Joseph L. Wiemels, PhD

Joseph L. Wiemels, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF

Phone: (415) 514-0577 (voice)
Box 0520, 1450 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94158

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Cancer Center Membership

Program Member » Pediatric Malignancies

Research Summary

I am a trained molecular epidemiologist with a strong focus on immunologic and genetic approaches at understanding disease etiology, particularly in childhood immune development and leukemia. I currently hold a primary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, with a secondary appointment in Neurological Surgery, and am the co-President of the Brain Tumor Epidemiology Consortium. This combination of expertise makes me well suited to serve as a HDFCCC Member in the Programs of Pediatric Malignancies and Neurological Oncology. I have worked on cancer etiology for more than 18 years for both hematologic cancers and brain cancers. Discovering the etiology and preventive modalities for cancer, particularly brain and hematologic ones in both children and adults, is my life’s work.


Kenyon College, BA, 1988, Biology
University of California Berkeley, PhD, 1997, Environmental Health Science/Toxicology

Professional Experience

  • 1988-90
    Science Teacher, St. Johns College, Levuka, Fiji
  • 1992-97
    Graduate Student Researcher, University of California Berkeley
  • 1997-99
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Leukaemia Research Fund Centre, Institute of Cancer Research, London
  • 1999-2000
    Assistant Research Molecular Epidemiologist, University of California San Francisco
  • 2001-2002
    Assistant Adjunct Professor, University of California San Francisco
  • 2002-2006
    Assistant Professor in Residence, University of California San Francisco
  • 2006-present
    Associate Professor, University of California San Francisco

Honors & Awards

  • 1986
    Maxwell Elliot Power Prize, Kenyon College
  • 1988
    Phi Beta Kappa, Kenyon College
  • 1993
    Public Health Alumni Scholarship, University of California Berkeley
  • 1993
    National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship in Toxicology awarded
  • 1993-97
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California Berkeley
  • 2002
    Scholar, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America

