Julie Smith-Gagen, Ph.D., MPH

Associate Professor
Smith-Gagen, Julie


Julie Smith-Gagen MPH, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. As an epidemiologist, her work uses epidemiology to inform health policy to promote equity in utilization and access to healthcare. Her current area of focus is on the real-world use of diagnostics and treatments for patients with Cancer of Unknown Primary. Another area of focus is on prevention treatments that can slow the progression of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and liver cancer.

Additionally, Smith-Gagen has several lines of inquiry into breastfeeding and women’s health.  Smith-Gagen received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of Utah Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program, Southern California NIOSH Education and Research Center to name a few.  She was awarded and recognized as a Healthcare Quality Scholar from the UCLA Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare and as a Rising Star from the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Dr. Smith-Gagen serves as Vice Chair for the Minority Affairs Committee in the American College of Epidemiology.


  • Differential Delivery of Follow-up Care and Survivorship Among Latinos Care and Survivorship Among Latinos Using Medicare. Sponsor: National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute 2010-2012
  • Workplace Breastfeeding Policies and Practices that Promote Healthy Families. Sponsor: Occupational Health and Safety Research Training Pilot Project grant", Southern California NIOSH Education and Research Center 2011-2012
  • Evaluation of a Foot and Ankle Service: Renown Health 2015-2016
  • Risk of CFS Due to IgG Receptor Genes that Impair ADCC (PI Hudig D): National Institutes of Health 2015-2017


  • Health Care Scholars Award from UCLA’s Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare, 2010

Research interests

My research focuses on serving the under-served, especially where data can inform policy implications. I focus on minority, female, and overlooked populations in the fields of cancer, chronic disease and women's health. I also collaborate with life- scientists and clinicians to facilitate intersections between biology and epidemiology.

  • Ethnic disparities in cancer survivors and utilization of care
  • Cancer care in Managed Care Organizations
  • Cancer registry methodology
  • Breastfeeding practices and laws

Profesional affiliations

  • American College of Epidemiology
  • Minority Affairs Committee

Selected Publications

  • Smith-Gagen J, Drake CM, White LL, Pinheiro PS. Extent of diagnostic inquiry among a population-based cohort of patients with cancer of unknown primary. Cancer Rep Rev. 2019 Sep;3(3). doi: 10.15761/CRR.1000187.
  • Pavlidis N, Rassy E, Smith-Gagen J. Cancer of unknown primary: Incidence rates, risk factors and survival among adolescents and young adults. Int J Cancer. 2019 May 29. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32482.
  • Smith-Gagen J, White LL, Santos A, Hasty SM, Tung WC, Lu Scope-of-practice laws and expanded health services: the case of underserved women and advanced cervical cancer diagnoses. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2019 Mar;73(3):278-284. doi: 10.1136/jech-2018-210709.
  • See, H**, Smith Gagen, J., Hollen, R**., White, L**., Christiansen, E. Pragmatic effectiveness of the Loving Support Peer Counseling Program to Increase Breastfeeding Duration Among Nevada WIC Participants. Clinical Lactation. In Press. Accepted 1/12/2018
  • Thiel de Bocanegra H, Carter-Pokras O, Ingleby JD, Pottie K, Tchangalova N, Allen SI, Smith-Gagen J, Hidalgo B. Addressing refugee health through evidence-based policies: a case study. Ann Epidemiol. 2017 May 12. pii: S1047-2797(17)30074-1. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.05.010
  • Malone RW, Homan J, Callahan MV, Glasspool-Malone J, Damodaran L, De Bernardi Schneider A, Zimler R, Talton J, Cobb RR, Ruzic I, Smith-Gagen J, Janies D, J Wilson J; Zika Response Working Group. Zika Virus: Medical Countermeasure Development Challenges PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Mar 2;10(3):e0004530.
  • Smith-Gagen J, Loux T, Drake C, Pérez-Stable EJ, How does managed care improve the quality of breast cancer care among Medicare insured minority women? J Racial and Ethn Disparities. 2016 (3):496-507. doi: 10.1007/s40615-015-0167-y.
  • Deadmond MA**, Smith-Gagen J. Changing Incidence of Myeloproliferative Neoplasms: Trends and Subgroup Risk Profiles in the United States, 1973-2011. Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology. 2015 Dec;141(12):2131-8.
  • Dieringer P**, Klass EM, Smith-Gagen J. Body Mass Index and Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology. 2015 Jan;141(1):93-8. PMID: 25968903.
  • Mnatsakanyan E**, Tung WC, Caine B, Smith-Gagen J. Cancer of Unknown Primary: Time Trends in Incidence, United States. Cancer Causes and Control. 2014 Jun;25(6):747-57. PMID: 24710663.
  • Smith-Gagen J, Goodwin GA 3rd**, Tay J. Multiple primary tumors following Stage II and III rectal cancer in patients receiving radiotherapy, 1998-2010. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2014 Jun;140(6):949-55. PMID: 24663823.
  • Smith-Gagen, J, Hollen R, Tashiro S**, Cook DM, Yang W. The Association of State Law to Breastfeeding Practices in the US. Maternal and Child Health J. 2014 Nov;18(9):2034-43. PMID: 24535146.
  • Smith-Gagen J, Cress RD, Drake CM, Romano PS, Yost KY, Ayanian JZ. Quality-of-Life and Surgical Treatments for Rectal Cancer-a Longitudinal Analysis Using the California Cancer Registry. Psycho-Oncology. 2010 Aug;19(8):870-8. PMID: 19862692.

**Student author


  • PhD, Epidemiology, University of California, Davis, 2004
  • MPH, University of South Florida. Tampa, 1998
  • BS, Biology, Florida State University, 1989
  • BS, Physics, Frostburg State University, MD, 1987