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Rulla May Tamimi, S.D.

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Overview
My goal is to better understand breast cancer risk and prognosis by utilizing molecular markers in epidemiologic studies. Specifically, my research has focused on intermediate markers of breast cancer risk including mammographic density and benign breast diseases (BBD). Many of these studies are based within the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII).

Mammographic Density Studies
Mammographic density is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer, yet the mechanisms underlying this are not well elucidated. I have multiple grants to examine lifestyle, genetic, and molecular predictors of mammographic density. We demonstrated for the first time that circulating hormones and mammographic density were independent predictors of breast cancer risk, and that women with high levels of both were at a particularly high risk of subsequent breast cancer in the NHS. These data suggest that incorporating both hormones and mammographic density into risk prediction models may identify high risk women for targeted interventions.

Mammographic density is a highly heritable trait, more so than breast cancer. Given the high heritability of mammographic density, understanding the genetic predictors of breast density may help to identify novel genes and pathways related to breast density and breast cancer. To better identify genetic predictors of mammographic density, I lead the Markers of Density (MODE) consortium, an international consortium to pool genome-wide association studies of mammographic density.

I have also leveraged randomized control trials, to study the effects of specific interventions on change in breast density. We have an ancillary breast health study within the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) randomized control trial to evaluate the effect of newer low-dose hormone therapies on breast density. Similarly, we have just been funded to conduct an ancillary study within the VITamin D and omega-3 trial (VITAL), to study association between vitamin D supplementation on breast density and breast tissue molecular and morphologic features.

Additionally, I have initiated a multi-ethnic pilot study of mammographic density enrolling women coming in for routine screening mammograms at the Lee Bell Center for Breast Imaging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Benign Breast Disease Studies
Benign breast diseases are also thought of as general markers of breast cancer risk. Within the Nurses’ Health Studies my group has examined exposures associated with early proliferative changes in the breast, and how morphologic and molecular changes in benign breast tissue are related to subsequent risk of breast cancer. Recently, we found that early adolescent exposures influence later proliferative breast disease risk. Although it had been hypothesized that adolescence may be an important time period for breast cancer, these projects are critical for identifying the modifiable exposures that may influence long-term breast health. Most recently, we have identified molecular alterations in benign breast tissue that predict long-term risk of subsequent breast cancer. These projects have important public health implications for identifying early opportunities for cancer prevention.

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease. Characterization of breast tumors by hormone receptor status has been important in understanding the mechanisms by which certain breast cancer risk factors operate, but also for determining treatment and prognosis. I have worked closely with collaborating pathologists to create breast cancer tissue microarrays within the Nurses’ Health Study. This will allow us to examine how lifestyle factors, and genetic and plasma markers influence the molecular characteristics of the breast tumor. Better molecular classification of breast tumors may provide important clues as to the biology and underlying mechanisms of breast carcinogenesis. My long-term goals are to incorporate the full spectrum of resources including genetic variation, early life exposures, circulating markers, tissue markers and intermediate endpoints to fully develop and address hypotheses about breast cancer risk.

In addition to my research interests, I have enjoyed a number of local teaching and mentoring opportunities at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Medical School.

Research
The research activities and funding listed below are automatically derived from NIH ExPORTER and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing items. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
  1. R21CA187642 (BECK, ANDREW H) Apr 6, 2015 - Mar 31, 2017
    NIH/NCI
    Computational pathology to predict breast cancer risk in benign breast disease
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  2. UM1CA186107 (STAMPFER, MEIR) Jul 22, 2014 - Jun 30, 2024
    NIH/NCI
    Long Term Multidisciplinary Study of Cancer in Women: The Nurses Health Study
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  3. R01CA178263 (REXRODE, KATHRYN M) Jul 8, 2014 - May 31, 2019
    NIH/NCI
    The Effects of Vitamin D on Mammographic Density and Breast Tissue
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  4. R01CA175080 (TAMIMI, RULLA M) Sep 30, 2013 - Aug 31, 2017
    NIH/NCI
    Mammographic density and texture features in relation to breast cancer risk
    Role: Principal Investigator
  5. U19CA148065 (HUNTER, DAVID JOHN) Jul 15, 2010 - Jun 30, 2015
    NIH/NCI
    Discovery, Biology and Risk of Inherited Variants in Breast Cancer
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator

