Dr. Ellen Velie Named UWM Professor of Public Health and MCW Joan A. Van Deuren Professor in Breast Cancer Research

Noted cancer researcher Ellen Velie, PhD, MPH, has been named to a joint appointment between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). Dr. Velie’s primary appointment will be UWM’s Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health as professor of epidemiology. At MCW, she will serve as the Joan A. Van Deuren Professor in Breast Cancer Research.  In addition, she will hold a faculty appointment as professor of medicine and professor of pathology at MCW.

“Our joint recruitment of a top public health scientist in women’s health and breast cancer research demonstrates the growing power of collaboration between MCW and UWM,” said Zilber School of Public Health Founding Dean Magda Peck. 

“This type of collaboration allows both institutions to leverage our strengths, and shows our commitment to collaboration, and to bettering the health of our communities,” said Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, Executive Vice President of MCW and the Dean of the medical school.

Dr. Velie is a nutritional and cancer epidemiologist with a particular interest in the health of disadvantaged populations.  Her current research focuses on early life energy balance factors (e.g. nutrition and childhood growth), social factors and breast cancer in young women; she is particularly interested in the corollaries between energy balance factors and breast cancer risk in young African American and White women from socioeconomically diverse communities. The $14 million study is funded by the National Cancer Institute. This builds on her previous exploration of the relationships between nutritional factors, such as dietary patterns, and birth defects and breast cancer.  She also has studied methodological issues related to nutritional epidemiology. 

Dr. Velie is currently an associate professor of epidemiology in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University.  She has authored numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and has been an invited speaker at national conferences.  She recently served on a study section for the National Cancer Institute evaluating cancer epidemiology prevention and population studies.

Dr. Velie received a master in public health degree in 1990 and a doctoral degree in epidemiology in 1997, both from the University of California, Berkeley.  She completed postdoctoral training through the Cancer Prevention Fellowship in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch at the National Cancer Institute. In Michigan she received a five-year career award from the National Cancer Institute, in addition to other funding that has led to her current research efforts.

The Joan A. Van Deuren Chair in Breast Cancer Research at MCW was established in 2000 by Richard A. Van Deuren in honor of his wife, who died of breast cancer in 1998.  A matching gift from the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Family Foundation completed the endowment of the professorship.

The MCW Cancer Center is the only academic-based cancer research and patient care group in southeastern Wisconsin.  Its mission is to uncover the causes of cancer through scientific research, and to translate that knowledge into effective treatment of cancer patients, and to reduce cancer disparities in our communities.  The center is comprised of more than 200 physicians and scientists from MCW, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Zablocki VA Medical Center, and BloodCenter of Wisconsin.

Dr. Velie is the eighth new faculty member to join UWM’s new Zilber School of Public health since August 2013, bringing to 25 the total number of top tier prevention and population health scientists and educators recruited to UWM.

The Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health is the only comprehensive public health school in Wisconsin.  Founded in 2009 as the newest public health school in the nation, the Zilber School conducts rigorous public health research and scholarship; educates the current and future public health workforce; and influences the development of strategies and policies that promote health among diverse populations.  Faculty members are leading emerging research programs that address public health and health equity from the molecular to the societal levels.

Dr. Velie’s appointment is effective February 1, 2014.

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