Jeannette Bensen

Dr. Bensen showing materials highlighting the UNC Health Registry.

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Research Associate Professor, Epidemiology



Dr. Bensen’s interests focus on the effect that genes and environment have on risk, severity and progression of prostate and breast cancer, as well as birth defects. Read More

Within molecular genetic epidemiology, her focuses include: inflammation, gene structure-function, haplotype, admixture, and genome-wide association and gene-environment interaction analyses.  She has experience working with biologic specimens in the laboratory, counseling patients for genetic diseases, and designing and developing population and hospital-based research studies.

Dr. Bensen is the Co-Director of the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project (PCaP), a Department of Defense-funded consortium study of risk factors that may explain disparity in prostate cancer between African and European American men in North Carolina and Louisiana. This interdisciplinary, population-based, case-only study is comprised of over 1,000 African and 1,000 European American men. It addresses racial differences in prostate cancer through a comprehensive evaluation of social, individual, and tumor level influences on prostate cancer aggressiveness. PCaP consortium projects are focused on (1) racial differences in health care access and utilization, (2) patient-level factors such as diet, genetics and other environmental exposures, and (3) tumor biology, including androgen regulation. PCaP has generated a significant high-quality archive of data and biological specimens from a well-described cohort of prostate cancer cases.  To maximize the use of this valuable scientific resource, the PCaP Consortium actively encourages outside investigators to submit proposals to use PCaP samples and data for ancillary research. She also leads the PCaP follow-up study that follows PCaP subjects after their prostate cancer diagnosis to understand the relationship between their cancer treatment and their quality of life.

Dr. Bensen leads the ongoing University Cancer Research Fund (UCRF)-supported UNC Health Registry/Cancer Survivorship Cohort, established to facilitate research on cancer survivorship. This large hospital-based registry is enrolling 10,000 cancer survivors and integrates a comprehensive database of clinical, epidemiological and interview data, with repositories of biologic specimens and tumor tissue. Dr. Bensen also is lead of a related UNC-SAS partnership project to develop a Health Outcomes Analytic (HOA) tool.  This project is focused on standardizing the clinical medical record in a common ontology, text mining and integrating this clinic data with research data and biospecimens collected on participants in the Cancer Survivorship Cohort.  This clinical and research data is housed in a secure medical workspace where existing and novel analytic tools will facilitate rapid investigation of factors that influence cancer outcomes.

Additionally, Dr. Bensen is co-investigator on a second UCRF funded study: the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, a population-based study of environmental and genetic risk factors that influence breast cancer incidence and survival among African and European American women in North Carolina. See:

Active Projects

  • UNC Health Registry/Cancer Survivorship Cohort (supported by UCRF – state legislature)
  • NC-LA Prostate Cancer Project (PCaP)
  • Health Care Access and Prostate Cancer Treatment in North Carolina: HCaP-NC
  • Epidemiology of Breast Cancer Subtypes in African-American Women: a Consortium
  • Genetic variations in mitochondria and prostate cancer aggressiveness and progression in Caucasian and African American men
  • Vitamin D and Related Genes, Race and Prostate Cancer


United States



UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Campus Box 7295
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599