campos H, Dai Q, Dorgan JF, Franke A, Gao YT, Goodman M, Hallmans G, Helzlsouer K, Bolton JH, Hulten K, Sesso H, Sowell A, Tamimi R, Toniolo P, Wilkens L, Winkvist A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Hankinson S. Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: pooled analysis of 8 prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2012; 104:1-12.
  8. Shaw CM, Stanczyk FZ, Egleston BL, Kahle LL, Spittle CS, Godwin AK, Brinton LA, Dorgan JF. Serum anti-Mullerian hormone in healthy premenopausal women. Fertil Steril, 2011; 95:2718-21.
  9. Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group. Circulating sex hormones and breast cancer risk factors in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of thirteen studies. Br J Cancer, 2011; doi:10:1038/bjc.2011.254, 1-14.
  10. Hartman TJ, Mahabir S, Baer DJ, Stevens RG, Albert PS, Dorgan JF, Kesner JS, Meadows JW, Shields R, Taylor PR.  Moderate alcohol consumption and 24-hour urinary levels of melatonin in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endo Metab, 2011; 97:E65-9.
  11. Ruder EH, Hartman TJ, Rovine MJ, Dorgan JF. Birth characteristics and female sex hormone concentrations during adolescence: results from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC). Cancer Causes Control, 2011; 22:611-21.
  12. Dorgan JF, Liu L, Barton BA, Deshmukh S, Snetselaar LG, Van Horn L, Stevens VJ, Robson AM, Lasser NL, Himes JH, Shepherd JA, Pourfarzib R, Pettee Gabriel K, Kriska A, Kwiterovich PO Jr. Adolescent diet and metabolic syndrome in young women: results of the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC) Follow-Up Study. J Clin Endo Metab, 2011; 96:E1999-2008.
  13. Egleston BL, Chandler DW, Dorgan JF.  Validity of estimating non-SHBG bound testosterone and estradiol from total hormone measurements in boys and girls. Ann Clin Biochem, 2010; 47:233-41.
  14. Dorgan JF, Liu L, Klifa C, Hylton N, Shepherd JA, Stanczyk FZ, Snetselaar LG, Van Horn L, Stevens VJ, Robson A, Kwiterovich PO, Lasser NL, Himes JH, Pettee Gabriel K, Kriska A, Ruder EH, Fang CY, Barton, BA. Adolescent diet and subsequent serum hormones, breast density and bone mineral density in young women: Results of the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC) Follow-Up Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2010; 19:1545-56.
  15. Dorgan JF, Stanczyk FZ, Kahle LL, Brinton LA. Prospective case-control study of premenopausal serum estradiol and testosterone levels and breast cancer risk. Breast Cancer Res, 2010; 12:R98.
  16. McSorley MA, Alberg AJ, Allen DS, Allen NE, Brinton LA, Dorgan JF,  Kaaks R, Rinaldi S,  Helzlsouer KJ.  Pre-diagnostic circulating follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations and ovarian cancer risk.  Int J Cancer, 2009; 125:674-9.
  17. Dorgan JF, Spittle CS, Egleston BL, Shaw CM, Kahle LL, Brinton LA. Assay reproducibility and within-person variation of Mullerian inhibiting substance.  Fertil Steril, 2009; 94:301-4.
  18. Dorgan JF, Stanczyk FZ, Egleston BL, Kahle LL, Shaw CM, Spittle CS, Godwin AK, Brinton LA. Serum Müllerian inhibiting substance and breast cancer risk.  J Natl Cancer Inst, 2009; 101:1501-9.
  19. Endogenous Hormones and Prostate Cancer Collaborative Group.  Endogenous sex hormones and prostate cancer: a collaborative analysis of 18 prospective studies.  J Natl Cancer Inst, 2008; 100:170-83.
  20. McSorley MA, Alberg AJ, Allen DS, Allen NE, Brinton LA, Dorgan JF, Pollack M, Tao Y, Helzlsouer KJ.  C-reactive protein concentrations and subsequent ovarian cancer risk: A Multicenter Cohort Study.  Obstetrics Gynecology, 2007; 109: 933-41.