Jinani Jayasekera, Ph.D., M.S.

Stadtman Investigator

Health Equity and Decision Sciences (HEADS) Laboratory


11545 Rockville Pike
2WF, Room C09
Rockville, MD 20818



Research Topics

Decision sciences include a range of quantitative and qualitative methods to inform decision-making at individual, interpersonal, community, and societal levels. The focus on the “Decision” as the unit of analysis provides a unique framework to develop interventions and policies that could help reduce disparities in health care. Decision sciences utilize a variety of tools such as biostatistics, econometrics, mathematical/simulation modeling, economic analysis, operational research, behavioral research, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis. Dr. Jayasekera's Health Equity and Decision Sciences (HEADS) research lab focuses on the following areas:

Clinical Decision Tools to Support Equitable Cancer Care
Personalized cancer prevention and control decisions are best informed by a combination of multiple data sources that could quantify the variation of effects by patient, clinical, and genomic characteristics of individuals seen in clinical practice. Mathematical modeling provides a powerful computational tool to combine information from various high-quality data sources to depict complex relationships between patient (e.g., age), clinical (e.g., comorbidities, tumor size), and genomic (e.g., BRCA 1/2, 21-gene score) characteristics to generate robust estimates that could support personalized clinical care for diverse individuals. These tools could facilitate optimal communication with health care providers, patients, and their involved family members considering clinical, interpersonal, and societal factors. Dr. Jayasekera's research program focuses on the development, validation, and testing of clinical decision tools to support equitable cancer care.

"Virtual" Clinical Trials to Advance Health Equity
Randomized clinical trials are the gold standard for understanding intervention effects and developing clinical guidelines. However, clinical trials are enormous consumers of time and resources. The HEADS research lab uses a range of tools to synthesize existing data and simulate trials to predict trial outcomes; identify key design issues prior to the implementation of a clinical trial; and most importantly, evaluate the implications of trial designs and results on health disparities.

Informing Policies to Reduce Health Disparities in Cancer Outcomes
Improving the quality and equity of healthcare is an important goal for cancer prevention and control research. New advances in screening and treatment have led to overall declines in US cancer mortality. However, this progress has not been realized equally across the US. For example, black women have persistently higher breast cancer mortality rates than white women. Reasons for these epidemiological trends are likely multifactorial, including availability, access to and quality of health care services, socioeconomic inequalities, completeness, and effectiveness of cancer treatments. The HEADS research lab generates novel data to inform the development of population health policies, guidelines, and interventions that could reduce social inequalities in cancer care.


Dr. Jinani Jayasekera is an Earl Stadtman investigator and an NIH Distinguished Scholar in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Prior to joining NIMHD, she was an Assistant (tenure-line) Professor of Oncology at the School of Medicine at Georgetown University. She received her master's and doctorate in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She holds a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy and a master's degree in Financial Economics from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Dr. Jayasekera has over a decade of experience in cancer health services research and mathematical modeling. Her research has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In 2021, Dr. Jayasekera received the John F. Potter award for Outstanding Early-Stage Researcher from the Georgetown-Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in recognition of her work in translational breast cancer research. She is the recipient of several research awards including the 2020 Eisenberg Career Development Award from the Georgetown Women in Medicine, and a Cancer Prevention Research Fellowship from the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO) in 2017. Dr. Jayasekera has served as a reviewer for several journals and was recognized as an Outstanding Reviewer by the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2020. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), and Cancer.

Selected Publications

  1. Jayasekera J, Zhao A, Schechter C, Lowry K, Yeh JM, Schwartz MD, O'Neill S, Wernli KJ, Stout N, Mandelblatt J, Kurian AW, Isaacs C. Reassessing the Benefits and Harms of Risk-Reducing Medication Considering the Persistent Risk of Breast Cancer Mortality in Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2023;41(4):859-870.

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This page was last updated on Monday, July 31, 2023