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photo of Heather Ochs-Balcom

Heather M. Ochs-Balcom. Ph.D.

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Assistant Professor

Specialty/Research Focus

Genetic Epidemiology of breast cancer; Body composition phenotypes; Adiposity and colon cancer; Cancer health disparities; Barrets esophagus and esophageal cancer; Determinants of pulmonary function


Dr. Ochs-Balcom is a genetic epidemiologist with a research focus on genetics of complex traits, primarily obesity and breast cancer.  She joined the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in 2007 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Case Western Reserve University in the Division of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology under Dr. Robert Elston. She was appointed as an assistant professor in 2009. She is currently working on a study of genetic factors for breast cancer in African American families, participating as an investigator in the Women’s Health Initiative SHARe project, and studying the association of both inherited and tumor genetic copy number variation and breast cancer risk. She is broadly interested in applying the most up-to-date tools that allow for investigation of how genetics contributes to disease risk.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Society of Human Genetics
  • American Society of Preventive Oncology
  • American Thoracic Society
  • International Genetic Epidemiology Society
  • Society for Epidemiologic Research