Bibliographic
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
  1. Sakaki JR, Li J, Melough MM, Ha K, Tamimi RM, Chavarro JE, Chen MH, Chun OK. Orange juice intake and anthropometric changes in children and adolescents. Public Health Nutr. 2020 Oct 07; 1-8. PMID: 33023713.
    Citations:    
  2. Kang JH, Peng C, Rhee JJ, Farvid MS, Willett WC, Hu FB, Rosner BA, Tamimi R, Eliassen AH. Prospective study of a diabetes risk reduction diet and the risk of breast cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Oct 06. PMID: 33022701.
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  3. Cook EE, Rosenberg SM, Ruddy KJ, Barry WT, Greaney M, Ligibel J, Sprunck-Harrild K, Holmes MD, Tamimi RM, Emmons KM, Partridge AH. Prospective evaluation of the impact of stress, anxiety, and depression on household income among young women with early breast cancer from the Young and Strong trial. BMC Public Health. 2020 Oct 06; 20(1):1514. PMID: 33023562.
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  4. Rosenberg SM, Dominici LS, Gelber S, Poorvu PD, Ruddy KJ, Wong JS, Tamimi RM, Schapira L, Come S, Peppercorn JM, Borges VF, Partridge AH. Association of Breast Cancer Surgery With Quality of Life and Psychosocial Well-being in Young Breast Cancer Survivors. JAMA Surg. 2020 Sep 16. PMID: 32936216.
    Citations:    
  5. Lu D, Song J, Lu Y, Fall K, Chen X, Fang F, Landén M, Hultman CM, Czene K, Sullivan P, Tamimi RM, Valdimarsdóttir UA. A shared genetic contribution to breast cancer and schizophrenia. Nat Commun. 2020 09 15; 11(1):4637. PMID: 32934226.
    Citations:    
  6. Kensler KH, Liu EZF, Wetstein SC, Onken AM, Luffman CI, Baker GM, Collins LC, Schnitt SJ, Bret-Mounet VC, Veta M, Pluim JPW, Liu Y, Colditz GA, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Tamimi RM, Heng YJ. Automated Quantitative Measures of Terminal Duct Lobular Unit Involution and Breast Cancer Risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2020 Sep 11. PMID: 32917665.
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  7. Ding M, Strohmaier S, Schernhammer E, Yuan C, Sun Q, Michels KB, Tamimi R, Chavarro JE. Grand-maternal lifestyle during pregnancy and body mass index in adolescence and young adulthood: an intergenerational cohort study. Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 02; 10(1):14432. PMID: 32879408.
    Citations:    
  8. Teras LR, Patel AV, Wang M, Yaun SS, Anderson K, Brathwaite R, Caan BJ, Chen Y, Connor AE, Eliassen AH, Gapstur SM, Gaudet MM, Genkinger JM, Giles GG, Lee IM, Milne RL, Robien K, Sawada N, Sesso HD, Stampfer MJ, Tamimi RM, Thomson CA, Tsugane S, Visvanathan K, Willett WC, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Smith-Warner SA. Sustained Weight Loss and Risk of Breast Cancer in Women 50 Years and Older: A Pooled Analysis of Prospective Data. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2020 Sep 01; 112(9):929-937. PMID: 31845728.
    Citations:    
  9. Peng C, DuPre N, VoPham T, Heng YJ, Baker GM, Rubadue CA, Glass K, Sonawane A, Zeleznik O, Kraft P, Hankinson SE, Eliassen AH, Hart JE, Laden F, Tamimi RM. Low dose environmental radon exposure and breast tumor gene expression. BMC Cancer. 2020 Jul 28; 20(1):695. PMID: 32723380.
    Citations:    
