Heather Hammond Nelson, PhD, MPH

Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health

Heather Hammond Nelson

Contact Info


Office Phone 612-626-9887

Office Address:
554 Masonic Cancer Research Building

Mailing Address:
420 Delaware St SE
MMC 806 Mayo
Minneapolis, MN 55455

MPH, University of Minnesota School of Public Health

PhD, Cancer Biology, Harvard University

BA, Hamline University


My research program encompasses environmental exposures and genetic traits that increase cancer susceptibility and impact patient outcomes. Our current work is focused on understanding the role of inter-individual differences in immunity, as well as viral exposures, in cancer epidemiology. In addition, I am a co-leader of the Screening, Prevention, Etiology and Cancer Survivorship program in the Masonic Cancer Center.


Cancer, genetics, epigenetics, environment, immunity


Research Summary/Interests

  •  Genetic susceptibility to environmentally-induced cancers, including skin cancer, mesothelioma, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer and lung cancer
  • Inter-individual variation in immune function in cancer etiology and clinical outcome
  • Epigenetics in cancer etiology

Research Funding Grants

  • 2012–2017, Johns Hopkins University, "Enhancing ARIC Infrastructure to Yield a New Cancer Epidemiology Cohort," Co-Investigator
  • 2011–2017, NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI), "Molecular Epidemiology of Pediatric Germ Cell Tumors," Co-Investigator


See a full list of publications on PubMed

Selected Recent Publications

  • Vogel RI, Strayer LG, Engelman L, Nelson HH, Blaes AH, Anderson KE, Lazovich D. "Sun Exposure and Protection Behaviors among Long-term Melanoma Survivors and Population Controls," Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, March 2017
  • Yuan JM, Nelson HH, Carmella SG, Wang R, Kuriger-Laber J, Jin A, Adams-Haduch J, Hecht SS, Koh WP, Murphy SE. "CYP2A6 genetic polymorphisms and biomarkers of tobacco smoke constituents in relation to risk of lung cancer in the Singapore Chinese Health Study," Carcinogenesis, Feb 2017
  • Nelson HH, Pawlita M, Michaud DS, McClean M, Langevin SM, Eliot MN, Kelsey KT. "Immune Response to HPV16 E6 and E7 Proteins and Patient Outcomes in Head and Neck Cancer," JAMA Oncology, Dec 2016
  • Nelson HH, Kelsey KT. "Epigenetic epidemiology as a tool to understand the role of immunity in chronic disease," Epigenomics, Aug 2016




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