Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.

Senior Investigator

Metabolic Epidemiology Branch


9609 Medical Center Drive
Room SG/6E420
Rockville, MD 20850



Research Topics

Dr. Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon's research interests include:

  • Dietary, lifestyle, genetic and other risk factors for pancreatic cancer
  • Nutritional, molecular, and other biomarkers (i.e. metabolomics) and cancer

Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon has focused much of her research on elucidating the etiology of pancreatic cancer. She has examined dietary, other lifestyle, genetic, and infectious factors, including biomarkers that may help reveal underlying mechanisms of carcinogenesis. In addition to her major work on pancreatic cancer, she has pursued, on a limited basis, other nutrition-related hypotheses including biomarkers in nutritional intervention studies.

Although relatively rare, pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths and one whose incidence is increasing. In the United States, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer mortality. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common histologic type. There is no effective screening test for the malignancy; therefore, it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, which contributes to its poor five-year survival rate of approximately 8.2%. Cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, and adiposity (overweight and obesity) are among the few consistent and modifiable risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Additional environmental and nutritional factors likely play a role; however, the evidence for specific exposures is often only suggestive due to the cancer’s low incidence and inherent methodological issues related to collecting data for this rapidly fatal gastrointestinal cancer. PDAC cases often have gastrointestinal problems, weight loss, or diabetes prior to being diagnosed due to sub-clinical cancer which can influence dietary intake and biomarkers. Cohort studies with prediagnostic measures of exposures are less prone to these problems. Most of Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon’s research is conducted using prospective data and through pooled consortia efforts including the international Genome-wide Association Study of Pancreatic Cancer (PanScan).


Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon received a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics at the University of California, Davis in 1984, followed by a dietetic internship and M.Ed. in health science (nutrition) education at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and George Peabody School of Education, respectively. After this training she worked as a registered dietitian for 10 years. In 1994, she completed an M.P.H. with concentrations in epidemiology and nutrition at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon joined the NCI in 1996 as a predoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Studies Branch of the former Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and later the Center for Cancer Research, and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1999. As a Cancer Prevention Fellow, she continued postdoctoral research in the Division of Cancer Prevention and DCEG. She became an investigator in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch in December 2002, and was awarded NIH scientific tenure and promoted to senior investigator in 2011.

Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon has won several awards in recognition of her contributions to cancer research, including the 2008 NIH Merit Award for sustained and innovative work in elucidating nutritional, genetic, infectious, and other determinants of pancreatic cancer. She is an active mentor, working with graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows. She serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Epidemiology and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. Dr. Stolzenberg-Solomon also holds a position as an adjunct Associate Professor at the Yale University School of Public Health and is a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology.

Selected Publications

  1. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Jacobs EJ, Arslan AA, Qi D, Patel AV, Helzlsouer KJ, Weinstein SJ, McCullough ML, Purdue MP, Shu XO, Snyder K, Virtamo J, Wilkins LR, Yu K, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Zheng W, Albanes D, Cai Q, Harvey C, Hayes R, Clipp S, Horst RL, Irish L, Koenig K, Le Marchand L, Kolonel LN. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of pancreatic cancer: Cohort Consortium Vitamin D Pooling Project of Rarer Cancers. Am J Epidemiol. 2010;172(1):81-93.

  2. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Newton CC, Silverman DT, Pollak M, Nogueira LM, Weinstein SJ, Albanes D, Männistö S, Jacobs EJ. Circulating Leptin and Risk of Pancreatic Cancer: A Pooled Analysis From 3 Cohorts. Am J Epidemiol. 2015;182(3):187-97.

  3. Li D, Duell EJ, Yu K, Risch HA, Olson SH, Kooperberg C, Wolpin BM, Jiao L, Dong X, Wheeler B, Arslan AA, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Fuchs CS, Gallinger S, Gross M, Hartge P, Hoover RN, Holly EA, Jacobs EJ, Klein AP, LaCroix A, Mandelson MT, Petersen G, Zheng W, Agalliu I, Albanes D, Boutron-Ruault MC, Bracci PM, Buring JE, Canzian F, Chang K, Chanock SJ, Cotterchio M, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci EL, Goggins M, Hallmans G, Hankinson SE, Hoffman Bolton JA, Hunter DJ, Hutchinson A, Jacobs KB, Jenab M, Khaw KT, Kraft P, Krogh V, Kurtz RC, McWilliams RR, Mendelsohn JB, Patel AV, Rabe KG, Riboli E, Shu XO, Tjønneland A, Tobias GS, Trichopoulos D, Virtamo J, Visvanathan K, Watters J, Yu H, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Amundadottir L, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ. Pathway analysis of genome-wide association study data highlights pancreatic development genes as susceptibility factors for pancreatic cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2012;33(7):1384-90.

  4. Arem H, Reedy J, Sampson J, Jiao L, Hollenbeck AR, Risch H, Mayne ST, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ. The Healthy Eating Index 2005 and risk for pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013;105(17):1298-305.

  5. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Schairer C, Moore S, Hollenbeck A, Silverman DT. Lifetime adiposity and risk of pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98(4):1057-65.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on April 18th, 2018