  10. McGee EE, Kim CH, Wang M, Spiegelman D, Stover DG, Heng YJ, Collins LC, Baker GM, Farvid MS, Schedin P, Jindal S, Tamimi RM, Eliassen AH. Erythrocyte membrane fatty acids and breast cancer risk by tumor tissue expression of immuno-inflammatory markers and fatty acid synthase: a nested case-control study. Breast Cancer Res. 2020 07 22; 22(1):78. PMID: 32698885.
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  11. Simin J, Tamimi RM, Engstrand L, Callens S, Brusselaers N. Antibiotic use and the risk of breast cancer: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Pharmacol Res. 2020 Jul 15; 160:105072. PMID: 32679181.
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  12. Chen H, Yaghjyan L, Li C, Peters U, Rosner B, Lindström S, Tamimi RM. Interactions Between Mammographic Density Phenotypes and Established Risk Factors on Breast Cancer Risk, by Tumor Subtype and Menopausal Status. Am J Epidemiol. 2020 Jul 08. PMID: 32639533.
    Citations:    
  13. Xie Y, Valdimarsdóttir UA, Wang C, Zhong X, Gou Q, Zheng H, Deng L, He P, Hu K, Fall K, Fang F, Tamimi RM, Luo T, Lu D. Public health insurance and cancer-specific mortality risk among patients with breast cancer: A prospective cohort study in China. Int J Cancer. 2020 Jul 04. PMID: 32621751.
    Citations:    
  14. Liu J, Prager-van der Smissen WJC, Collée JM, Bolla MK, Wang Q, Michailidou K, Dennis J, Ahearn TU, Aittomäki K, Ambrosone CB, Andrulis IL, Anton-Culver H, Antonenkova NN, Arndt V, Arnold N, Aronson KJ, Augustinsson A, Auvinen P, Becher H, Beckmann MW, Behrens S, Bermisheva M, Bernstein L, Bogdanova NV, Bogdanova-Markov N, Bojesen SE, Brauch H, Brenner H, Briceno I, Brucker SY, Brüning T, Burwinkel B, Cai Q, Cai H, Campa D, Canzian F, Castelao JE, Chang-Claude J, Chanock SJ, Choi JY, Christiaens M, Clarke CL, Couch FJ, Czene K, Daly MB, Devilee P, Dos-Santos-Silva I, Dwek M, Eccles DM, Eliassen AH, Fasching PA, Figueroa J, Flyger H, Fritschi L, Gago-Dominguez M, Gapstur SM, García-Closas M, García-Sáenz JA, Gaudet MM, Giles GG, Goldberg MS, Goldgar DE, Guénel P, Haiman CA, Håkansson N, Hall P, Harrington PA, Hart SN, Hartman M, Hillemanns P, Hopper JL, Hou MF, Hunter DJ, Huo D, Ito H, Iwasaki M, Jakimovska M, Jakubowska A, John EM, Kaaks R, Kang D, Keeman R, Khusnutdinova E, Kim SW, Kraft P, Kristensen VN, Kurian AW, Le Marchand L, Li J, Lindblom A, Lophatananon A, Luben RN, Lubinski J, Mannermaa A, Manoochehri M, Manoukian S, Margolin S, Mariapun S, Matsuo K, Maurer T, Mavroudis D, Meindl A, Menon U, Milne RL, Muir K, Mulligan AM, Neuhausen SL, Nevanlinna H, Offit K, Olopade OI, Olson JE, Olsson H, Orr N, Park SK, Peterlongo P, Peto J, Plaseska-Karanfilska D, Presneau N, Rack B, Rau-Murthy R, Rennert G, Rennert HS, Rhenius V, Romero A, Ruebner M, Saloustros E, Schmutzler RK, Schneeweiss A, Scott C, Shah M, Shen CY, Shu XO, Simard J, Sohn C, Southey MC, Spinelli JJ, Tamimi RM, Tapper WJ, Teo SH, Terry MB, Torres D, Truong T, Untch M, Vachon CM, van Asperen CJ, Wolk A, Yamaji T, Zheng W, Ziogas A, Ziv E, Torres-Mejía G, Dörk T, Swerdlow AJ, Hamann U, Schmidt MK, Dunning AM, Pharoah PDP, Easton DF, Hooning MJ, Martens JWM, Hollestelle A. Germline HOXB13 mutations p.G84E and p.R217C do not confer an increased breast cancer risk. Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 16; 10(1):9688. PMID: 32546843.
    Citations:    
  15. Yaghjyan L, Wijayabahu A, Eliassen AH, Colditz G, Rosner B, Tamimi RM. Associations of aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications with mammographic breast density and breast cancer risk. Cancer Causes Control. 2020 Sep; 31(9):827-837. PMID: 32476101.
