The Boston University Cohort

Boston University

Slone Epidemiology Center
Boston University Medical Campus
72 East Concord Street, L-7
Boston, Massachusetts 02118
Main number: (617) 734-6006
DES Study Direct number: (617) 206-6220
Contact person: Hannah Lord




About the Study:

Since 1994, at Boston University there have been 3,794 participants, including several groups of exposed and unexposed mothers, daughters, sons, and granddaughters.

Mothers' Cohort

The Mothers' Cohort consists of mothers who participated in the Women's Health Study. These women delivered a child or children at the Boston Lying-In Hospital, which is now part of Brigham and Women's Hospital. About half of these women took DES and the other half did not. A second group of mothers are women who were treated with DES for infertility by Dr. Herbert Horne during the 1950's and 1960's.

Daughters’ Cohort

A cohort of both DES-exposed and unexposed daughters was formed in 1994 when three different groups of daughters were invited to participate. Participants in the DESAD Project that began in 1974 include women who came into the study after review of their prenatal records at the Boston Lying-In Hospital. Other DES-exposed daughters were referred to the DESAD Project by their physicians or joined the study because of their own knowledge of DES exposure. A second group includes daughters of women in the Mothers’ Study who were born before 1965 at the Boston Lying-In Hospital. A third group includes daughters of women who were treated in Dr. Herbert Horne’s infertility practice.

Sons’ Cohort

In 1994, a cohort of sons was formed when two different groups of sons were invited to participate. The first group includes men who were born before 1965 at the Boston Lying-In Hospital. A second group includes sons of women who were treated with DES in Dr. Horne’s infertility practice.

The Third Generation Cohort:
These participants who are over eighteen years old are the granddaughters of the women in the original Women’s Health Study and Horne Mothers' Study.

About the Research Team:

Principal Investigator Julie R. Palmer, Sc.D., is a Professor of Epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health and Senior Epidemiologist at the Slone Epidemiology Center. Dr. Palmer's research specializes in women's health, with a particular focus on the role of female hormones on the risk of cancer and reproductive disorders. In addition to working on the current follow-up of persons exposed to DES, she has also collaborated in research on cofactors for the development of clear cell adenocarcinoma of the cervix and vagina in DES-exposed daughters. She has written many articles on women's health issues including
"Risk of breast cancer in women exposed to diethylstilbestrol in utero: preliminary results (United States)." Cancer Causes Control. 2002 Oct;13(8):753-8. and "Infertility among women exposed prenatally to diethylstilbestrol."Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Aug 15;154(4):316-21.

Co-Investigator, Kimberly Bertrand, ScD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and Slone Epidemiology Center, is a cancer epidemiologist whose research focuses on environmental, nutritional and lifestyle factors that may influence cancer risk. In addition, she has a particular interest in understanding the role exposures during early life, including young adulthood, adolescence, childhood, and the perinatal period, may play in cancer development.

Co-investigator Elizabeth Hatch, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health was formerly at National Cancer Institute Health prior to joining the BU faculty and has been involved in the DES Follow-up study since its inception. Dr. Hatch’s research interests are focused on prenatal and childhood exposures in relation to long-term health outcomes, especially hormonally-related cancers, reproductive outcomes, and obesity. She continues her involvement with the DES study and is researching whether DES can affect age at menarche and obesity among prenatally-exposed women.

Project Coordinator Hannah Lord also coordinates the Horne Cohort of the DES Project that includes participants who were patients and children of patients of her late father, Dr. Herbert Horne, an infertility specialist in Boston, Massachusetts.