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Personal profile

Research Interests

Lifang Hou, MD, MS, PhD is a Professor of Preventive Medicine. With a multidisciplinary background in medicine, basic science, and epidemiology, Dr. Hou’s research interest lies in integrating traditional epidemiologic methods with the ever-advancing molecular techniques in multi-disciplinary research focusing on identifying key molecular markers and understanding their potential impact on disease etiology, detection, and prevention. Dr. Hou’s major research efforts to date have focused on two areas: 1) identification of risk factors that may cause chronic diseases; and 2) identification of biomarkers that serve as indicators of an individual’s past exposure to disease risk factors and/or predict future disease risks and/or prognosis. The environmental/lifestyle risk factors that Dr. Hou has studied include air pollution, pesticides, overweight, physical inactivity, and reproductive factors in relation to chronic diseases. The biomarkers that Dr. Hou has investigated include genetic factors (i.e., polymorphisms, telomere length shortening, mitochondria DNA copy number variations); and epigenetic factors (i.e., DNA methylation, histone modifications, and microRNA profiling). Her over-arching research goal is to understand the biological mechanisms linking environmental risk factors with subclinical or clinical disease development, which ultimately lead to development of effective strategies for prevention of chronic diseases. In addition to being a PI of several NIH funded grants, Dr. Hou is the co-director and Co-PI of the Northwestern Consortium for Early Phase Cancer Prevention Trials of the Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) Consortia, National Cancer Institute (http://prevention.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/management/consortia).

Education/Academic qualification

MD, PhD, University of Tsukuba, Japan

… → 2001


  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Environmental Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Digestive Cancer (esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum)

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DNA Methylation Medicine & Life Sciences
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Neoplasms Medicine & Life Sciences
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Particulate Matter Medicine & Life Sciences

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Grants 2001 2023

Research Output 2000 2019

Association of clinical outcomes in metastatic breast cancer patients with circulating tumour cell and circulating cell-free DNA

Ye, Z., Wang, C., Wan, S., Mu, Z., Zhang, Z., Abu-Khalaf, M. M., Fellin, F. M., Silver, D. P., Neupane, M., Jaslow, R. J., Bhattacharya, S., Tsangaris, T. N., Chervoneva, I., Berger, A., Austin, L., Palazzo, J. P., Myers, R. E., Pancholy, N., Toorkey, D., Yao, K. & 10 othersKrall, M., Li, X., Chen, X., Fu, X., Xing, J., Hou, L., Wei, Q., Li, B., Cristofanilli, M. & Yang, H., Jan 1 2019, In : European Journal of Cancer. 106, p. 133-143 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Circulating Neoplastic Cells
Breast Neoplasms
Disease-Free Survival
2 Citations (Scopus)

DNA methylation GrimAge strongly predicts lifespan and healthspan

Lu, A. T., Quach, A., Wilson, J. G., Reiner, A. P., Aviv, A., Raj, K., Hou, L., Baccarelli, A. A., Li, Y., Stewart, J. D., Whitsel, E. A., Assimes, T. L., Ferrucci, L. & Horvath, S., Jan 1 2019, In : Aging. 11, 2, p. 303-327 25 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DNA Methylation
Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1

Impacts of air pollution, temperature, and relative humidity on leukocyte distribution: An epigenetic perspective

Gao, X., Colicino, E., Shen, J., Kioumourtzoglou, M. A., Just, A. C., Nwanaji-Enwerem, J. C., Coull, B., Lin, X., Vokonas, P., Zheng, Y., Hou, L., Schwartz, J. & Baccarelli, A. A., May 1 2019, In : Environment International. p. 395-405 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
relative humidity
atmospheric pollution
pollution exposure

Lactation intensity and duration to postpartum diabetes and prediabetes risk in women with gestational diabetes

Shen, Y., Leng, J., Li, W., Zhang, S., Liu, H., Shao, P., Wang, P., Wang, L., Tian, H., Zhang, C., Yang, X., Yu, Z., Hou, L., Tuomilehto, J. & Hu, G., Jan 1 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews. e3115.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Prediabetic State
Gestational Diabetes
Postpartum Period
Glucose Tolerance Test
1 Citation (Scopus)

Predictors of urinary phthalate biomarker concentrations in postmenopausal women

Reeves, K. W., Santana, M. D., Manson, J. A. E., Hankinson, S. E., Zoeller, R. T., Bigelow, C., Hou, L., Wactawski-Wende, J., Liu, S., Tinker, L. & Calafat, A. M., Feb 1 2019, In : Environmental Research. p. 122-130 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle