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Herbert Yu, MD, PhD

Herbert Yu, MD, PhD, MSc

Herbert Yu
  • Program Co-Leader
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Full Member
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Epidemiology)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Researcher (Professor)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology
    Yale University School of Public Health


  • MD (Preventive Medicine), Shanghai Medical University
  • PhD (Clinical Biochemistry), University of Toronto
  • MSc (Epidemiology), University of Toronto

Research Focus

Dr. Yu is a molecular epidemiologist, and his research focuses on gene-environment interaction in cancer development and molecular changes in tumor progression and disease prognosis. Being trained both in population science and laboratory research, Dr. Yu has extensive experience in conducting epidemiological studies and clinical investigations. He has completed numerous research projects focusing on a number of cancer sites, including the breast, ovary, endometrium, liver, lung, pancreas and prostate. His research covers a wide range of topics, including dietary habit, nutrient intake, physical activity, genetic susceptibility, sex steroid hormones, mitogenic growth factors, gene-environment interaction, genotype-phenotype interplay, lifestyle influences on epigenetic regulation, and biomarkers for disease prognosis and treatment response. Recently, Dr. Yu's research addresses changes in DNA methylation in relation to tumor progression and their clinical applications. He has investigated DNA methylation in tumor suppressor genes and DNA repair genes, methylator phenotype in tumor progression, methylation pattern in regulation of alternative expression in multiple promoters, tumorigenic effects of microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, and impacts of physical activity and obesity on epigenetic regulation. He has been involved in several NIH-funded clinical and epidemiological research projects to study molecular and genetic factors in association with cancer risk and tumor progression, including genome-wide association studies. Currently, he is a principal investigator of population-cased case-control studies of hepatocellular carcinoma and endometrial cancer. He also conducts two clinical studies to investigate genetic and molecular markers in relation to clinical and pathological features of breast and ovarian cancers as well as survival outcomes of patients diagnosed with these cancers.

Selected Publications

  • Shen Y, Katsaros D, Loo L, Hernandez BY, Chong C, Canuto EM, Biglia N, Lu L, Risch HA, Chu WM, Yu H. (2015). Prognostic and predictive values of long non-coding RNA LINC00472 in breast cancer. Oncotarget, 6(11):8579-8592.
  • Shen Y, Wang Z, Loo LWM, Ni Y, Jia W, Fei P, Risch HA, Katsaros D, Yu H. (2015). Epigenetic regulation of LINC00472 expression and its association with disease-free survival in patients with grade 2 breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat, 154:473-482.
  • Cullen TW, Schofield WB, Barry NA, Putnam EE, Rundell EA, Trent MS, Degnan PH, Booth CJ, Yu H, Goodman AL. (2015). Antimicrobial peptide resistance mediates resilience of prominent gut commensals during inflammation. Science, 347(6218):170-175.
  • Gunter M, Xie X, Xue X, Kabat G, Rohan T, Wessertheil-Smoller S, Ho G, Wylie-Rosett J, Greco T, Yu H, Beasley J, Strickler H. (2015). Breast cancer risk in metabolically healthy overweight postmenopausal women. Cancer Res, 75(2):270-274.
  • Wang Z, Risch HA, Lu L, Irwin M, Mayne S, Schwartz P, Rutherford T, De Vivo I, Yu H. (2015). Joint effect of genotypic and phenotypic features of reproductive factors on endometrial cancer. Sci Rep,5:15582.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • H. Yu, Program Director, (M. Carbone, Principal Investigator)
    "University of Hawaii Cancer Center CCSG"
  • H. Yu, Principal Investigator
    "Epidemiologic Study of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the US"