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Invited commentary: driving for further evolution.

  • Author(s): Hiatt, Robert A
  • et al.

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The concept of translational cancer epidemiology has evolved since its early beginnings in 1937 with the establishment of the National Cancer Institute. Conceptual models of cancer control research have also evolved over the last 30 years, to the point where we now have 4 stages of translational research (T0-T4). The current review by Lam et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2015;181(7):451-458) covers cancer epidemiology research supported by the National Cancer Institute and a selected sample of the cancer epidemiology literature. It suggests that most cancer epidemiology in the last 10 years has been in pure discovery research. Current "drivers" of cancer epidemiology research, including new technologies, team science multilevel research, and knowledge integration, are not strongly represented in the review. However, the use of epidemiology in the latter stages of translation may not have been captured by the scope of this review. The closer epidemiologists get to advanced stages of translation, the more likely they are to work with investigators in other disciplines in other sectors of society. An argument can be made that regardless of whether this kind of research is not happening or was just missed by the current review, the field of cancer epidemiology can expand its scope and further evolve towards more effective applications in population health.

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