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Vol. LXV, No. 4
February 15, 2013

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Gail To Give Gordon Lecture, Feb. 27

Photo of Dr. Mitchell H. Gail
Dr. Mitchell H. Gail, senior investigator in NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, will give the 2013 Robert S. Gordon, Jr., Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 3 to 4 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. His topic will be “Using Risk Models for Breast Cancer Prevention.”

Epidemiologic studies have established several risk factors for breast cancer, such as family history, age at first live birth, biopsy findings and mammographic density. These factors can be combined with information on breast cancer incidence rates to construct models of absolute risk of breast cancer, which is the chance that a woman with certain risk factors will develop breast cancer over a defined age interval.

Absolute risk is useful for counseling women and in public health applications. In counseling, absolute risk estimates provide realistic perspective and thereby inform decisions such as whether or not to begin screening mammography. Absolute risk estimates are also useful in a formal weighing of risks and benefits to decide whether to take a preventive intervention, such as chemoprevention.

Some applications of risk models in public health include: designing chemoprevention trials; implementing “high risk” prevention strategies that focus only on women at highest risk; assessing the potential of a preventive intervention to reduce absolute breast cancer risk in the population; and using risk estimates to allocate prevention resources under cost constraints.

Gail will review the usefulness of risk models in these applications and the potential of additional risk factors, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, to improve performance.

Gail received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968 and a Ph.D. in statistics from George Washington University in 1977. He joined NCI in 1969, and served as chief of the Biostatistics Branch from 1994 to 2008.

He is a fellow and former president of the American Statistical Association, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gail has received the Spiegelman Gold Medal for Health Statistics, the Howard Temin Award for AIDS Research and the Nathan Mantel Lifetime Achievement Award. Recently, he became chair-elect of the AAAS section on statistics.

Registration is not required; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. To watch the seminar online, visit Both the seminar and the videocast are free and open to the public.

Sign language interpreters can be provided. Individuals who need reasonable accommodation to participate should contact Jacqueline Roberts,, (301) 594-6747 or the Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

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