Patricia Ann Cassano
Patricia Ann Cassano
Division Director; the Alan D. Mathios Professor in the College of Human Ecology
Division of Nutritional Sciences

127 Savage Hall


Patricia A. Cassano, MPH, Ph.D., is Professor and Director, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Director of Graduate Studies for the Minor Field of Epidemiology in the Cornell University Graduate School. Dr. Cassano is also the Alan D. Mathios Professor in the College of Human Ecology (CHE).

Dr. Cassano is an epidemiologist with interests in nutrition and genetics; she has specialized expertise in the etiology of respiratory diseases.  Dr. Cassano has methodological expertise in the design, conduct and analysis of analytical epidemiological studies, including long-term prospective cohort studies  incorporating biological markers of nutrition and metabolism and molecular markers of genetic variation.

Dr. Cassano is a member of a consortium of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to investigate the relation of genetic variation to pulmonary phenotypes. She is multi-PI of recently completed NIH-funded study of gene x nutrient interactions in relation to pulmonary function phenotypes (with Dr Dana Hancock, RTI). This work is leading to new discoveries of genetic variants that interact with nutrition, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, to influence lung function.

Dr. Cassano led the EnHANCE Pilot Study of Cornell freshmen, which identified a biological marker (erythritol) of gain in adiposity in the transition from home to college.

Dr. Cassano led the Respiratory Ancillary Study to the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). This randomized trial found that  supplementation with selenium attenuated the decline in lung function in cigarette smokers. Further studies are underway to define the genetic contribution to response to vitamin E supplementation, and to study whether benefit from the intervention was modified by genetic traits. 

Dr. Cassano's research program is funded by NIH. Research is conducted is in the context of graduate student training and in collaboration with post-doctoral researchers. Dr. Cassano teaches the foundation course in Epidemiology for graduate students on both campuses, including the Graduate School of Cornell University and the Weill Cornell Medical College Translational Science program in Clinical Investigation. She is lead instructor for two team-taught courses, one on grant writing and the other on Translational Research and Evidence-based Policy and Practice in Nutrition. 

Dr. Cassano directs the WHO/Cochrane/Cornell Summer Institute on Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making, which is a collaborative effort among the World Health Organization, Cochrane and the Division of Nutritional Sciences. This Institute, which is in its sixth year, trains about 30 participants from around the world each summer during an intensive two-week training, and includes faculty from WHO, Cochrane and Cornell. 

  1. GWAS of plasma change in vitamin E in response to vitamin E supplementation: 
  • data from our large, randomized trial of nutrition interventions (supplemental vitamin E [400 mg daily] and/or selenium [200 ug daily]) in relation to pulmonary function decline (3000 men) and risk of COPD and/or asthma (~35,000 men); 
  • collaborators SELECT study, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  1. Gene x nutrient studies of pulmonary function phenotypes within the CHARGE consortium, under the auspices of NIH R21 funded project (Mulit PIs PA Cassano and D Hancock (RTI)):
  • genome-wide x nutrient interaction studies of serum vitamin D, plasma omega 3 fatty acids, dietary omega 3 fatty acids, and dietary pattern in relation to cross-sectional pulmonary phenotypes
  1. Mendelian Randomization studies to investigate the causality of the observational findings from the studies in #2 above, including cross-sectional association of serum vitamin D and lung function and cross-sectional association of plasma omega 3 fatty acids and lung function
  2. Systematic reviews of nutrient--disease associations including: 
  • vitamin D and asthma and psoriasis risk
  • folate interventions for arsenic exposed populations
  • food-based calcium and vitamin D for post-menopausal women in prevention of bone outcomes
  • B-vitamins in the treatment of sickle cell disease

Selected Publications from 2011 to present: 

  1. SM Wernimont, F Raiszadeh, PJ Stover, EB Rimm, DJ Hunter, W Tang, and PA Cassano(2011). Polymorphisms in Serine Hydroxymethyltransferase 1 and Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase Interact to Increase Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Humans. Journal of Nutrition, 141(2):255-60. PMCID: PMC3021444
  2. AH Agler, T Kurth, JM Gaziano, JE Buring and PA Cassano(2011) Randomized Vitamin E Supplementation and Risk of Chronic Lung Disease (CLD) in the Women’s Health Study. Thorax, 66(4):320-5. PMCID: PMC3062677
  3. AH Agler, RG Crystal, J Mezey and PA Cassano. Differential Expression of Vitamin E and Selenium-Responsive Genes by Disease Severity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (2013). COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease10(4):450-8 (doi: 10.3109/15412555.2012.761958). PMCID PMC4060420.
  4. W Tang, AR Bentley, SB Kritchevsky, TB Harris, AB Newman, DC Bauer, B Meibohm and PA Cassano for the Health ABC Study (2013). Genetic Variation in Antioxidant Enzymes, Cigarette Smoking and Longitudinal Change in Lung Function. Free Radical Biology and Medicine63:304-12 (doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2013.05.016. Epub 2013 May 17). PMCID: PMC4060265
  5. BJ Reardon* and JF Hansen* (*both first authors contributed equally to this work), RG Crystal, DK Houston, SB Kritchevsky, TB Harris, K Lohman, Y Liu, GT O’Connor, JB Wilk, J Mezey, C Gao and PA Cassano. Vitamin D-Responsive Gene SGPP2 Associated with Pulmonary Function and Expression in Lung Tissue (2013). BMC Medical Genetics.2013, 14:122. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2350-14-122
  6. W Tang*, M Kowgier*, DW Loth*, M Soler Artigas*, BR Joubert*, E Hodge*, SA Gharib*, AV Smith, I Ruczinski, V Gudnason, RA Mathias, TB Harris, NN Hansel, LJ Launer, KC Barnes, JG Hansen, E Albrecht, MC Aldrich, M Allerhand, RG Barr, GG Brusselle, DJ Couper, I Curjuric, G Davies, IJ  Deary, J Dupuis, T Fall, M Foy, N Franceschini, W Gao, S Gläser, X Gu, DB Hancock, J Heinrich, A Hofman, M Imboden, E Ingelsson, A James, S Karrasch, B Koch, SB Kritchevsky, A Kumar, L Lahousse, G Li, L Lind, C Lindgren, Y Liu, K Lohman, T Lumley, WL McArdle, B Meibohm, AP Morris, AC Morrison, B Musk, KE North, LJ Palmer, NM Probst-Hensch, BM Psaty, F Rivadeneira, JI Rotter, H Schulz, LJ Smith, A Sood,  JM Starr, DP Strachan, A Teumer, AG Uitterlinden, H Völzke, A Voorman, LV Wain, MT Wells, JB Wilk, OD Williams, SR Heckbert, BH Stricker, SJ London, M Fornage**, MD Tobin**, GT O’Connor**, IP Hall**, PA Cassano**(2014). Large-Scale Genome-Wide Association Studies and Meta-Analyses of Longitudinal Change in Adult Lung Function. *These authors contributed equally to this work.  **These authors jointly directed the work. [W Tang graduate student of PA Cassano, and PA Cassano jointly developed all ideas, designed the analysis, completed the meta-analysis and led the work for this collaborative consortium paper] PLoS One. 2014 Jul 1;9(7):e100776. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100776. eCollection 2014.PMCID: PMC4077649
  7. PA Cassano, K A. Guertin, A R. Kristal, K B. Arnold, JJ Crowley, J Hartline, PJ Goodman, CM Tangen, LM Minasian, SM Lippman, and E Klein (2015). Effect of Vitamin E And Selenium On Rate of Decline In FEV1: The Respiratory Ancillary Study To The Selenium And Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT).  Respiratory Research, 16: 35.PMCID: PMC4404242
  8. JG Hansen, W Gao, J Dupuis, GT O’Connor, W Tang, M Kowgier, A Sood, S Gharib, L Palmer, M Fornage, S Heckbert, B Psaty, SUNLIGHT, and PA Cassano (2015).25-Hydroxyvitamin D Status and Genetic Variation in the Vitamin D Metabolic Pathway in Association with FEV1in the Framingham Heart Study. Respiratory Research, Jul 1;16:81. doi: 10.1186/s12931-015-0238-y. PMID: 26122139
  9. KA Guertin, RK Grant, KB Arnold, JA Hartline, PJ Goodman, CM Tangen, LM Minasian, SM Lippman, E Klein, PA Cassano (2016). Effect of Vitamin E and Selenium on F2-Isoprostanes, a Biomarker of Oxidative Stress (2016). Free Radical Biology and Medicine Mar 22; 95:349-356.
  10. Hootman KC, Guertin KA, Cassano PA (2017). Longitudinal Changes in Anthropometry and Body Composition in University Freshmen. Journal of American college health; 65(4):268-276. PubMed PMID: 28085641.
  11. KC Hootman*, JP Trezzi*, L Kraemer, LS Burwell, X Dong, KA Guertin, C Jaeger, PJ Stover, K Hiller** and PA Cassano**(2017). Metabolomic Marker Erythritol Associated with Central Adiposity Gain in Young Adults as a Pentose-Phosphate-Pathway By-Product. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017; 114(21):E4233-E4240. *equal contributions as first authors; **equal contributions as senior authors
  12. Bae S, Kamynina E, Farinola AF, Caudill MA, Stover PJ, Cassano PA, Berry R, Peña-Rosas JP. Provision of folic acid for reducing arsenic toxicity in arsenic-exposed children and adults (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD012649. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012649.
  13. J Xu, TM Bartz; G Chittoor, G Eiriksdottir, AW Manichaikul, F Sun, N Terzikhan, X Zhou, SL Booth, GG Brusselle, IH de Boer, M Fornage, AC Frazier-Wood, M Graff, V Gudnason, TB Harris, A Hofman, R Hou, DK Houston, DR Jacobs, Jr., SB Kritchevsky, J Latourelle, RN Lemaitre, PL Lutsey, G O’Connor, EC Oelsner, JS Pankow, BM Psaty, RR Rohde, SS Rich, JI Rotter, LJ Smith, BH Stricker, VS Voruganti, TJ Wang, MC Zillikens, RG Barr, J Dupuis, SA Gharib, L Lahousse, SJ London, KE North, AV Smith, LM Steffen, DB Hancock*, PA Cassano*. Large-Scale Meta-Analysis Provides Evidence for an Association of Serum Vitamin D with Pulmonary Function (2018). British Journal of Nutrition 2018 Nov;120(10):1159-1170.
  14. J Xu, NC Gaddis, TM Bartz; R Hou, AW Manichaikul, N Pankratz, AV Smith, F Sun, N Terzikhan, CA Markunas, BK Patchen, M Schu, MA Beydoun, GG Brusselle, G Eiriksdottir, X Zhou, AC Frazier-Wood, M Graff, TB Harris, MA Ikram, DR Jacobs, Jr., LJ Launer, RN Lemaitre, G O’Connor, EC Oelsner, BM Psaty, VS Ramachandran, RR Rohde, SS Rich, SJ Robins, JI Rotter, S Seshadri, LJ Smith, H Tiemeier, MY Tsai, AG Uitterlinden, VS Voruganti, M Fornage, MC Zillikens, SJ London, RG Barr, J Dupuis, SA Gharib, V Gudnason, L Lahousse, KE North, LM Steffen, PA Cassano*, DB Hancock*. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Genome-wide Interaction Analyses Reveal DPP10-Pulmonary Function Association (2019). American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2018 Sep 10. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201802-0304OC. [Epub ahead of print].

