Stephanie Schmit, PhD
Lerner Research Institute,
9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195
Phone: (216) 444-3173
As a cancer epidemiologist, Dr. Schmit’s transdisciplinary research studies the factors that influence colorectal cancer (CRC) across the continuum from etiology to survivorship at the population level. Combining wet and dry lab approaches, research in the Schmit lab implements integrative molecular epidemiology methods and statistical genetic approaches to better understand the roles of germline and somatic genetics, host immune responses, lifestyle factors, and environmental variables in CRC development and the modulation of disease progression and outcomes. Her research revolves around 3 major themes:
To understand the genetic contributors to both the etiology and outcomes of CRC, Dr. Schmit collaborates with consortium collaborators to identify low-penetrance susceptibility loci, build trans-racial/ethnic polygenic risk scores to inform targeted screening recommendations and study the influence of somatic genetics on CRC outcomes.
Tumor-associated immune responses
Dr. Schmit’s work and that of other groups supports that host immune responses in the tumor microenvironment influence CRC progression independent of microsatellite instability status. The Schmit lab investigates the epidemiology of these CRC-associated immune responses and the impact of immune infiltration on overall and disease-specific survival. The goal is to understand the germline genetic, epidemiologic and clinical factors that shape the strength and diversity of immune responses that differ substantially across CRCs diagnosed at the same stage and how this information can be used to improve patient outcomes.
CRC in certain racial/ethnic minority populations has been found to occur at a younger age, potentially be less responsive to therapy and have poorer prognosis after adjusting for sociodemographic factors. An important focus of the Schmit lab integrates work in the areas of genetic epidemiology and tumor-associated immune responses to better understand biological (i.e. genetic, immune-related) contributors to CRC disparities and how these factors might inform the development of interventions to improve health equity across racial/ethnic populations, with a particular focus on Hispanic/Latino populations. The Schmit lab serves as the coordinating center for the Latino Colorectal Cancer Consortium, drawing Hispanic/Latino participants from multiple contributing studies across the nation.
A research team led by Stephanie Schmit, PhD, MPH, Genomic Medicine Institute, has found that immune cell infiltration of colorectal cancer (CRC) tumors can predict disease relapse in patients who undergo surgery with curative intent. Published in OncoImmunology, the findings may help lead to more targeted post-operative surveillance strategies, which ultimately would improve prognosis for CRC patients at high risk for relapse.