Julie R. Palmer, Sc.D.
Slone Epidemiology Center
Professor of Epidemiology
Boston University School of Public Health
B.A., Brown University
M.P.H., Boston University
Sc.D., Harvard University
Dr. Palmer’s major research interest is the etiology of breast cancer, with a particular focus on African American women. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the Black Women’s Health Study, a cohort study of 59,000 women, and has served as co-investigator of the study since its inception in 1995. Dr. Palmer is director of genetics research in the Black Women’s Health Study and has spearheaded efforts to use DNA from study participants in studies of the genetics of breast cancer, other cancers, lupus, uterine fibroids, type 2 diabetes, and sarcoidosis.
A major goal of Dr. Palmer’s research program is reduction of breast cancer mortality in young African American women by identification of modifiable factors that influence development of hormone receptor negative breast cancer. To that end, Dr. Palmer is one of the three multiple PIs who organized a collaborative NCI Program Project (AMBER), which combines data, germline DNA, and tumor tissue samples from four epidemiologic studies of breast cancer in African American women for identification of factors related to specific breast cancer subtypes. Dr. Palmer’s research provided convincing evidence that breastfeeding reduces risk of hormone receptor negative breast cancer and that, in the absence of breastfeeding, higher parity is associated with an increased risk of receptor negative disease. She is now assessing the possible interaction of those factors with genetic variants in pathways related to hormone metabolism and inflammation.
Dr. Palmer has led work to develop an effective risk prediction tool for breast cancer in African American women that can be used by primary care providers to refer high-risk women for additional screening (e.g., testing for high-penetrance genetic variants, breast MRI, etc.). She tested existing breast cancer risk models in the Black Women’s Health Study cohort and then developed a new model that incorporates additional factors for better prediction. She is currently working on methods for subtype-specific risk models, while leading analyses to identify appropriate candidate factors for possible inclusion in the models. Her recent AMBER publication on family history of cancer in relation to breast cancer risk indicated that women who had a first degree relative with prostate cancer as well as a first degree relative with breast cancer had about three times the risk of breast cancer compared to women without first degree relatives with cancer, suggesting that family history of prostate cancer may be important for an effective risk prediction model.
- Bethea TN, Rosenberg L, Castro-Webb N, Lunetta KL, Sucheston-Campbell LE, Ruiz-Narváez EA, Charlot M, Park SY, Bandera EV, Troester MA, Ambrosone CB, Palmer JR. Family history of cancer in relation to breast cancer subtypes in African American women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2016;25(2):366-73. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-1068. PMCID: PMC4767636.
- Ruiz-Narváez EA, Haddad SA, Lunetta KL, Yao S, Bensen JT, Sucheston-Campbell LE, Hong CC, Haiman CA, Olshan AF, Ambrosone CB, Palmer JR. Gene-based analysis of the fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling pathway in relation to breast cancer in African American women: the AMBER consortium. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2016;155(2):355-63. doi: 10.1007/s10549-015-3672-0. PMCID: PMC4890604.
- Allott EH, Cohen SM, Geradts J, Sun X, Khoury T, Bshara W, Zirpoli GR, Miller CR, Hwang H, Thorne LB, O’Connor S, Tse CK, Bell MB, Hu Z, Li Y, Kirk EL, Bethea TN, Perou CM, Palmer JR, Ambrosone CB, Olshan AF, Troester MA. Performance of three-biomarker immunohistochemistry for intrinsic breast cancer subtyping in the AMBER consortium. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2016;25(3):470-8. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0874. PMCID: PMC4779705.
- Rosenberg L, Bethea TN, Viscidi E, Hong CC, Troester MA, Bandera EV, Haiman CA, Kolonel LN, Olshan AF, Ambrosone CB, Palmer JR. Postmenopausal female hormone use and estrogen-receptor positive and negative breast cancer in African-American women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2016;108(4):djv361. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv361. PMCID: PMC4857155.
