Full Member, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; Research Fellow, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; Fellow, Carolina Population Center
Dr. Thompson’s research is focused on using population and data science methods to improve cancer outcomes and reduce cancer inequities.
Dr. Caroline Thompson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a native of Asheville, North Carolina and UNC alum. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology (UNC ’99) she enjoyed a 10-year career in the Biotech/Pharmaceutical industry as an oncology-focused clinical data manager for various companies, including Quintiles, Pfizer, and Chugai Pharmaceuticals, and relocated to California. Returning to graduate school at the University of California Los Angeles, she earned her MPH (UCLA ’10) and PhD (UCLA ’13) in Epidemiology with a focus on cancer, epidemiologic methods, and healthcare quality. She obtained postdoctoral training as an AcademyHealth Delivery Systems Science Fellow at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute where she learned methods for the research re-use of electronic health records. In 2015 she was appointed as a faculty member at the Schools of Public Health at San Diego State University School of Public Health and University of California San Diego, where she was a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences KL2 scholar and taught several courses in graduate-level epidemiologic methods. In 2021 she returned to North Carolina after ~20 years living in California to join the faculty at The Gillings School of Global Public Health as an Associate Professor of Epidemiology.
Capitalizing on her extensive experience and training in data science, cancer epidemiology, health services, and quality of care, as well as her passion for health equity, Dr. Thompson’s research program is focused on using population and data science methods to improve cancer outcomes and reduce cancer inequities. Her current projects are focused on understanding the circumstances of cancer diagnosis and how they contribute to cancer disparities, including estimating how often cancer is diagnosed in the emergency room, investigating diagnostic timeliness, and identifying pre-diagnostic signs and symptoms that might present opportunities for earlier diagnosis. To do this work she depends heavily on the use of large complex sources of healthcare data including national and statewide cancer registries, insurance claims, and electronic health records, which are often linked with contextual data sources such as the U.S. Census, American Community Survey, and GIS. She has received funding for her research program from the National Cancer Institute, National Center for Advancing Translational Science, Centers for Disease Control, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.