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Kala Visvanathan, MBBS, FRACP, MHS

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

Current Research

  • Seeking to improve early detection and prevention strategies for women with a high risk of breast cancer.

  • Projects are aimed at understanding the impact of environmental and lifestyle factors on breast cancer risk and outcomes.

  • These efforts will inform our understanding of the impact on modifiable risk factors and lead to evidence-based prevention strategies.

Dr. Visvanathan and colleagues continue to make good progress on a number of projects related to the relationship among obesity, inflammation, and breast cancer. Ongoing studies include:

  • Examining new approaches to better understand risk factors for both women with and without breast cancer;

  • Identifying modifiable lifestyle factors for specific at-risk populations;

  • Evaluating the impact of inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress on breast cancer incidence and progression, as well as other health outcomes;

  • Examining the interaction between cancer treatment and lifestyle factors (i.e., obesity and chemotherapy);

  • Exploring the clustering of cancers and rare types such as leukemia and brain tumors;

  • Repurposing common medications such as statins for improving survival;

  • Exploring new strategies for primary and secondary prevention of breast cancer. 

In addition, she hopes to test novel approaches, such as social media, to increase the diversity of individuals participating in preventive research and identify ways to improve education and medical referrals for individuals at increased risk. The overall goal of this research is to prevent breast cancer and improve survival from the disease in all women living in the US and worldwide. 


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.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award
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