Dr. Cassano directs the WHO/Cochrane/Cornell University Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making. This 2 week summer institute, which is held on the Cornell campus, attracts about 25-30 participants from around the world for training in evidence-based approaches to nutrition policy. 2018 is the 5th annual offering of the Institute.  

Cornell University Graduate Field Membership: Nutrition; Epidemiology

2016- Member, Weill Cornell Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science Center Education Advisory Board

2016- Member, Cochrane Nutrition Field Advisory Board

Dr. Cassano is a member of: 

  • Society for Epidemiologic Research, since 1981
  • American Public Health Association, since 1988
  • American Thoracic Society, since 2000
  • American Society for Nutritional Sciences, since 2002

Dr. Cassano teaches a graduate course in Epidemiology, co-teaches a graduate course on Translational Research and Evidence-based Policy and Practice in Nutrition, and leads a graduate course in grant-writing. In addition, she directs the annual WHO/Cochrane/Cornell University Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making. Dr. Cassano advises PhD students as well as undergraduates majoring in Human Biology Health and Society and Nutritional Sciences, including students in the College of Human Ecology and students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  

NS 6520 : Epidemiology Foundations (also offered concurrently at Weill Cornell Medical College through the Clinical and Translational Science Center)

NS6200 : Translational Research and Evidence-based Policy and Practice in Nutrition

NS7030 : Grant Writing

1987, Ph.D., Epidemiology, University of Washington

1980, M.P.H., Epidemiology, Columbia University

1976, A.B. , Biological Sciences, Mt. Holyoke College

Director, Division of Nutritional Sciences

Director of Graduate Studies, Minor Field of Epidemiology

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