Biostatistics & Epidemiology

Faculty Profile

  • Jesse Plascak, PhD

  • Assistant Professor

  • Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

  • CV

Social Epidemiology; spatial epidemiology; cancer disparities.

Dr. Plascak holds degrees in Microbiology (Bachelor of Science) and Public Health – Epidemiology (Master of Public Health and Doctor of Philosophy) from the Ohio State University. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington in affiliation Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center focused on cancer prevention and control.

Research Interests
Dr. Plascak seeks to better understand how social environmental factors might influence cancer outcomes and whether these factors play a role in persistent cancer disparities by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography. Though much research has illuminated the biologic mechanisms of cancer development and prognosis, studies that integrate social factors with biologic factors are needed to determine the pathways through which social environments might ultimately affect biology and disease. Specifically, Dr. Plascak’s work focuses on disentangling the relationships between racial-ethnic segregation, discrimination, social capital, and neighborhood disorder and whether these factors are related to cancer and cancer-related risk factors. Knowledge of the unique contributions that these social environmental factors have on cancer is important for motivating public health policy, practice, and interventions seeking to reduce cancer disparities and build health equity. Dr. Plascak is currently funded by a National Cancer Institute career development award (K07CA222158) which will be used to test pathways involving social factors, biologic indicators of survival, and breast cancer outcomes among a cohort comprised of Black female breast cancer survivors living in New Jersey. The project will use virtual systematic social observation combined with spatial methods to characterize levels of physical disorder (e.g., garbage, abandoned buildings, graffiti, etc.) and walkability (e.g., sidewalk condition, connectivity, etc.) of NJ breast cancer survivors. An epigenetic profile of specific inflammation genes will be generated for a sub-cohort of participants. Social and epigenetic data will be integrated with medical record, questionnaire, and cancer registry data to determine if social environmental factors are associated with breast cancer survival, and if epigenetic alteration of inflammation genes is a potential mechanism of these relationships. Other active research projects involve a feasibility study that aims to assess state-wide neighborhood factors for subsequent linkage to the NJ State Cancer Registry as well as determine various spatial and psychometric measurement properties.

Select Publications
A Meilleur,SV Subramanian,JJ Plascak,JL Fisher,ED Paskett,EB Lamont (2013) "Rural residence and cancer outcomes in the United States: issues and challenges.", Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention : A Publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 22(5) 1657-1667

JJ Plascak,JL Fisher (2013) "Area-based socioeconomic position and adult glioma: a hierarchical analysis of surveillance epidemiology and end results data.", PloS One 8(5) e60910-

PL Reiter,JL Fisher,AG Hudson,TC Tucker,JJ Plascak,ED Paskett (2013) "Assessing the burden of HPV-related cancers in Appalachia.", Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics 9(5) 90-96

JJ Plascak,AA Llanos,ML Pennell,RC Weier,ED Paskett (2014) "Neighborhood factors associated with time to resolution following an abnormal breast or cervical cancer screening test.", Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention : A Publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 23(5) 2819-2828

JJ Plascak,Y Molina,S Wu-Georges,A Idris,B Thompson (2016) "Latino residential segregation and self-rated health among Latinos: Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2012-2014.", Social Science & Medicine (1982) 159(5) 38-47

Y Molina,JJ Plascak,DL Patrick,S Bishop,GD Coronado,SA Beresford (2017) "Neighborhood Predictors of Mammography Barriers Among US-Based Latinas.", Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 4(5) 233-242

JJ Plascak,B Hohl,WE Barrington,SA Beresford (2018) "Perceived neighborhood disorder, racial-ethnic discrimination and leading risk factors for chronic disease among women: California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013.", SSM - Population Health 5(5) 227-238

Scholarly Activities
Planning Member, Cancer Disparities Special Interest Group, American Society of Preventive Oncology (2018)

Co-Chair, Junior Member Special Interest Group, American Society of Preventive Oncology (2018)

New Investigator Award - Cancer Institute of New Jersey (2016) - Given to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology.