Meir Stampfer is a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where his research is concerned with the etiology of chronic diseases, with a particular focus on identifying links between dietary factors and biomarkers for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Stampfer is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Stampfer has been the Principal Investigator of the Nurses’ Health Study since 2011 and is a founding co-investigator of the Nurses’ Health Study II, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, and the Physician’s Health Studies I and II. In each of these large prospective cohort studies, participants are surveyed every two years to gather information on diet, smoking, physical activity, medications, health screening behavior, and other variables. In addition, Stampfer leads several other NIH-funded projects and is Principal Investigator of two NIH training programs that support predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
Stampfer’s discovery that increased expression of insulin-like growth factor in the blood could predict elevated risk of prostate cancer is thought to have launched a major new field of epidemiologic investigation. Equally, his work that identified the utility of prostate-specific antigen for cancer screening has transformed the field and is considered a landmark study in the prostate cancer field. He has also developed new biomarkers for prostate cancer prognoses in blood and tumor tissue. Stampfer helped establish the hypothesis that lethal, and the far more common, indolent prostate cancer has different causes and has provided insight into the effects of PSA screening on epidemiologic research in the area.
"The PSA test is a simple blood test. It provides information that is reliable, but it doesn't automatically trigger an inexorable set of steps leading to surgery or radiation," he said in an interview with Medscape on prostate cancer diagnosis rates. "So by not having the PSA test, basically you are throwing away the potential for information, which always seems like a bad idea."
Stampfer is the recipient of the American Association for Cancer Research’s American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention (2017). He also sits on the council of the global non-profit True Health Initiative.