Yawei Zhang MD, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Epidemiology (Environmental Health)

Biographical Info

Dr. Zhang's research focuses on two areas: 1) etiology and prognosis of adult malignancies; and 2) risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes. In particular, she has been pioneering the causes of increasing trends of thyroid cancer observed worldwide. As thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women in the United States, and factors that are responsible for this increasing trend are largely unknown, there is a critical need to clarify dangers. She is currently leading research activities in these areas as the PI of a population-based case-control study of thyroid cancer in Connecticut and a large nested case-control study of thyroid cancer in the Department of Defense Serum Repository (DoDSR) cohort. Dr. Zhang has been studying a wide array of environmental exposures, lifestyle factors and gene-environment interaction in the etiology and prognosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She plays a major role in the International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium (InterLymph), and her research on hair dye use served as key evidence for IARC Monograph. She has also been studying environment factors and gene-environment interactions for multiple myeloma and cancers of the testes, pancreas, lung, liver, breast, and bladder.

Dr. Zhang became interested in adverse pregnancy outcomes because the fetal origin hypothesis suggests that growth and developmental delays in utero may influence not only childhood mortality and morbidity but also the risk of diseases in adulthood including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Dr. Zhang is currently establishing a birth cohort study in Lanzhou and Taiyuan, China to investigate a wide range of environmental and lifestyle factors, genetic and epigenetic changes, gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, and risk of adverse birth outcomes and maternal complications.

International Activity

  • International Lymphoma Epidemiology Consortium (InterLymph)
    Australia; Canada; Czech Republic; Denmark; France; Germany; Italy; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway(2013)
    The goal of the InterLymph is to enhance collaboration among epidemiologists studying lymphoma, provide a forum for the exchange of research ideas, and create a framework for collaborating on analyses that pool data from multiple lymphoma studies. The countries involved include Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.
  • Birth Cohort Study in China
    Work done to establish a multi-center birth cohort study in China to understand early life environmental exposures and human health. This study is supported by Yale YCCI award, NIH K02 award, Shangxi Medical University, and Natural Science Foundation of China.

Education & Training

Western China University of Medical Science (1993)
Yale University (2003)
Yale University (2004)

Honors & Recognition

  • Scholar in Training Award, American Association for Cancer Research
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Cancer Institute

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