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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Melinda L. Irwin, PhD, MPH

Professor, Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology,Yale School of Public Health
Associate Director, Population Sciences, Yale Cancer Center
New Haven, Connecticut

Current Research

Lifestyle and behavior can influence breast cancer risk and outcomes. Obesity is known to increase the risk of breast cancer in older women and increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that alterations in metabolism and increases in inflammatory molecules due to obesity play a role in this association. Dr. Irwin has completed two randomized controlled trials in breast cancer survivors – the HOPE study (an exercise trial) and the LEAN study (a weight loss trial), and has reported that weight loss and exercise can favorably impact some biomarkers of breast cancer, as well as medication side effects. Her ongoing work will examine whether weight loss will have similar effects in breast tissue, the first analysis of its kind to date. Ultimately, Dr. Irwin’s research goals are to better understand the biological mechanisms mediating the effect of exercise and weight loss on breast cancer prognosis, in order to develop more personalized lifestyle prescriptions, which in turn may lead to a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality, while also improving quality of life.


Melinda L. Irwin, PhD, MPH is a tenured professor at the Yale School of Public Health and co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Irwin's primary research interests are physical activity, weight and cancer prevention and control. Her breast cancer research focuses on the impact of exercise and weight loss trials on breast tissue and serum biomarkers, as well as the impact of exercise on improving adherence to aromatase inhibitors (AIs) in breast cancer survivors. She is also examining the dissemination of her Lifestyle, Exercise, and Nutrition (LEAN) weight loss intervention in breast cancer survivors via a mail- and video-based intervention. Dr. Irwin is an investigator on the NCI-funded Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) Initiative. Dr. Irwin has published extensively on related topics, and has also served on various review and advisory committees for the NCI, American Cancer Society and Livestrong Foundation.