Channing Prostate Cancer Disease Risk and Biomarkers Research

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men.

While age, race, family history, and genetic variation impact risk, few other epidemiologic risk factors are known. Prostate cancer has a heterogeneous prognosis—many men have an indolent disease course, while others have aggressive disease that progresses to metastases and death. Clinicians and researchers still lack definitive means to distinguish potentially lethal from indolent disease at the time of diagnosis.

Current Research

Investigators at the Channing Division of Network Medicine (CDNM) have built a comprehensive research strategy to:

  • Identify risk factors for aggressive prostate cancer disease
  • Discover molecular biomarkers to differentiate lethal from indolent prostate cancer disease

Study populations

Study populations developed by CDNM researchers to investigate prostate cancer and other prostate health outcomes include:

  • Health Professionals Follow-up Study (based at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
  • Physicians’ Health Study (based at the Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital)


CDNM researchers have contributed DNA and clinical information to the PRACTICAL consortium. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data from this consortium have contributed to numerous studies, including a recent publication that identified additional prostate cancer genetic risk variants.

We are also interested in exploring the association of genetic risk variants with molecular subtypes and other tumor characteristics.

Tissue-based studies

CDNM investigators have generated gene expression data from prostate tumor and normal adjacent prostate tissue using an Affymetrix array. These data have been used to examine the association of tissue expression with several other types of data and outcomes, including Gleason grade, a measure of prostate tumor differentiation.