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Melissa A. Merritt, PhD

Melissa A. Merritt, PhD
  • Associate Member
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Epidemiology)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Researcher (Assistant Professor)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
    University of Hawaii at Manoa


  • PhD, Population Health
    University of Queensland, Australia

Research Focus

Dr. Merritt's research utilizes epidemiological studies to evaluate risk factors for women's cancers with a focus on gynecologic (ovarian and endometrial) cancers. Her goal is to develop better strategies for their prevention. She also hopes to improve the health of women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers by studying modifiable factors that may influence survival following a cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Merritt has led studies to investigate diet, reproductive factors, metabolic and obesity-related factors and medication use in relation to cancer risk and/or survival using data from several epidemiological cohort studies. She has also trained extensively in molecular biology and she conducts studies to evaluate the molecular mechanisms that underlie established risk factor-disease associations and mechanisms that may explain differences in disease outcomes.

One of her current research interests is to evaluate how modifiable lifestyle factors may contribute to differences in ovarian and endometrial cancer incidence and mortality rates across racial/ethnic groups using the resources available in the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study. She is also investigating how dietary factors may be associated with different body fat distribution subtypes (e.g., accumulation of abdominal fat) in the MEC Body Composition Study.

Selected Publications

  • Merritt MA, Strickler HD, Einstein MH, Yang HP, Sherman ME, Wentzensen N, Brouwer-Visser J, Cossio MJ, Whitney KD, Yu H, Gunter MJ, Huang GS. (2016). Insulin/IGF and sex hormone axes in human endometrium and associations with endometrial cancer risk factors. Cancer Causes Control; 27(6):737-48.
  • Merritt MA, Tzoulaki I, Tworoger SS, et al. (2015). Investigation of Dietary Factors and Endometrial Cancer Risk Using a Nutrient-wide Association Study Approach in the EPIC and Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and NHSII. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.; 24(2):466-71.
  • Merritt MA, Riboli E, Murphy N, Kadi M, Tjønneland A, Olsen A, … Gunter MJ. (2015. Reproductive factors and risk of mortality in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition; a cohort study. BMC Med.; 13:252.
  • Bešević J, Gunter MJ, Fortner RT, … and Merritt MA (senior author). (2015). Reproductive factors and epithelial ovarian cancer survival in the EPIC cohort study. Br J Cancer; 113(11):1622-31.
  • Merritt MA, Bentink S, Schwede M, Iwanicki MP, Quackenbush J, Woo T, Agoston ES, Reinhardt F, Crum CP, Berkowitz RS, Mok SC, Witt AE, Jones MA, Wang B, Ince TA. (2013). Gene expression signature of normal cell-of-origin predicts ovarian tumor outcomes. PLOS ONE; 8(11): e80314.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • M.A. Merritt, Co-PI; Marc Gunter, PI
    Cancer Research UK Project Grant
    "Metabolomics and Endometrial Cancer"
    01/01/16 – 12/31/19
  • M.A. Merritt, PI
    Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer
    Scientific Scholar Award
    "Obesity Related factors and Ovarian Cancer Survival"
    10/01/16 – 09/30/18