Principal Investigator

Yin Cao, MPH, ScD
Assistant Professor
Division of Public Health Sciences
Department of Surgery
Division of Gastroenterology
Department of Medicine
Washington University in St Louis



ScD in Epidemiology, Harvard University (2013)
MPH in Epidemiology, Columbia University (2009)
BS in Economics, Peking University (2007)
BS in Biology, Tsinghua University (2007)

Research Interest

Dr. Cao is a cancer epidemiologist with extensive training and research experience in epidemiologic study design and molecular/nutritional/clinical epidemiology. Her early work focused on risk prediction, screening, and chemoprevention of gastrointestinal malignancies. Since she joined Washington University in 2017, she built a multi-disciplinary team that focuses on systems and translational cancer epidemiology. Current projects in the Cao lab incorporate high-throughput technologies (genomics, proteomics, microbiome, accelerometers) into large-scale collaborative epidemiology/clinical studies to address provocative questions in cancer prevention, including but not limited to

    • Etiology and early detection of early-onset cancers
    • Biological basis for cancer disparity
    • Role of microbiome and host immunity in carcinogenesis

These work leverage data collected from deep-characterized population-based studies and genetic consortium, clinical cohorts from Washington University, and pharmacy and inpatient/outpatient claims. The lab collaborates extensively with leading investigators in clinical medicine (e.g. gastroenterology, oncology, pathology, surgery), computational biology, genetics, and decision modeling. Dr. Cao and her team have published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts in leading medical journals. More details at

Lab Members

Current Members

Xiaoyu Zong, MPH (Statistical Data Analyst)

Jie Liu, MD, MPH (DBBS PhD Candidate)

Hanyu Chen, MD, PhD candidate (Colorectal Surgery)

Jingwen Liao, PhD (Kinesiology)

Jinhee Hur, PhD (Epidemiology, based at Harvard University)

Cassandra Fritz, MD (Fellow in Gastroenterology)

Ebunoluwa (Ebun) Otegbeye, MD (Resident in General Surgery)


Zitong Li, MD (Thoracic Surgery)

Ai Zhang, MS candidate (Biostatistics)

Yong Zou, PhD (Immunology)

Chao Cao, MPH (PhD Candidate in Movement Science , WUSM)

Alexandra Kanemaru, MPH (Consultant, Sellers Dorsey)

Xiaobin Zheng, MD, PhD (Fellow in Colorectal Surgery)

Cong Wang, MPH (PhD Candidate in Epidemiology, VUMC)

Gaoyu Wu, MS (PhD Candidate in Mathematics, UCSD)

Xiao Li, MS (Statistical Data Analyst at Department of Psychiatry, WUSM)