Sara Olson, PhD

Associate Attending Epidemiologist

Sara Olson, PhD

Office Phone



Columbia University

Current Research Interests

Dr. Olson’s interests are in environmental and genetic risk factors for cancer, particularly endometrial and pancreatic cancers and glioma. Dr. Olson is a founder and leader of the NCI-supported Epidemiology of Endometrial Cancer Consortium (E2C2).  Her completed population-based study of Estrogen, Diet, Genetics and Endometrial Cancer is a contributor to E2C2 analyses, which include a recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies and pooled analyses of the association of breast feeding with risk associated with diabetes and hypertension.  Recent NCI-sponsored meetings of the consortium identified the large disparity in outcomes between black and white women as a critical question to investigate.  As a result, she is planning a study of epidemiologic risk factors and tumor characteristics to address this question.  MSK’s Familial Pancreatic Tumor Registry, led by Dr. Robert Kurtz and Dr. Olson, continues to enroll patients with familial pancreatic cancer or with intraductal papillary mucinous lesions (IPMNs) and to conduct follow-up and surveillance of at-risk unaffected relatives.  She recently completed a pilot study of the oral microbiome in patients with pancreatic cancer, patients with IPMNs, and controls. Some differences in the prevalence of taxa were observed that need to be replicated in other studies.  She is currently studying the association of allergies with survival and evaluating the surveillance program in relatives.   Dr. Olson is an elected member of the Steering Committee of the Pancreatic Cancer Case-Control Consortium (PanC4) and is a collaborator in ongoing epidemiologic and genetic studies within PanC4.  In glioma, MSK is a member of the GLIOGENE consortium, which studies the familial risk of glioma, and the Glioma International Case-Control Study, a large study of genetic and lifestyle risk factors for glioma.  With funding from the Population Sciences Research Program, she undertook a pilot study to develop preliminary data on obtaining and conducting genomic analyses of tumor tissue. These data were used for NCI grant applications to study germline and somatic alterations and outcomes.


Selected peer-reviewed publications:

  1. Olson SH, Satagopan J, Xu Y, Ling L, Leong S, Orlow I, Saldia A, Li P, Nunes P, Madonia V, Allen PJ, O’Reilly EM, Pamer E, Kurtz, RC. The oral microbiota in patients with pancreatic cancer, patients with IPMNs, and healthy controls – a pilot study. Cancer Causes Control 28(9), 959-69. PMID: 28762074

  2. Chen MM, Crous-Bou M, Setiawan VW, Prescott J, Olson SH, Wentzensen N, Black A, Brinton L, Chen C, Cook LS, Doherty J, Friedenreich CM, Hankinson SE, Hartge P, Henderson BE, Hunter DJ, Le Marchand L, Liang X, Lissowska J, Lu L, Orlow I, Petruzella S, Polidoro S, Pooler L, Rebbeck TR, Risch H, Sacerdote C, Schumacher F, Sheng X, Shu XO, Weiss NS, Xia L, Van Den Berg D, Yang HP, Yu H, Chanock S, Haiman C, Kraft P, De Vivo I. Exome-wide study of endometrial cancer in a multiethnic population. PLoS One. 2014 May 8;9(5):e97045. PMCID: PMC4014590.

  3. Olson SH, Hsu M, Wiemels JL, Bracci PM, Zhou M, Patoka J, Reisacher WI, Wang J, Kurtz RC, Silverman DT, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ. Serum IgE and risk of pancreatic cancer in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO). Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Apr 9. PMID: 24718282. PMC4120187.

  4. Olson SH, Hsu M, Satagopan JM, Maisonneuve P, Silverman DT, Lucenteforte E, Anderson KE,  Borgida A, Bracci PM, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Cotterchio M, Dai Q, Duell EJ, Fontham EH, Gallinger S, Holly EA, Ji B-T, Kurtz RC, La Vecchia C, Lowenfels AB, Luckett B, Ludwig E, Petersen GM, Polesel J, Seminara D, Strayer L, Talamini R, Pancreatic Cancer Case-Control Consortium (PanC4). Allergies and risk of pancreatic cancer: a pooled analysis from the Pancreatic Cancer Case-Control Consortium (PanC4). Amer J Epidemiol 2013; 178:691-700. PMCID: PMC3755648.

  5. Olson SH, Atoria CL, Cote ML, Cook LS, Rastogi R, Soslow RA, Brown CL, Elkin EB.  The impact of race and comorbidity on survival in endometrial cancer.  Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2012; 21:753-760. PMID:22426148

For a complete list of publications: