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The Friedman School pursues cutting-edge research and education from cell to society, including in molecular nutrition, human metabolism, population studies, clinical trials, nutrition interventions and behavior change, communication, food systems and sustainability, global food insecurity, humanitarian crises, and food economics and policy.
Chair of the Division of Nutrition Epidemiology and Data Science
Dr. Zhang is a cancer epidemiologist with experience in conducting population-based studies to investigate the role of nutrition in cancer prevention and control. She has worked with colleagues from Columbia University and NIH to evaluate gene-environment interactions in association with cancer risk. Support by the Susan G. Komen Foundation, she studied energy balance and breast cancer risk in sisters enrolled in the Breast Cancer Family Registry, a NCI-funded international family registry for breast cancer.
After joining Tufts University, She has expanded her research to nutrition and cancer survivorship. In the past few years, she has led pioneer studies investigating patterns of weight gain during and after cancer treatment and associated risk factors such as dietary intake and levels of energy expenditure in pediatric survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common cancer diagnosed in children. An interdisciplinary team lead by Dr. Zhang has recently completed the development of a web- and mobile-based nutrition intervention program to help parents transition family into healthy eating and active living as soon as the child completes early stage of cancer treatment.
With funding from NIH, she is currently collaborating with colleagues at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to evaluate dietary intake in adult survivors of childhood cancer and its associations with treatment exposure, chronic health conditions, and quality of life. Following her recent study that identified adult cancer survivors in the US have poor diet quality, she is leading a PCORI project to build partnerships with key stakeholders in leading about the complex web of factors that influence the dietary intake patterns of cancer survivors.
The optimal strategies to improve diet and reduce cancer are not clear. While various individual-level behavior change approaches can be effective for some people, overall benefits and long-term adherence may be modest and overall benefits poorly sustained. In contrast, population strategies can be more powerful and achieve broader impact. Supported by NIH, Dr. Zhang is leading a multidisciplinary R01 project to evaluate the effectiveness, cost, and cost-effectiveness of population-based dietary interventions at the national level on cancer outcomes in the US.
Dr. Zhang received her PhD with distinction in Epidemiology from Columbia University. She directs the course on epidemiology methods for graduate students at Friedman School and School of Medicine and is a recipient of the Eileen O'Neil Citation for Excellence in Teaching. She is also the inaugural recipient of the Miriam E. Nelson Tisch Faculty Fellow from Tufts University.
Current Research Projects:
Nutrition Intake in Cancer Survivors: After cancer, survivors do not choose healthy foods: What's going on? Read the LA Times article.
Obesity in Childhood Cancer Survivors: After pediatric cancer young survivors face yet another battle: obesity. Read more at Tufts Now. (PI: Fang Fang Zhang, funded by Tufts CTSI and Boston Nutrition and Obesity Research Center)