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  16. Zhang H, Ahearn TU, Lecarpentier J, Barnes D, Beesley J, Qi G, Jiang X, O'Mara TA, Zhao N, Bolla MK, Dunning AM, Dennis J, Wang Q, Ful ZA, Aittomäki K, Andrulis IL, Anton-Culver H, Arndt V, Aronson KJ, Arun BK, Auer PL, Azzollini J, Barrowdale D, Becher H, Beckmann MW, Behrens S, Benitez J, Bermisheva M, Bialkowska K, Blanco A, Blomqvist C, Bogdanova NV, Bojesen SE, Bonanni B, Bondavalli D, Borg A, Brauch H, Brenner H, Briceno I, Broeks A, Brucker SY, Brüning T, Burwinkel B, Buys SS, Byers H, Caldés T, Caligo MA, Calvello M, Campa D, Castelao JE, Chang-Claude J, Chanock SJ, Christiaens M, Christiansen H, Chung WK, Claes KBM, Clarke CL, Cornelissen S, Couch FJ, Cox A, Cross SS, Czene K, Daly MB, Devilee P, Diez O, Domchek SM, Dörk T, Dwek M, Eccles DM, Ekici AB, Evans DG, Fasching PA, Figueroa J, Foretova L, Fostira F, Friedman E, Frost D, Gago-Dominguez M, Gapstur SM, Garber J, García-Sáenz JA, Gaudet MM, Gayther SA, Giles GG, Godwin AK, Goldberg MS, Goldgar DE, González-Neira A, Greene MH, Gronwald J, Guénel P, Häberle L, Hahnen E, Haiman CA, Hake CR, Hall P, Hamann U, Harkness EF, Heemskerk-Gerritsen BAM, Hillemanns P, Hogervorst FBL, Holleczek B, Hollestelle A, Hooning MJ, Hoover RN, Hopper JL, Howell A, Huebner H, Hulick PJ, Imyanitov EN, Isaacs C, Izatt L, Jager A, Jakimovska M, Jakubowska A, James P, Janavicius R, Janni W, John EM, Jones ME, Jung A, Kaaks R, Kapoor PM, Karlan BY, Keeman R, Khan S, Khusnutdinova E, Kitahara CM, Ko YD, Konstantopoulou I, Koppert LB, Koutros S, Kristensen VN, Laenkholm AV, Lambrechts D, Larsson SC, Laurent-Puig P, Lazaro C, Lazarova E, Lejbkowicz F, Leslie G, Lesueur F, Lindblom A, Lissowska J, Lo WY, Loud JT, Lubinski J, Lukomska A, MacInnis RJ, Mannermaa A, Manoochehri M, Manoukian S, Margolin S, Martinez ME, Matricardi L, McGuffog L, McLean C, Mebirouk N, Meindl A, Menon U, Miller A, Mingazheva E, Montagna M, Mulligan AM, Mulot C, Muranen TA, Nathanson KL, Neuhausen SL, Nevanlinna H, Neven P, Newman WG, Nielsen FC, Nikitina-Zake L, Nodora J, Offit K, Olah E, Olopade OI, Olsson H, Orr N, Papi L, Papp J, Park-Simon TW, Parsons MT, Peissel B, Peixoto A, Peshkin B, Peterlongo P, Peto J, Phillips KA, Piedmonte M, Plaseska-Karanfilska D, Prajzendanc K, Prentice R, Prokofyeva D, Rack B, Radice P, Ramus SJ, Rantala J, Rashid MU, Rennert G, Rennert HS, Risch HA, Romero A, Rookus MA, Rübner M, Rüdiger T, Saloustros E, Sampson S, Sandler DP, Sawyer EJ, Scheuner MT, Schmutzler RK, Schneeweiss A, Schoemaker MJ, Schöttker B, Schürmann P, Senter L, Sharma P, Sherman ME, Shu XO, Singer CF, Smichkoska S, Soucy P, Southey MC, Spinelli JJ, Stone J, Stoppa-Lyonnet D, Swerdlow AJ, Szabo CI, Tamimi RM, Tapper WJ, Taylor JA, Teixeira MR, Terry M, Thomassen M, Thull DL, Tischkowitz M, Toland AE, Tollenaar RAEM, Tomlinson I, Torres D, Troester MA, Truong T, Tung N, Untch M, Vachon CM, van den Ouweland AMW, van der Kolk LE, van Veen EM, vanRensburg EJ, Vega A, Wappenschmidt B, Weinberg CR, Weitzel JN, Wildiers H, Winqvist R, Wolk A, Yang XR, Yannoukakos D, Zheng W, Zorn KK, Milne RL, Kraft P, Simard J, Pharoah PDP, Michailidou K, Antoniou AC, Schmidt MK, Chenevix-Trench G, Easton DF, Chatterjee N, García-Closas M. Genome-wide association study identifies 32 novel breast cancer susceptibility loci from overall and subtype-specific analyses. Nat Genet. 2020 06; 52(6):572-581. PMID: 32424353.
