Julie R. Palmer, Sc.D.

Slone Epidemiology Center

Karin Grunebaum Professor
Department of Medicine
Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology
Boston University School of Medicine



B.A., Brown University
M.P.H., Boston University
Sc.D., Harvard University

Research Interests:

Dr. Palmer is a cancer epidemiologist based at the Slone Epidemiology Center, with research projects spanning cancer early detection, etiology, and survivorship. Her primary focus is on elucidating reasons for the disproportionately high incidence of hormone receptor negative breast cancer in African American women and on understanding and reducing racial disparities in breast cancer mortality. She is a founding leader of the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), a prospective cohort study of 59,000 African American women who enrolled in 1995 and have been followed by biennial questionnaire since that time. Her breast cancer research within the BWHS includes work on risk prediction models for breast cancer in African American women, identifying differences in childbearing patterns as a contributing cause to the excess incidence of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in African American women, and investigating the interrelationships of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and inflammation on breast cancer risk. To have greater statistical power for determining genetic and non-genetic factors related to specific molecular subtypes of breast cancer, she and colleagues formed the AMBER Consortium, which includes more than 5,000 African American women with breast cancer and a large number of controls. Dr. Palmer also has an interest in pancreatic cancer, which disproportionately affects African Americans. Currently, she is examining the relation of the oral microbiome to risk of pancreatic cancer in African Americans. Selected leadership activities include 1) Associate Director for Population Sciences, BU-BMC Cancer Center, 2) Chair of the NIH Cancer, Cardiovascular, and Sleep Epidemiology Study Section, 2015-2017, 3) Steering Committee of NCI Cohort Consortium currently and 2004-2011, and 4) Steering Committee of the Molecular Epidemiology Group of AACR, 2018-2020.