Stephanie  Schmit,  PhD

Stephanie Schmit, PhD

Department Vice Chair

Associate Staff

Lerner Research Institute, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195


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:

Genetic epidemiology

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.

Health disparities

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.

06/30/2022 |  

GMI Trainees Awarded Funding for Innovative Cancer Research

The VeloSano Trainee Dream Experiment Fellowship and Caregiver Catalyst Grant program have provided the trainees with funding to pursue their novel cancer research projects.

06/23/2022 |  

Researchers Discover Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Mortality Hot and Cold Spots

Dr. Schmit and colleagues identified geographic hot and cold spots of young-onset colorectal cancer mortality in the United States in order to highlight regions for further investigation and future preventive interventions.

05/04/2022 |  

New Research Collaborative Aims at Closing Minority Health Disparities

With a Cleveland Clinic research co-laboratories award, Drs. Schmit and Mata will establish the Cleveland Clinic Latino Epidemiology (CCLE) Cohort to help close the gap in research participation and health disparities for the Latino population.

09/24/2021 |  

Investigating the Influence of Genetic Ancestry on Colorectal Cancer Outcomes

Dr. Schmit’s team will study the role of genetic ancestry in shaping immune-related determinants of colorectal cancer outcomes.

04/06/2021 |  

Colorectal Cancer Relapse Predicted by Immune Cell Infiltration

Dr. Schmit and colleagues found that immune cell infiltration of colorectal tumors can predict disease relapse in patients who undergo surgery with curative intent.