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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 and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health. She is a co-leader of the Population Science Program, University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center.

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.

In a recent prospective analysis from the Columbia, Missouri Serum Bank, Dr. Dorgan and NCI colleagues found that women with more extensive 2-hydroxylation of estrogens are at a reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. In another recent study, they found that anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), a serum marker of ovarian function, is strongly positively related to breast cancer risk. The ovarian surface epithelium and uterus are Müllerian-derived tissues, and Dr. Dorgan currently is leading an international collaboration to prospectively evaluate associations of AMH with ovarian and endometrial cancer risk. She also is beginning to identify metabolomic profiles associated with ovarian cancer risk.

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 (DISC) 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.

Although the DISC intervention was not associated with young adult percent breast density, in secondary analyses from this study Dr. Dorgan and colleagues found that premenarche serum adrenal androgens were positively associated with breast density in young adulthood. In contrast, adiposity in youth was inversely associated with breast density as a consequence of heavier girls having less dense breast fibroglandular tissue. 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 diet with breast density in young adulthood.


Kerver JM, Gardiner JC, Dorgan JF, Rosen CJ, Velie EM. Dietary predictors of the insulin-like growth factor system in adolescent girls: results from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC). Am J Clin Nutr, 2010; 91:643-50; PMC2824156.

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; PMC2863123.

Ruder EH, Hartman TJ, Rovine MJ, Dorgan JF. Birth characteristics and age at menarche: results from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC). Cancer Causes Control, 2010; 21:1379-86; PMC3119472.

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; PMC2883023.

Gaudet MM, Falk RT, Gierach GL, Lacey JV, Jr, Graubard BI, Dorgan JF, Brinton LA. Do adipokines underlie the association between known risk factors and breast cancer among a cohort of U.S. women?  Cancer Epidemiol, 2010; 34:580-6; PMC2949443.

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; PMC3046441.

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; PMC3113521.

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; PMC3232612.

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; PMC3163405.

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; PMC3188939.

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; PMC3251938.

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; PMC3680938.

Eliassen AH, Hendrickson SJ, Brinton LA, Buring JE, Campos H, Dai Q, Dorgan JF, Franke AA, Gao YT, Goodman MT, Hallmans G, Helzlsouer KJ, Hoffman-Bolton J, Hulten K, Sesso HD, Sowell AL, Tamimi RM, Toniolo P, Wilkens LR, Winkvist A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Hankinson SE. Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: pooled analysis of 8 prospective studies. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2012; 104:1-12, PMC3525817.

Fang CY, Egleston BL, Pettee Gabriel K, Stevens VJ, Kwiterovich PO Jr., Snetselaar LG, Longacre ML, Dorgan JF. Depressive symptoms and serum lipid levels in young adult women. J Behav Med, 2012; 36:143-52 PMC3376669.

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; PMC3897238.

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 PMC4053199.

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; PMC4056766.

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; doi/10.1007/s10552-013-0273-2 PMC3960004.

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, 2014; 42:444-56 PMC4046251.

Schock H, Lundin E, Vääräsmäki M, Grankvist K, Fry A, Dorgan JF, Pukkala E, Lehtinen M, Surcel HM, Lukanova A. Anti-Mullerian hormone and risk of invasive serous ovarian cancer. Cancer Causes Control, 2014; 25:583-9.

Nan H, Dorgan JF, Rebbeck TR. Genetic variants in anti-Mullerian hormone and anti-Mullerian hormone receptor genes and breast cancer risk in Caucasians and African Americans. Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet 2014; 5:145-51 PMC4214262.

Jung S, Stanczyk FZ, Egleston BL, Snetselaar LG, Stevens VJ, Shepherd JA, Van Horn L, LeBlanc ES, Paris K, Dorgan JF. Endogenous sex hormones and breast density in young women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2014; 24:369-78 PMC4323882.

Hodge MG, Hovinga ME, Shepherd JA, Egleston BL, Gabriel KP, Van Horn L, Robson AM, Snetselaar LG, Stevens VJ, Jung S, Dorgan JF. Youth and young adult physical activity and body composition of young adult women: Findings from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children. Pediatr Exerc Sci, 2015; 27:140-50.

Jones JA, Hartman TJ, Klifa C, Coffman DL, Mitchell DC, Vernarelli JA, Snetselaar L, Van Horn L, Stevens VJ, Robson A, Himes J, Shepherd J, Dorgan JF. Dietary energy density is positively associated with breast density in young women. J Acad NutrDiet, 2015; 115:353-9 PMC4344841.

Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group. Steroid hormone measurements from different types of assays in relation to body mass index and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of eighteen prospective studies. Steroids, 2015; 99:49-55.

Jung S, Egleston BL, Chandler DW, Van Horn L, Hylton NM, Klifa CC, Lasser NL, LeBlanc ES, Paris K, Shepherd JA, Snetselaar LG, Stanczyk FZ, Stevens VJ, Dorgan JF. Adolescent Endogenous sex hormones and breast density in early adulthood. Br Cancer Res 2015; 17:7 PMC4468804

Bertrand KA, Baer HJ, Orav EJ, Klifa C, Shepherd JA, Van Horn L, Snetselaar L, Stevens VJ, Hylton NM, Dorgan JF. Body fatness during childhood and adolescence and breast density in young women: a prospective analysis. Breast Cancer Res 2015; 17:95 PMC4502611.