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Melinda L. Irwin , PhD, MPH

Professor, Chronic Disease Epidemiology,
Yale School of Public Health
Deputy Director of Public Health, Yale Center for Clinical Investigation
Associate Director, Population Sciences, Yale Cancer Center
New Haven, Connecticut

Current Research

  • Seeking to understand the biological underpinnings of exercise and weight in breast cancer prevention and outcomes.

  • A clinical study is conducted to¬†examine the effect of a diet and physical activity intervention on biomarkers, body composition, and quality of life.

  • These studies will¬†provide the framework for the development of more personalized lifestyle prescriptions to improve breast cancer outcomes.

Lifestyle and behavior can influence breast cancer risk and outcomes. Obesity increases the risk of breast cancer in older women and increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Given that lifestyle and physical activity are most impacted within the first year after a breast cancer diagnosis, intervening soon after diagnosis may have the biggest impact on breast cancer outcomes.

Dr. Irwin is conducting a study in women who are newly diagnosed with Stage I-III breast cancer. The study called LEAN-early (LEANer) will compare the effect of a diet and physical activity intervention to usual care on various breast cancer outcomes including pathologic complete response, chemotherapy completion rate, biomarkers in blood, body composition, and quality of life.

Dr. Irwin's research goals are to advance our understanding of the biological mechanisms mediating the effect of exercise and weight loss on breast cancer prognosis to develop more personalized lifestyle prescriptions. These studies may lead to a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality and improve quality of life. Increased understanding may lead to a paradigm shift in how breast cancer care is delivered, and increased access to and reimbursement of weight management programs.


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.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award
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