Research Interests

Marie-Elise Parent

My most significant contributions relate to my research activities in cancer aetiology, with the aim of providing evidence for prevention. I am interested in uncovering risk factors for cancers at several sites such as the lung, the breast, the brain, and most particularly the prostate.

Main contribution: Prostate cancer aetiology research program

In 2002, intrigued by the elusive aetiology of prostate cancer, I conceived PROtEuS (Prostate Cancer & Environment Study), a large-scale population-based case-control study involving 4,000 Montreal men, and entailing a comprehensive assessment of the role of occupational, environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors. This is the largest and most detailed epidemiological study of environmental causes of prostate cancer to date. A unique aspect of the study resides in the lifetime exposure assessment to workplace chemicals, which is my specific area of expertise. The extensive data collection, involving over 20 research assistants, was made possible through cumulative funding from several Canadian agencies (2002-2018). Data collection was completed in 2015 and this vast study is now in its analysis and publication phase. It offers an excellent infrastructure for graduate students and fellows to conduct complex analytical projects and engage in solid training. They also benefit from the support of seasoned expert collaborators from relevant research areas.

Expert panels

This successful research program positions me as a world leader in the area of prostate cancer epidemiology and occupational exposure assessment. In recognition of my expertise, I am regularly invited to sit on major international committees, including at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO), the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (US) and the National Toxicology Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (US). I am also very active on the Canadian scene on scientific, management and peer-review committees. I joined two international prostate cancer Consortia.


Since the beginning of my academic career in 2000, I received $9.7M in research grants as principal investigator for my prostate cancer research and $7M as co-investigator for other cancer projects from various agencies (Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Research Society, NIH, CIHR, etc.). I benefited from investigator awards throughout my career (FRQS Chercheurs-Boursiers J1, J2, Senior).


I authored 146 peer-reviewed publications (8 submitted) and offered 203 scientific presentations. Since 2013 (≈last 5 years), I authored 82 papers (for 33 of them the first author was a student of mine, or myself). These appeared in leading journals such as the American Journal of Epidemiology, Epidemiologic Reviews, Environment International, Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Lancet Oncology. To date, my work has generated 5096 citations. My Google Scholar H-index is 39. Also in the last 5 years, I gave 97 national or international presentations (42 offered by one of my trainees, 10 by myself). In addition, I was guest speaker in major scientific venues in Paris, Edinburgh, Vancouver, London (UK), New York, New Orleans, Toronto, Montevideo, and Bordeaux.

Other significant contributions

I was one of the PIs of the 13-country INTERPHONE project coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to clarify the association between cell phone use and brain tumours. I received an Honorable Mention for the Alice Hamilton Award – Exposure Assessment Category, from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US) for two papers based on this project.

Major expert panels

  • External expert on 3 occasions for the Report on Carcinogens, National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (US), (2014: Tricholoethylene, 2015: Cobalt, 2018: Night work)
  • Working Group, Monograph Programs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, styrene evaluation (2017-2018)
  • External expert, Site Visit Review of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (US) (2015)

Management Committees

  • Member, Board of Directors, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, University of Quebec (2009-2017)
  • Director-at-Large-Research, Board of Directors, Canadian Cancer Society (2010-2013)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Society for Epidemiology & Biostatistics (2008-2011)
  • Vice-Chair and member of the Board of Directors (2005-2006), regular member (2003-2004), Management Committee, Prostate Cancer Research Initiative, National Cancer Institute of Canada

Editorial Boards:

  • Cancer Epidemiology
  • Frontiers in Oncology – Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention

International Consortia:

  • PRACTICAL Consortium – Prostate Cancer Association Group to Investigate Cancer Associated Alterations in the Genome, University of Cambridge, UK (2014-pr.)
  • African American Prostate Cancer Consortium, University of Southern California, US (2010-pr.)

Selected Scientific Committees

Science Advisory Committee, Cancer Research Society (2018-pr.); Science Advisory Board, Health Canada (2010-2013); Research Advisory Panel, Prostate Cancer Canada (2012-2018); Advisory Council on Research, Canadian Cancer Society (2011-2013); Occupational Health Taskforce, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University (2011-2012); Epidemiology Steering Group, CARTaGENE Study (2007-2010); Expert Advisory Group on Occupational and Environmental Exposures, CPAC/Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (2009); Canadian Cancer Prevention Research Draft Strategic Plan Stakeholder Consultation Workshop (2011)

Organization of Scientific Conferences

Application under review: Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee, 28th International Conference on Epidemiology and Occupational Health (EPICOH), Montréal, Canada, 2020; Scientific Committee, International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Ottawa (2017-2018); Scientific Committees, International Conferences EPICOH in Utrecht, Chicago, Barcelona, Edinburgh, Wellington (2013-2019); Local Host Organizing Committee, North American Epidemiology Congress, Montreal, 2011; Organizing Committee, NCIC/CPCRI “Prostate Cancer – State of the Science 2007”; Scientific Committee, Canadian Association for Research on Work and Health, Vancouver (2005)

Selected Peer-Review Panels (out of 14)

FRQS Research Chairs (2017); FRQS Chercheurs-Boursiers (2011-2013); Chair, Canadian Cancer Institute, Cancer Etiology (2009-2010); Canada Research Chairs Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee (2010); Research Chairs, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (2010); FRQS Chercheurs-Boursiers (2005); CIHR, Public, Community and Population Health Committee, Operating Grants (2002-2005)