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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Kala Visvanathan, MBBS, FRACP, MHS

Professor of Epidemiology and Oncology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, Maryland

Current Research

Dr. Visvanathan and colleagues continue to make good progress on a number of projects related to the relationship between obesity, inflammation and breast cancer particularly in women with a family history including BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. In the last year, they have completed and published a study comparing weight change in breast cancer survivors with a familial risk of breast cancer to cancer-free women in which they reported that breast cancer survivors (who underwent chemotherapy) gained significantly more weight than cancer-free women. These findings provide support for the weight loss interventions in this high-risk group. In the coming year, Dr. Visvanathan’s team will explore the role of inflammation and oxidative stress in the weight gain in breast cancer survivors. They are also near completion of data analysis for a pilot study evaluating the short term effects of the removal of the ovaries on multiple health outcomes (such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, body measurement changes and weight gain) and continue to investigate anti-inflammatory medication use and disease progression as well as other lifestyle factors.


Kala Visvanathan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Department of Medical Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Visvanathan is Director the Clinical Cancer Genetics and Prevention Service and the Cancer Epidemiology Track at Johns Hopkins.

She received her medical degree from the University of Sydney in Australia.  She subsequently went on to complete her training in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, an academic teaching hospital of the University of Sydney in Australia and at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center Johns Hopkins School of Mediine. Dr. Visvanathan also completed training in clinical/cancer epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Her research is focused on primary and secondary prevention of breast and ovarian cancer. Trained as a medical oncologist and cancer epidemiologist, a large part of her research is transdisciplinary and focused on translating results from the laboratory to populations, to identify at risk groups, preventable targets and to evaluate agents that have the potential to impact the natural history of breast and ovarian cancer. She conducts both observational studies and clinical prevention/early detection studies Specific exposures of interest include hormonal exposures, inflammation, genetic and epigenetic changes, DNA damage/repair, obesity and oxidative damage. She has recently co-chaired the American Society of Clinical Oncology national guideline on breast cancer risk reduction.