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Kala Visvanathan, MD

  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

  • Epidemiology (Primary)
    • Division: Cancer Epidemiology
  • School of Medicine (Joint)

Center & Institute Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E6142
Baltimore, Maryland 21205

410 614 2632

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MHS, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 1998
FRACP, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 1996
MD, University of Sydney, 1989


Dr. Visvanathan is both a medical oncologist and a translational epidemiologist focused on reducing the incidence, morbidity and mortality associated with breast and ovarian cancer in all women. Dr. Visvanathan is Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Track, in the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics and Prevention Service at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in the School of Medicine. She is also a senior member of the Women's Malignancy Program and Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Dr. Visvanathan and her team conduct observational studies in well-annotated cohorts and in administrative databases including EMR as well as clinical trials to address knowledge gaps across the cancer continuum. Her research interests include: 1) improving risk stratification through the identification of novel risk factors/biomarkers. This includes evaluating inflammatory markers, genetic and epigenetic alterations, lifestyle factors, and coexistent chronic diseases. 2) identification of early biological changes associated with disease progression, 3) evaluation of various strategies to improve health outcomes in breast cancer survivors 4) evaluation of prevention and early-detection strategies in both the general population and at-risk groups (i.e genetic susceptibility).

Recently she has become focused on developing strategies to reduce existing disparities with respect to breast and ovarian cancer prevention and treatment.

Dr. Visvanathan is an active member of multiple national research groups including the NCI Cohort Consortium, ECOG Breast Committee, and NRG co-operative trials Prev/Epi/Beh Committee. Dr. Visvanathan has thrice co-chaired a national guideline on breast cancer prevention and is currently on the NCCN Genetic/Familial guideline Dr. Visvanathan has previously served on the Maryland State Cancer Council and chaired the Advisory Board of the Maryland Cancer Registry.

Honors and Awards

1999 AACR-Glaxo Welcome Oncology Scholar Award for Clinical/Translational Research

2001 First Prize in Clinical section John’s Hopkins Fellow Research Day

2005 ASCO Career Development Award

2012, 2014, 2018, 2019 JHSPH Teaching Excellence Award

2017 Inducted into Delta Omega Honorary Society for Public Health

2017 Baltimore Orioles Birdland Community Hero Award

2019. AACR Journal Award: Manuscript selected as one of the most highly cited articles in Cancer Prevention Research published in 2018.

  • cancer epidemiology
  • cancer prevention
  • etiology
  • early detection
  • risk assessment
  • genetics
  • chemoprevention
  •   breast cancer
  • biomarkers of risk and prognosis, repurposing medications, ovarian cancer, modifiable risk factors, statins, aspirin, depression, cancer survivors
  • ARIC Cancer
  • Assessing Breast and Ovarian Cancer Outcomes using Large Administrative Databases
  • Assessing Economic Burden among MSM in the MACS
  • CLUE 1& II Population Based Cohort
  • Evaluating Breast and Ovarian cancer Outcomes in a National Finnish Database