- Haddad SA, Lunetta KL, Ruiz-Narváez EA, Bensen JT, Hong CC, Sucheston-Campbell LE, Yao S, Bandera EV, Rosenberg L, Haiman CA, Troester MA, Ambrosone CB, Palmer JR. Hormone-related pathways and risk of breast cancer subtypes in African American women. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2015;154(1):145-54. doi: 10.1007/s10549-015-3594-x. PMCID: PMC5082744.
- Ambrosone CB, Zirpoli G, Hong CC, Yao S, Troester MA, Bandera EV, Schedin P, Bethea TN, Borges V, Park SY, Chandra D, Rosenberg L, Kolonel LN, Olshan AF, Palmer JR. Important role of menarche in development of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in African American women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2015;107(9):djv172. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv172. PMCID: PMC4836800.
- Bethea TN, Rosenberg L, Hong CC, Troester MA, Lunetta KL, Bandera EV, Schedin P, Kolonel LN, Olshan AF, Ambrosone CB, Palmer JR. A case-control analysis of oral contraceptive use and breast cancer subtypes in the African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk Consortium. Breast Cancer Res 2015;17(22):1-13. doi: 10.1186/s13058-015-0535-x. PMCID: PMC4358874.
- Bandera EV, Chandran U, Hong CC, Troester MA, Bethea TN, Adams-Campbell LL, Haiman CA, Park SY, Olshan AF, Ambrosone CB, Palmer JR, Rosenberg L. Obesity, body fat distribution, and risk of breast cancer subtypes in African American women participating in the AMBER Consortium. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2015;150(3):655-66. doi: 10.1007/s10549-015-3353-z. PMCID: PMC4440799.
- Boggs DA, Rosenberg L, Adams-Campbell LL, Palmer JR. A prospective approach to breast cancer risk prediction in African American women: the Black Women’s Health Study model. J Clin Oncol 2015;33(9):1038-44. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.2750. PMCID: PMC4356712.
- Palmer JR, Ambrosone CB, Olshan AF. A collaborative study of the etiology of breast cancer subtypes in African American women: the AMBER Consortium. Cancer Causes Control 2014;25(3):309-19. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0332-8. PMCID: PMC3945713.
- Palmer JR, Viscidi E, Troester MA, Hong C, Schedin P, Bethea TN, Bandera EV, McKinnon C, Haiman CA, Lunetta K, Kolonel LN, Rosenberg L, Olshan AF, Ambrosone CB. Parity, lactation, and breast cancer subtypes in African American women: results from the AMBER Consortium. J Natl Cancer Inst 2014;106(10):dju237. doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju237. PMCID: PMC4271113.
- Warner ET, Tamimi RM, Boggs DA, Rosner B, Rosenberg L, Colditz GA, Palmer JR. Estrogen receptor positive tumors: do reproductive factors explain differences in incidence between black and white women? Cancer Causes Control 2013;24(4):731-9. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0153-9. PMCID: PMC3602276.
- Boggs DA, Rosenberg L, Pencina MJ, Adams-Campbell LL, Palmer JR. Validation of a breast cancer risk prediction model developed for African American women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2013;105(5):361-7. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt008. PMCID: PMC3691941.
- Faupel-Badger JM, Arcaro KF, Balkam JJ, Eliassen AH, Hassiotou F, Lebrilla CB, Michels KB, Palmer JR, Schedin P, Stuebe AM, Watson CJ, Sherman ME. Postpartum remodeling, lactation, and breast cancer risk: summary of a National Cancer Institute–sponsored workshop. J Natl Cancer Inst 2013;105(3):166-74. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs505.
- Palmer JR, Ruiz-Narváez EA, Rotimi CN, Cupples LA, Cozier YC, Adams-Campbell LL, Rosenberg L. Genetic susceptibility loci for subtypes of breast cancer in an African American population. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2013;22(1):127-34. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0769. PMCID: PMC3538887.
- Palmer JR, Boggs DA, Wise LA, Ambrosone CB, Adams-Campbell LL, Rosenberg L. Parity and lactation in relation to estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in African American women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011;20(9):1883-91. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-11-0465. PMCID: PMC3179178.