Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD

Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and Associate Director for Global Health
Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Global Health Topic(s): Cancer, Epidemiology, Nutrition

Countries: China, Vietnam

Research Interests: Cancer epidemiological research in LMICs

Publications Link

Dr. Shu is an Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and the Associate Director of Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Over Dr. Shu's research career, she has established several invaluable epidemiology research resources, including two population-based cohort studies: the Shanghai Men's Health Study, a cohort of 61,480 men with an 89% biospecimen procurement rate, and the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study (SBCSS), a cohort of 5042 breast cancer survivors. She has also led several large-scale case-control studies. She played an instrumental role in launching and managing a population-based cohort study of 75,000 women, the Shanghai Women's Health Study, for which she has led the biological sample collection and has been in charge of data management and statistical analysis. She is also a founding member and leader of several major consortiums, including the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project (ABCPP, N≈18,000), the Asian Genetic Epidemiology Network for Obesity-Related Traits (AGEN-Obesity, N≈13,500,000), and the Calcium and Lung Cancer Pooling Project (N≈2,000,000). Together, these resources have supported approximately 80 institution-based or consortium-based studies, and generated more than 300 publications. Using the unique resources of her China-based cohort studies, Dr. Shu and her colleagues have conducted a series of studies evaluating the influence of soyfood consumption on a wide range of human diseases, including the risk and prognosis for breast and lung cancer, and the risk of colorectal cancer, cardiovascular diseases, bone fracture, and diabetes. Her seminal research on soyfood intake after cancer diagnosis led to a modification of the American Cancer Society and American Institute for Cancer Research's soyfood consumption recommendations for breast cancer survivors. With data from the SBCSS and the ABCPP, Dr. Shu and her research team comprehensively evaluated the impact of lifestyle, nutrition, dietary intake, tumor markers, genetic susceptibility, and social support on breast cancer outcomes, discovering that tea consumption and exercise participation lower the risk of depression among breast cancer survivors, that social support during cancer treatment improves breast cancer outcomes, and that smoking increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality. Her findings also identified genetic susceptibility and tumor markers for breast cancer outcomes, results that point to promising areas of potential intervention. Applying a genome-wide association study approach, she and her colleagues have identified multiple novel genetic markers for breast, colorectal and other cancers, as well as for diabetes and body mass index. They discovered inflammation-related and oxidative stress-related biomarkers that can potentially be used to identify individuals at high risk for developing colorectal cancer, and also built the first breast cancer risk prediction model for Chinese women that incorporated both genetic susceptibility markers and traditional risk factors. Dr. Shu has authored or co-authored approximately 700 research papers in peer-reviewed life science journals.


M.D., M.P.H., Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University
Ph.D., Columbia University