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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Melinda  Aldrich

Melinda Aldrich, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Assistant Professor of Thoracic Surgery

Contact Information:

609 Oxford House
1313 21st Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37232-4682


Melinda Aldrich is an Assistant Professor in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on identifying genetic and environmental factors contributing to health disparities in lung cancer incidence and survival. Dr. Aldrich's interests also include personalized genomic testing and pharmacogenetics.

  • B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1992
  • M.P.H., University of California, Berkeley, 2003 
  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2007
Research Specialty

Genetic epidemiology, Racially diverse populations, Lung cancer, Pulmonary disease, Health disparities, Social and environmental factors, DNA databanks

Research Description

My research is focused on understanding why there are differences in lung cancer among different racial/ethnic populations. Specifically, my lab is focused on identifying genetic, social and environmental risk factors for lung cancer and its related phenotypes, such as nicotine addiction and pulmonary function. Investigating gene-environment and gene-gene interactions may explain some of the differences in disease between racial/ethnic groups.

Much of my research is centered on understanding how genetic differences in racial/ethnic background can influence risk of disease. African Americans have the highest lung cancer incidence and mortality compared to all other racial/ethnic groups. My lab is collaborating with Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS) investigators and physician scientists to conduct comprehensive epidemiologic research to understand genetic and environmental factors influencing disease in racially mixed populations. We are currently identifying factors predicting lung cancer survival among low-income black and white adults participating in the SCCS. This research includes collecting genetic, clinical, biomarker and environmental data and then combining these data to understand lung cancer prognosis. Additional ongoing projects include identifying genetic factors influencing lung cancer risk in African Americans and using Vanderbilt’s electronic medical records linked to the DNA databank to investigate genetic factors contributing to improved cancer survival with metformin use. The contribution of genetic ancestry to complex disease and methods to use genetic ancestry to disentangle genetic and environmental risk factors is also being explored.

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  • Slusky, DA, Metayer, C, Aldrich, MC, Ward, MH, Lea, CS, Selvin, S, Buffler, PA Reliability of maternal-reports regarding the use of household pesticides: Experience from a case-control study of childhood leukemia. Cancer Epidemiol, 36(4), 375-80, 2012.
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