Skip to main content
Grant Details

Grant Number: 5R00CA248335-04 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Dickerman, Barbra
Organization: Harvard School Of Public Health
Project Title: Identifying Optimal Dynamic Strategies for Prostate Cancer Control
Fiscal Year: 2023


PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Big Data has the potential to revolutionize cancer research and care, but extracting the information it holds on the optimal strategies for cancer control will require cutting-edge tools in data science. The optimal strategies for cancer control will be dynamic strategies that adapt clinical decisions over time to a patient’s evolving clinical history. Unfortunately, conventional statistical methods cannot appropriately compare dynamic strategies, so we need methods specifically designed for this task: g-methods. G-methods have helped to shape clinical care in many areas, but they have not been systematically applied to cancer research. Further, while g-methods let us validly estimate the effect of pre-specified strategies, these may not be the optimal strategies. My overarching goal is to apply and further develop analytic methods to learn the optimal strategies for cancer control from complex longitudinal data and generate user-friendly, publicly-available software to make these methods available to the cancer research community. I will apply these methods to answer key clinical questions across the prostate cancer control continuum: 1) the optimal dietary and lifestyle strategies to prevent aggressive prostate cancer, 2) the optimal screening strategy following a baseline PSA test to maximize detection of aggressive disease while minimizing detection of indolent tumors, and 3) the optimal statin therapy strategy to maximize survival among men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer. This project will leverage data from a large prospective cohort study and a novel platform of electronic health records linked with genetic data. I will first apply g-methods to estimate the effects of recommended strategies for cancer control that a randomized trial would have limited feasibility to evaluate. I will then investigate whether novel methods that learn the optimal strategies from the data may lead to improved, targeted recommendations that get the right interventions to the right people at the right time. This innovative project will advance comparative effectiveness research for cancer care at the cutting edge of data science. I am optimally positioned to undertake this research based on my 1) expertise in cancer, epidemiology, and causal inference; 2) exceptional multidisciplinary mentoring team comprised of global leaders in their respective fields; and 3) unparalleled research environment to support my career development. Through this work, I will expand my expertise in new areas, including machine learning. The proposed research and training will help me achieve my long-term career goal to become an independent investigator and lead a transdisciplinary research program that integrates causal inference and machine learning to identify optimal strategies for cancer control. Leveraging rich, existing data, this proposal represents a significant opportunity to develop, apply, and disseminate powerful methods for big clinical data to accelerate progress in cancer research and care.


Prostate cancer screening in African American men: a review of the evidence.
Authors: Kensler K.H. , Johnson R. , Morley F. , Albrair M. , Dickerman B.A. , Gulati R. , Holt S.K. , Iyer H.S. , Kibel A.S. , Lee J.R. , et al. .
Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2024-01-10; 116(1), p. 34-52.
PMID: 37713266
Related Citations

Development of the TrAnsparent ReportinG of observational studies Emulating a Target trial (TARGET) guideline.
Authors: Hansford H.J. , Cashin A.G. , Jones M.D. , Swanson S.A. , Islam N. , Dahabreh I.J. , Dickerman B.A. , Egger M. , Garcia-Albeniz X. , Golub R.M. , et al. .
Source: BMJ open, 2023-09-12; 13(9), p. e074626.
EPub date: 2023-09-12.
PMID: 37699620
Related Citations

Reporting of Observational Studies Explicitly Aiming to Emulate Randomized Trials: A Systematic Review.
Authors: Hansford H.J. , Cashin A.G. , Jones M.D. , Swanson S.A. , Islam N. , Douglas S.R.G. , Rizzo R.R.N. , Devonshire J.J. , Williams S.A. , Dahabreh I.J. , et al. .
Source: JAMA network open, 2023-09-05; 6(9), p. e2336023.
EPub date: 2023-09-05.
PMID: 37755828
Related Citations

Evaluating Metformin Strategies for Cancer Prevention: A Target Trial Emulation Using Electronic Health Records.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , García-Albéniz X. , Logan R.W. , Denaxas S. , Hernán M.A. .
Source: Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 2023-09-01; 34(5), p. 690-699.
EPub date: 2023-05-23.
PMID: 37227368
Related Citations

