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Herbert Yu, MD, PhD

Herbert Yu, MD, PhD, MSc

Herbert Yu
  • Professor, University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Director, Cancer Epidemiology Program
  • Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Sciences
  • Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology, Yale University School of Public Health


  • MD (Medicine), Shanghai Medical University
  • PhD (Clinical Biochemistry), University of Toronto
  • MSc (Epidemiology), University of Toronto

Research Focus

Dr. Yu is a molecular epidemiologist, and his research focuses on gene-environment interaction in cancer development and molecular changes in tumor progression and disease prognosis. Being trained both in population sciences and laboratory research, Dr. Yu has extensive experience in conducting epidemiological studies and clinical investigations. He has completed numerous clinical and epidemiological projects addressing a variety of research questions on a number of cancer sites, including the breast, ovary, endometrium, liver, lung, pancreas and prostate. His studies cover a wide range of topics, including dietary habit, nutrient intake, physical activity, genetic susceptibility, sex steroid hormones, mitogenic growth factors, gene-environment interaction, genotype-phenotype interplay, lifestyle influences on epigenetic regulation, and biomarkers for disease prognosis and treatment prediction. Recently, Dr. Yu's research addresses changes in DNA methylation in relation to tumor progression and their clinical applications. He has investigated DNA methylation in tumor suppressor genes and DNA repair genes, methylator phenotype in tumor progression, methylation pattern in regulation of alternative expression in multiple promoters, tumorigenic effects of microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, and impacts of physical activity and obesity on DNA methylation. He has been involved in several NIH-funded clinical and epidemiological research projects to study molecular factors associated with cancer risk and tumor progression, including genome-wide association studies. Currently, he is a principal investigator of population-cased case-control studies of hepatocellular carcinoma and endometrial cancer and co-investigator of studies on pancreatic cancer. He also conducts two clinical follow-up studies to investigate genetic and molecular markers in relation to the clinical and pathological characteristics of breast and ovarian cancers as well as the survival outcomes of patients diagnosed with these cancers.


  • Lu L, Katsaros D, Mayne ST, Risch HA, Benedetto C, Canuto EM, Yu H.Functional study of risk loci of stem cell-associated gene lin-28b and associations with disease survival outcomes in epithelial ovarian cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2012; Jul 20 [Epub ahead of print].
  • Setiawan VW, Yang HP, Pike MC, McCann SE, Yu H, Xiang YB, Wolk A, et al.Type I and II endometrial cancers: have they different risk factors? J Clin Oncol. 2013; 31(20):2607-2628.
  • Risch HA, Lu L, Wang J, Zhang W, Ni, QX, Gao YT, Yu H.ABO blood group and risk of pancreatic carcinoma, a study in Shanghai and meta-analysis. Am J Epidemiol. 2013; 177(12):1326-1337.
  • Song MA, Tiirikainen M, Kwee S, Okimoto G, Yu H, Wong LL. Elucidating the landscape of aberrant DNA methylation in hepatocellular carcinoma. PLoS ONE. 2013; 8(2): e55761.
  • Xue X, Xie X, Gunter, M, Rohan TE, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Ho GY, Cirillo D, Yu H, Strickler HD. Testing the proportional hazards assumption in case-cohort analysis. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2013; 13:88.
  • Arem H, Neuhouser ML, Irwin ML, Cartmel B, Lu L, Risch H, Mayne S, Yu H.Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intakes and endometrial cancer risk in a population-based case-control study. Eur J Nutr. 2013; 52(3):1251-1260.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • H. Yu, Program Director, (M. Carbone, Principal Investigator)
    "University of Hawaii Cancer Center CCSG"
  • H. Yu, Principal Investigator
    "Epidemiologic Study of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the US"
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