School of Public Health

Lu Chen

Profile Photo 

Ningbo, a harbor city on the southeast coast of China

Epidemiology, PhD

Research Interest
I’ve always been interested in the etiology of cancer and cancer survivorship and how health disparities manifest themselves in all aspects of the continuum of cancer epidemiology.

What was it that inspired you to pursue a career in epidemiology? 
At first I just wanted to learn about smoking and lung cancer so I could do something about it given the high prevalence of smoking in China. Then I was totally fascinated by the methodology of epidemiology, the way we think about distribution and causes of the disease. There were so many interesting topics I wanted to explore, so I went on to a PhD program after an MPH in epidemiology.

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on in your program?
Last year I did an analysis on bra wearing and breast cancer risk, which was a sort of debunk of an internet rumor. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the US and bra wearing is also so ubiquitous nowadays. These two things seem to happen together and make people wonder whether one causes the other. We analyzed data from one of our large population-based case-control studies and showed that none of the aspects of bra wearing habits, such as duration of wearing, age first began wearing, or whether wearing an underwired bra, was related to the risk of breast cancer. The article was published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarker and Prevention, which attracted a lot of media attention. It was also my first time talking about findings from an epidemiological study to the media and general public, and it was a fun experience.

What do you like about living in Seattle? 
It is a culturally diverse city with so many cultural and historical attractions, let alone the breathtaking national parks that surround it.

What is a little known fact about you?
I have a 4-year-old daughter and to be part of her life as she grows up is the best thing I can think of in the world.