A primary interest of Dr. Schernhammer relates to the influence of the circadian system on chronic disease and longevity in humans. She studies shift work as a surrogate for exposure to light at night including related biomarkers for cancer risk. To translate findings from these studies to cancer prevention strategies she conducted a controlled trial of melatonin supplementation in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In addition to cancer, she examines the effect of circadian misalignment (e.g., variations in circadian and melatonin metabolism genes, melatonin secretion, shift work history, effect modification by chronotype, as well as sleep duration, insomnia, and other sleep parameters) in relation to cardiovascular disease pathways (e.g., markers of inflammation, glucose and lipid metabolism and thrombosis) and associated endpoints. Another research focus has been to study pathways of energy balance including IGFs with respect to breast cancer risk. Further, she is interested in the etiology and prevention of gastrointestinal tumors, including how epigenetic events impact colorectal cancer risk, and how methyl donors interact with these events. In addition, she studies risk factors of Parkinson’s disease and has helped establish the worldwide largest population-based case-control study to examine GxE in PD.
Techniques, methods & infrastructure
Statistical modelling and study design