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Dr. Figueroa is a molecular epidemiologist and Chancellor’s Fellow, with joint appointment at the Usher Institute and the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM), Cancer Research (CR) UK Edinburgh Centre. She joined the Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence in 2018 providing key input on data science studies within the team. In 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic, she became Honorary Senior Analyst, National Health Services (NHS) Lothian, Cancer Informatics team, providing epidemiologic expertise to inform how data could help cancer services and recovery activities.

She received her PhD in molecular genetics from the State University of New York, Stony Brook and her Master's in Public Health from Columbia University. After postdoctoral training in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) at the National Cancer Insititute (NCI, USA), she was promoted to Investigator and was a fully funded independent researcher at DCEG-NCI from 2008 till 2015 before moving to Edinburgh.

Current Research Interests

As a cancer epidemiologist with over 15 years’ experience, I have led and currently lead large-scale international field studies, including in Africa, Europe, the US and international consortia. A key area of research is the incorporation of innovative technologies to epidemiology studies to provide new insights on cancer risk factors, early detection, treatment and prognosis.

Cancer data science studies using routinely collected health records

The UK is renowned for its collection of electronic health records. Building off my extensive experience in interdisciplinary molecular epidemiology research using collections of tissues (normal, benign, and tumour), current research is focused on harnessing the rich collections of routinely collected tumour tissue data in in the UK to provide improved insights on incidence and mortality. Linkage studies using electronic medical records with biomarker/imaging data could improve early detection, prevention, screening, and treatment of cancers, which are heterogeneous in their natural history and prognosis. Leveraging my over decade’s expertise in the conduct and design of epidemiology and molecular pathology studies, we are building the next generation of cancer datasets to provide real world evidence for informed clinical decision with global impact.  

Molecular epidemiology research to further our understanding of cancer in Africa

Incidence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)--which include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer-- are increasing in Africa and according to the World Health Organization NCDs are set to become the leading causes of mortality in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030There is a dearth of knowledge on molecular determinants of cancer in African populations. Our research is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of cancer incidence and mortality in Africa to provide new insights for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

 Our objectives

  • To form a community of multidisciplinary investigators that exchanges knowledge, builds capacity for molecular epidemiology, data science and translational/clinical research in Africa
  • To build capacity and increase the number of cancer molecular epidemiology research studies to further our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of cancer in Africa 
  • Inform cancer control and treatment programs, engage key stakeholders (e.g. physicians, ministry of health, policy makers), to prioritize the key areas needed for long term planning to enhance capacity to tackle the increasing burden



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