Selected Publications

  1. Eckel-Passow JE, Lachance DH, Molinaro AM, Walsh KM, Decker PA, Sicotte H, Pekmezci M, Rice T, Kosel ML, Smirnov IV, Sarkar G, Caron AA, Kollmeyer TM, Praska CE, Chada AR, Halder C, Hansen HM, McCoy LS, Bracci PM, Marshall R, Zheng S, Reis GF, Pico AR, O'Neill BP, Buckner JC, Giannini C, Huse JT, Perry A, Tihan T, Berger MS, Chang SM, Prados MD, Wiemels J, Wiencke JK, Wrensch MR, Jenkins RB. Glioma Groups Based on 1p/19q, IDH, and TERT Promoter Mutations in Tumors. N Engl J Med. 2015 Jun 25; 372(26):2499-508.
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  2. Kulis M, Merkel A, Heath S, Queirós AC, Schuyler RP, Castellano G, Beekman R, Raineri E, Esteve A, Clot G, Verdaguer-Dot N, Duran-Ferrer M, Russiñol N, Vilarrasa-Blasi R, Ecker S, Pancaldi V, Rico D, Agueda L, Blanc J, Richardson D, Clarke L, Datta A, Pascual M, Agirre X, Prosper F, Alignani D, Paiva B, Caron G, Fest T, Muench MO, Fomin ME, Lee ST, Wiemels JL, Valencia A, Gut M, Flicek P, Stunnenberg HG, Siebert R, Küppers R, Gut IG, Campo E, Martín-Subero JI. Whole-genome fingerprint of the DNA methylome during human B cell differentiation. Nat Genet. 2015 Jul; 47(7):746-56.
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  3. Walsh KM, Wiencke JK, Lachance DH, Wiemels JL, Molinaro AM, Eckel-Passow JE, Jenkins RB, Wrensch MR. Telomere maintenance and the etiology of adult glioma. Neuro Oncol. 2015 May 25.
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  4. Barrington-Trimis JL, Cockburn M, Metayer C, Gauderman WJ, Wiemels J, McKean-Cowdin R. Rising rates of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Hispanic children: trends in incidence from 1992 to 2011. Blood. 2015 May 7; 125(19):3033-4.
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  5. Dahl G, Wiemels J. What causes leukemia? Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015 Jul; 62(7):1123-4.
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  6. Gonseth S, Nusslé S, Bovet P, Panese F, Wiemels JL. Excess winter deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases are associated with both mild winter temperature and socio-economic inequalities in the U.S. Int J Cardiol. 2015 May 6; 187:642-4.
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  7. Hsu LI, Chokkalingam AP, Briggs FB, Walsh K, Crouse V, Fu C, Metayer C, Wiemels JL, Barcellos LF, Buffler PA. Association of genetic variation in IKZF1, ARID5B, and CEBPE and surrogates for early-life infections with the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Hispanic children. Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Apr; 26(4):609-19.
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  8. Lee ST, Muench MO, Fomin ME, Xiao J, Zhou M, de Smith A, Martín-Subero JI, Heath S, Houseman EA, Roy R, Wrensch M, Wiencke J, Metayer C, Wiemels JL. Epigenetic remodeling in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs in two tracks and employs embryonic stem cell-like signatures. Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Mar 11; 43(5):2590-602.
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  9. Zhou M, Bracci PM, McCoy LS, Hsuang G, Wiemels JL, Rice T, Zheng S, Kelsey KT, Wrensch MR, Wiencke JK. Serum macrophage-derived chemokine/CCL22 levels are associated with glioma risk, CD4 T cell lymphopenia and survival time. Int J Cancer. 2015 Aug 15; 137(4):826-36.
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  10. Claus EB, Walsh KM, Wiencke JK, Molinaro AM, Wiemels JL, Schildkraut JM, Bondy ML, Berger M, Jenkins R, Wrensch M. Survival and low-grade glioma: the emergence of genetic information. Neurosurg Focus. 2015 Jan; 38(1):E6.
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  11. Woehrer A, Lau CC, Prayer D, Bauchet L, Rosenfeld M, Capper D, Fisher PG, Kool M, Müller M, Kros JM, Kruchko C, Wiemels J, Wrensch M, Danysh HE, Zouaoui S, Heck JE, Johnson KJ, Qi X, O'Neill BP, Afzal S, Scheurer ME, Bainbridge MN, Nousome D, Bahassi el M, Hainfellner JA, Barnholtz-Sloan JS. Brain Tumor Epidemiology - A Hub within Multidisciplinary Neuro-oncology. Report on the 15th Brain Tumor Epidemiology Consortium (BTEC) Annual Meeting, Vienna, 2014. Clin Neuropathol. 2015 Jan-Feb; 34(1):40-6.
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  12. Zhang X, Xue F, Liu H, Zhu D, Peng B, Wiemels JL, Yang X. Integrative Bayesian variable selection with gene-based informative priors for genome-wide association studies. BMC Genet. 2014; 15(1):130.
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  13. Zhang L, Samad A, Pombo-de-Oliveira MS, Scelo G, Smith MT, Feusner J, Wiemels JL, Metayer C. Global characteristics of childhood acute promyelocytic leukemia. Blood Rev. 2015 Mar; 29(2):101-25.
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  14. Walsh KM, Codd V, Smirnov IV, Rice T, Decker PA, Hansen HM, Kollmeyer T, Kosel ML, Molinaro AM, McCoy LS, Bracci PM, Cabriga BS, Pekmezci M, Zheng S, Wiemels JL, Pico AR, Tihan T, Berger MS, Chang SM, Prados MD, Lachance DH, O'Neill BP, Sicotte H, Eckel-Passow JE. Variants near TERT and TERC influencing telomere length are associated with high-grade glioma risk. Nat Genet. 2014 Jul; 46(7):731-5.
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  15. Walsh KM, de Smith AJ, Welch TC, Smirnov I, Cunningham MJ, Ma X, Chokkalingam AP, Dahl GV, Roberts W, Barcellos LF, Buffler PA, Metayer C, Wiemels JL. Genomic ancestry and somatic alterations correlate with age at diagnosis in Hispanic children with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Am J Hematol. 2014 Jul; 89(7):721-5.
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  16. Olson SH, Hsu M, Wiemels JL, Bracci PM, Zhou M, Patoka J, Reisacher WR, Wang J, Kurtz RC, Silverman DT, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ. Serum immunoglobulin e and risk of pancreatic cancer in the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Jul; 23(7):1414-20.
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  17. Francis SS, Selvin S, Metayer C, Wallace AD, Crouse V, Moore TB, Wiemels JL, Buffler PA. Mode of delivery and risk of childhood leukemia. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 May; 23(5):876-81.
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  18. Xiao J, Lee ST, Xiao Y, Ma X, Houseman EA, Hsu LI, Roy R, Wrensch M, de Smith AJ, Chokkalingam A, Buffler P, Wiencke JK, Wiemels JL. PTPRG inhibition by DNA methylation and cooperation with RAS gene activation in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Int J Cancer. 2014 Sep 1; 135(5):1101-9.
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  19. de Smith AJ, Walsh KM, Ladner MB, Zhang S, Xiao C, Cohen F, Moore TB, Chokkalingam AP, Metayer C, Buffler PA, Trachtenberg EA, Wiemels JL. The role of KIR genes and their cognate HLA class I ligands in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood. 2014 Apr 17; 123(16):2497-503.
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  20. Diakos C, Xiao Y, Zheng S, Kager L, Dworzak M, Wiemels JL. Direct and indirect targets of the E2A-PBX1 leukemia-specific fusion protein. PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e87602.
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