Comparative effectiveness of third doses of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines in US veterans.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , Gerlovin H. , Madenci A.L. , Figueroa Muñiz M.J. , Wise J.K. , Adhikari N. , Ferolito B.R. , Kurgansky K.E. , Gagnon D.R. , Cho K. , et al. .
Source: Nature microbiology, 2023 Jan; 8(1), p. 55-63.
EPub date: 2023-01-02.
PMID: 36593297
Related Citations

Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and coronavirus disease 2019 outcomes in men with HIV.
Authors: Li G. , Park L.S. , Lodi S. , Logan R.W. , Cartwright E.J. , Aoun-Barakat L. , Casas J.P. , Dickerman B.A. , Rentsch C.T. , Justice A.C. , et al. .
Source: AIDS (London, England), 2022-10-01; 36(12), p. 1689-1696.
EPub date: 2022-07-15.
PMID: 35848570
Related Citations

A metabolomic analysis of adiposity measures and pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Nurses' Health Studies.
Authors: Brantley K.D. , Zeleznik O.A. , Dickerman B.A. , Balasubramanian R. , Clish C.B. , Avila-Pacheco J. , Rosner B. , Tamimi R.M. , Eliassen A.H. .
Source: British journal of cancer, 2022 Oct; 127(6), p. 1076-1085.
EPub date: 2022-06-18.
PMID: 35717425
Related Citations

Comparative Safety of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 Vaccines in a Nationwide Cohort of US Veterans.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , Madenci A.L. , Gerlovin H. , Kurgansky K.E. , Wise J.K. , Figueroa Muñiz M.J. , Ferolito B.R. , Gagnon D.R. , Gaziano J.M. , Cho K. , et al. .
Source: JAMA internal medicine, 2022-07-01; 182(7), p. 739-746.
PMID: 35696161
Related Citations

Predicting counterfactual risks under hypothetical treatment strategies: an application to HIV.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , Dahabreh I.J. , Cantos K.V. , Logan R.W. , Lodi S. , Rentsch C.T. , Justice A.C. , Hernán M.A. .
Source: European journal of epidemiology, 2022 Apr; 37(4), p. 367-376.
EPub date: 2022-02-22.
PMID: 35190946
Related Citations

Comparative Effectiveness of BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 Vaccines in U.S. Veterans.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , Gerlovin H. , Madenci A.L. , Kurgansky K.E. , Ferolito B.R. , Figueroa Muñiz M.J. , Gagnon D.R. , Gaziano J.M. , Cho K. , Casas J.P. , et al. .
Source: The New England journal of medicine, 2022-01-13; 386(2), p. 105-115.
EPub date: 2021-12-01.
PMID: 34942066
Related Citations

Estimating the effect of nutritional interventions using observational data: the American Heart Association's 2020 Dietary Goals and mortality.
Authors: Chiu Y.H. , Chavarro J.E. , Dickerman B.A. , Manson J.E. , Mukamal K.J. , Rexrode K.M. , Rimm E.B. , Hernán M.A. .
Source: The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2021-08-02; 114(2), p. 690-703.
PMID: 34041538
Related Citations

Association of Prediagnostic Blood Metabolomics with Prostate Cancer Defined by ERG or PTEN Molecular Subtypes.
Authors: Feng X. , Zhou C.K. , Clish C.B. , Wilson K.M. , Pernar C.H. , Dickerman B.A. , Loda M. , Finn S.P. , Penney K.L. , Schmidt D.R. , et al. .
Source: Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 2021 May; 30(5), p. 1000-1008.
EPub date: 2021-02-24.
PMID: 33627383
Related Citations

Emulating a target trial in case-control designs: an application to statins and colorectal cancer.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , García-Albéniz X. , Logan R.W. , Denaxas S. , Hernán M.A. .
Source: International journal of epidemiology, 2020-10-01; 49(5), p. 1637-1646.
PMID: 32989456
Related Citations

Counterfactual prediction is not only for causal inference.
Authors: Dickerman B.A. , Hernán M.A. .
Source: European journal of epidemiology, 2020 Jul; 35(7), p. 615-617.
PMID: 32623620
Related Citations

Back to Top