Program in Molecular Pathologic Epidemiology

The Program in MPE Molecular Pathological Epidemiology is a section within the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital.  The Mission of the Program in MPE is to facilitate transformation of pathology into integrative pathobiology-based information-driven science, and enhancement of rigorous pathology research and practice in the era of precision medicine.  Our ultimate goal is to advance pathology and science by means of seamless transdisciplinary integration in research and education. 

What Is "Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE)"?

Molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE) is a distinct integrative trans-interdisciplinary field that unifies molecular pathology and epidemiology.1,2  MPE is a growing subspecialty area of both pathology and epidemiology.  MPE research aims (1) to conduct integrative analyses of not only biospecimens (or patients) but also exogenous factors including (but not limited to) environmental, lifestyle, dietary, and microbial variations, and (2) to examine disease processes at the molecular, cellular, tissue, individual, and population levels. 

How Is MPE Useful in Pathology?

MPE is useful in pathology in a number of ways.  A comprehensive analysis of endogenous and exogenous factors is essential for a better understanding of disease etiologies and pathogenesis.  In addition, MPE can contribute to enhancement of rigor in pathology research and practice.  Epidemiology is a core method-based discipline in public health, population, and biomedical sciences.  In essence, whenever pathologists or other scientists design a study and examine data, the principles of epidemiology are always used (implicitly or explicitly).  However, in general, the epidemiologic principles are not systematically taught in clinical training programs including pathology residency programs.  There has been a concern on irreproducibility of published data.3,4  This chaos appears to be at least in part due to lack of adequate training in epidemiology and statistics, and this problem can be further exacerbated in the era of omics and big data analyses.5  In this situation, molecular pathological epidemiologists can offer education programs to teach epidemiologic and statistical principles as well as methods of analyzing pathology data.6  Therefore, MPE can help enhance pathology practice and research. 

Roles and Activities of the Program in MPE

The Program in MPE plays multiple roles.  It focuses on following three major areas (which are overlapping with each other): transdisciplinary education, transdisciplinary research, and outreach to neighboring institutions.  The Program in MPE is a central trans-multidisciplinary hub where researchers and trainees of not only the Department but also other institutions [such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), Harvard Medical School (HMS), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard] can interact, design collaborative projects, and educate each other.  In addition, the Program in MPE brings together associate members with expertise in pathology, epidemiology, statistics, and/or informatics, to develop a general educational program in the Department, and advance integrative molecular pathology - population science.  Hence, the Program in MPE can function as a resource for faculty and trainee members in the Department who need assistance in study design and data analysis. 

The International Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE) Meeting Series

As one of its major activities, the Program in MPE works with Dana-Faber Cancer Institute and Dana-Faber Harvard Cancer Center, to facilitate and host, the International Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE) Meeting Series.7, 8  The International MPE Meeting Series started in 2013, and its Fourth Meeting will be held in Boston on May 31 to June 1, 2018 (  This unique interdisciplinary meeting series gathers experts in diverse disciplines such as pathology, epidemiology, statistics, bioinformatics, and computational pathology/biology, to address current challenges and brainstorm for future opportunities.  

Chief: Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD


  1. Ogino S, Chan AT, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci E. Molecular pathological epidemiology of colorectal neoplasia: an emerging transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary field. Gut 2011;60:397-411.
  2. Ogino S, Nishihara R, VanderWeele TJ, et al. The role of molecular pathological epidemiology in the study of neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases in the era of precision medicine. Epidemiology 2016;27:602-11.
  3. Ioannidis JP. Why most published research findings are false. PLoS Med 2005;2:e124.
  4. Reality check on reproducibility. Nature 2016;533:437.
  5. Ogino S, Nishihara R. All biomedical and health science researchers, including laboratory physicians and scientists, need adequate education and training in study design and statistics. Clin Chem 2016;62:1039-40.
  6. Ogino S, King EE, Beck AH, Sherman ME, Milner DA, Giovannucci E. Interdisciplinary education to integrate pathology and epidemiology: towards molecular and population-level health science. Am J Epidemiol 2012;176:659-67.
  7. Ogino S, Campbell PT, Nishihara R, et al. Proceedings of The Second International Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE) Meeting. Cancer Causes Control 2015;26:959-72.
  8. Campbell PT, Rebbeck TR, Nishihara R, et al. Proceedings of the Third International Molecular Pathological Epidemiology (MPE) Meeting. Cancer Causes Cont 2017;28:167-176.


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