Mimi C. Yu spends her days illuminating potential causes of cancer; now her peers are shining the spotlight on her.
Yu, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has received the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) Special Recognition Award in appreciation for her many contributions to the field.
A USC investigator since 1978, Yu has steadily built a body of research focused on identifying lifestyle and environmental causes of cancer and how genetic factors modify the level of risk in exposed individuals.
From her base at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Yu has conducted extensive studies on diet and cancer, viral hepatitis and other risk factors in liver cancer, analgesics and other risk factors in kidney cancer, and arylamine exposure in bladder cancer.
Yu is principal investigator for the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which comprises more than 63,000 men and women ages 45-74 in Singapore.
The prospective study has greatly advanced what is known about dietary and lifestyle factors and their interaction with genetic factors important to the development or deterrence of cancer.
But Yu also has served the international community of cancer researchers in other ways. During the 1980s and 1990s, she served three terms on the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises the institute on its future research directions and evaluates the progress of programs within the institute.
Yu chaired the advisory group for the institute’s Breast Implant Study, a long-term follow-up of 13,500 women who received silicone breast implants.
She also chaired the data safety monitoring board for the Shandong Intervention Trial, a study to determine if certain vitamins and minerals and garlic could delay the progression of precancerous gastric lesions in people in the Chinese province of Shandong. Gastric cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in China.
According to the DCEG, Yu’s “expertise and dedication were crucial to ensuring that these studies were conducted according to the highest standards.”
Yu also continues to chair the advisory committee for the ongoing Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project.
The National Cancer Institute previously honored Yu with its Outstanding Investigator Award. The Special Recognition Award was announced at the Board of Scientific Counselors meeting in July.