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Miller School’s Dr. Jennifer Hu Named Director of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Population Health Sciences

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Jennifer Hu, Ph.D., M.S., a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, has been named director of its Division of Epidemiology and Population Health Sciences. 

“Dr. Hu has been a Miller School professor for the past 14 years with an extensive molecular epidemiology research portfolio,” said David J. Lee, Ph.D., professor and interim chair in the Department of Public Health Sciences. “She has also been active in the teaching and mentoring of our graduate students and is particularly well-suited to lead the division.”

“As part of the biomedical revolution with the emergence of genomics, precision intervention, and health information technologies and other research advances, our division and department have unique opportunities in the fields of minority health and health disparities research to align our research programs and academic activities to the University,” said Dr. Hu, who also holds secondary appointments in the Miller School’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and in the Department of Human Genetics and Genomics. “My vision statement for the division includes, but not limited to, enhancing opportunities for early- and mid-stage investigators, coordinating and expanding division research and activities, capitalizing research opportunities in minority health and health disparities, expanding research career training programs and cultivating the next-generation research workforce, translating and disseminating research information to the communities, and enhancing resources to support investigator-initiated research and fostering innovative collaborations and partnerships.”

Dr. Hu has training in basic sciences and cancer epidemiology, with two Master of Science degrees in Biology and Biostatistics and Epidemiology from The University of Louisiana at Monroe and Georgetown University Medical School and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Since 1992, Dr. Hu’s research program has been funded with peer-reviewed grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and the Florida Department of Health Biomedical Research Programs.

Dr. Hu’s research focuses are on the molecular and genetic mechanisms of breast cancer risk and survival disparities, as well as the implication of DNA damage and repair in tumor mutation burden and precision medicine. Her broad scientific expertise includes basic laboratory research in DNA damage/repair, molecular and genetic epidemiology, genomic prediction models of survival, precision medicine, and cancer health disparities.

The pioneering research from Dr. Hu’s laboratory and collaborative effort has had significant impact on the cancer research field. They include:

  • Deficient DNA repair and elevated DNA damage in human breast cancer risk
  • Racial/ethnic-specific polygenic models of DNA repair in breast cancer risk and TP53 somatic mutations
  • Functional implication of DNA repair genotypes in human cancer risk and targeted therapies
  • Gene-diet interactions in triple-negative breast cancer risk
  • Multiple genetic susceptibility loci contribute to breast cancer and ER-negative and triple-negative breast cancer
  • Racial/ethnic disparities in radiotherapy-induced skin toxicities and pain in breast cancer

With Dr. Hu’s diverse research background and a strong commitment to training and education, she has successfully mentored a number of young scientists with outstanding career development. She has served on more than 50 NIH, NCI, and DOD study sections, is a regular member of the NCI subcommittee F for training grants from 2013 to 2017, and is the chair of the DOD prostate cancer research study section. More importantly, her recent experience in serving as the chair of two NCI P01 program project grant study sections contributed to a broader view of different research fields, also enhanced the reputation and recognition of the division, department, and the University of Miami.

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on December 17, 2020