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Dr. Heidi A. Hanson

Dr. Heidi A. Hanson - Research Assistant Professor

675 Arapeen, #213
phone 801-585-6794
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advisor Dr. Orly Alter

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Background

Dr. Hanson is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Public Health and a research associate at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She is a sociologist and biodemographer. She completed her bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science and Health, Graduate Certificate in Demography, and MS and PhD in Sociology with a public health emphasis at the University of Utah. She has worked as a member of the Huntsman Cancer Institute's Pedigree and Population Resource group as a computer programmer and research associate.

The goal of her research is to promote healthy aging and longevity by understanding the genetic and environmental determinants of health throughout the life course. Specific areas of research include understanding how environmental influences in utero and early childhood affect later life health, the relationship between fertility and later life health, genetic determinants of longevity, familial predisposition to obesity and the interaction with social and physical environments, and familial, community, and socioeconomic factors affecting health outcomes.

Current Responsibilities

I am currently working on a Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) K12 grant entitled Phenomes, Families, Cancer, and the Environment (PHFaCE): Using the phenome to better understand genetic and environmental risks of cancer in women. The purpose of my research project is to elucidate genetic and environmental mechanisms predisposing women to cancer by developing new algorithms to identify sex-specific familial and spatial patterns of cancer coaggregation. Uncovering underlying subtypes of cancer that have differential expressivity between sexes and across environments could identify at-risk families suitable for genetic testing or create predictive models that could be used to improve screening recommendations.

I am also the primary investigator of several pilot projects looking at the relationship between air quality and health in the aging population and the effect of early life environmental exposures on later life prostate cancer risk. In addition, I work as part of Ken Smith's Early Life Conditions, Survival, and Health research team and Ken Smith's and James Hotaling's Subfertility Health and Assisted Reproduction (SHARE) study. I am a member of the University of Utah's Consortium for Families and Health Research (C-FAHR) and Center on Aging (COA), as well as Huntsman Cancer Institute's Cancer Control and Population Sciences (CCPS) team and Genitourinary Malignancy Disease Oriented Team (GUMDOT). I am also a Vice-President for Clinical and Translational Sciences (VP-CAT) scholar and member of the Clinical and Translational Science Award Lifespan Taskforce (CTSA Lifespan).

Research Interests

Biodemography, demography, fertility, aging, cancer, early life conditions and later life health, gene-environment interactions, environmental determinants of health, and life course research.