Julie Palmer

Director, Slone Epidemiology Center; Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health; School of Medicine

Dr. Palmer’s major research interest is the etiology of breast cancer in African American women. She was instrumental in designing and implementing the Black Women’s Health Study 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, lupus, uterine fibroids, and sarcoidosis.

Dr. Palmer’s current research is directed at understanding the etiology of specific subtypes of breast cancer, in particular, estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, the subtype that carries the worst prognosis and disproportionately affects women of African ancestry.  She is Multiple-PI of a collaborative Program Project which combines data and samples from four epidemiologic studies of breast cancer in African American women for identification of genetic and nongenetic factors related to specific breast cancer subtypes. Dr. Palmer’s work focuses on the relation of parity and lactation to risk of specific subtypes, and the interaction of these exposures with genetic variants in pathways related to hormone metabolism and inflammation

As PI of the Boston University arm of the NCI follow-up study of DES-exposed persons, Dr. Palmer has conducted research related to the possible effects of prenatal DES exposure on incidence of breast cancer.