Heather M. Ochs-Balcom


Heather M. Ochs-Balcom.

Heather M. Ochs-Balcom


Heather M. Ochs-Balcom


Director of Graduate Studies, MPH Program
Director, MPH Concentration in Epidemiology
Associate Professor

Research Topics

Genetic epidemiology of complex traits; cancer health disparities; obesity and cancer risk; gene-environment interactions.

Overview Publications News

Professional Summary

Heather M. Ochs-Balcom, PhD joined the department in 2007 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Case Western Reserve University in the Division of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology under Robert Elston, PhD. She was appointed as an assistant professor in 2009 and as an associate professor in 2016.
Interdisciplinary pre- and post-doctoral training in epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, statistical genetics and computational approaches in family-based and population-based research established a strong foundation on which her research was developed.

The focus of her research program is on the role of genetics in complex diseases/traits, including non-white population groups. More specifically, her research  applies genetic epidemiology approaches to identify new disease-associated genes and elucidate how modifiable disease risk factors (obesity, sleep, drugs) interact with known gene-disease associations. She is also interested in obesity-cancer mechanisms. She is currently working on a study of breast cancer genetics in African American families, participating in several studies on breast cancer and sleep in the Women's Health Initiative, and developing work in the area of obesity and colorectal cancer.


  • PhD, Epidemiology and Community Health, University at Buffalo, 2004
  • MS, Biology, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, PA, 2000
  • BS, Biology, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, PA, 1997

Professional Training

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 2004-2007

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • International Genetic Epidemiology Society
  • American Society of Human Genetics
  • American Society of Preventive Oncology
  • Society for Epidemiologic Research