    Citations:    
  17. Kapoor PM, Mavaddat N, Choudhury PP, Wilcox AN, Lindström S, Behrens S, Michailidou K, Dennis J, Bolla MK, Wang Q, Jung A, Abu-Ful Z, Ahearn T, Andrulis IL, Anton-Culver H, Arndt V, Aronson KJ, Auer PL, Freeman LEB, Becher H, Beckmann MW, Beeghly-Fadiel A, Benitez J, Bernstein L, Bojesen SE, Brauch H, Brenner H, Brüning T, Cai Q, Campa D, Canzian F, Carracedo A, Carter BD, Castelao JE, Chanock SJ, Chatterjee N, Chenevix-Trench G, Clarke CL, Couch FJ, Cox A, Cross SS, Czene K, Dai JY, Earp HS, Ekici AB, Eliassen AH, Eriksson M, Evans DG, Fasching PA, Figueroa J, Fritschi L, Gabrielson M, Gago-Dominguez M, Gao C, Gapstur SM, Gaudet MM, Giles GG, González-Neira A, Guénel P, Haeberle L, Haiman CA, Håkansson N, Hall P, Hamann U, Hatse S, Heyworth J, Holleczek B, Hoover RN, Hopper JL, Howell A, Hunter DJ, John EM, Jones ME, Kaaks R, Keeman R, Kitahara CM, Ko YD, Koutros S, Kurian AW, Lambrechts D, Marchand LL, Lee E, Lejbkowicz F, Linet M, Lissowska J, Llaneza A, MacInnis RJ, Martinez ME, Maurer T, McLean C, Neuhausen SL, Newman WG, Norman A, O'Brien KM, Olshan AF, Olson JE, Olsson H, Orr N, Perou CM, Pita G, Polley EC, Prentice RL, Rennert G, Rennert HS, Ruddy KJ, Sandler DP, Saunders C, Schoemaker MJ, Schöttker B, Schumacher F, Scott C, Scott RJ, Shu XO, Smeets A, Southey MC, Spinelli JJ, Stone J, Swerdlow AJ, Tamimi RM, Taylor JA, Troester MA, Vachon CM, van Veen EM, Wang X, Weinberg CR, Weltens C, Willett W, Winham SJ, Wolk A, Yang XR, Zheng W, Ziogas A, Dunning AM, Pharoah PDP, Schmidt MK, Kraft P, Easton DF, Milne RL, García-Closas M, Chang-Claude J. Combined associations of a polygenic risk score and classical risk factors with breast cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2020 May 02. PMID: 32359158.
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  18. Wetstein SC, Onken AM, Luffman C, Baker GM, Pyle ME, Kensler KH, Liu Y, Bakker B, Vlutters R, van Leeuwen MB, Collins LC, Schnitt SJ, Pluim JPW, Tamimi RM, Heng YJ, Veta M. Deep learning assessment of breast terminal duct lobular unit involution: Towards automated prediction of breast cancer risk. PLoS One. 2020; 15(4):e0231653. PMID: 32294107.
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  19. DuPré NC, Heng YJ, Raby BA, Glass K, Hart JE, Chu JH, Askew C, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Kraft P, Laden F, Tamimi RM. Involvement of fine particulate matter exposure with gene expression pathways in breast tumor and adjacent-normal breast tissue. Environ Res. 2020 07; 186:109535. PMID: 32668536.
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  20. VoPham T, Bertrand KA, Jones RR, Deziel NC, DuPré NC, James P, Liu Y, Vieira VM, Tamimi RM, Hart JE, Ward MH, Laden F. Dioxin exposure and breast cancer risk in a prospective cohort study. Environ Res. 2020 07; 186:109516. PMID: 32305677.
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  21. Kotsopoulos J, McGee EE, Lozano-Esparza S, Garber JE, Ligibel J, Collins LC, Polyak K, Brown M, Narod S, Tamimi RM, Eliassen AH. Premenopausal Plasma Osteoprotegerin and Breast Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Analysis Nested within the Nurses' Health Study II. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2020 Jun; 29(6):1264-1270. PMID: 32277005.
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