Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas


According to the WHO, cancer is among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer related deaths in 2012. More than one million people in the United States are diagnosed each year, and low-income communities, communities of color, and certain types of workers are often at higher risk.

The Public Health Institute is committed to advancing equitable public health solutions to reduce and prevent cancer, as well as increasing access to high-quality, affordable treatment options for all people who need it. For decades, the Public Health Institute has advanced cancer prevention efforts through our cutting-edge research, data visualization, and mapping of cancer incidents. Our cancer prevention programs work closely with community residents, health coalitions, business leaders, elected officials, and others to address both environmental and social determinants of health and reduce cancer rates, often in low-resource areas. PHI is committed to reducing health inequities and lowering rates of cancer by focusing on the needs of underserved communities most vulnerable to environmental health hazards.

Our expertise includes:

  • Advancing cancer research: Our staff are experts in researching the public’s exposure to environmental toxins and their connections to cancer, as well as calculating the cost of environmental burdens.
  • Cancer tracking and surveillance: We can work with you to track health threats that are tied to cancer—and predict future ones—in order to improve planning and mitigation efforts. We also offer support in the development of cancer registry software that provides quality data collection, and powerful, reliable, user-friendly abstracting and reporting.
  • Policy advocacy: PHI experts are available to help you build and launch advocacy campaigns in support of policies and regulations that create cleaner environments and better health.
  • Health education and promotion: Work with us to develop and implement plans to educate the public and policy makers about the impacts of environmental health threats tied to cancer.


Resources and Tools

See all.


Barbara Cohn

Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, is director of the Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) at PHI. CHDS is home to a groundbreaking study, which originat...

View Details »

Rosemary Cress

Dr. Rosemary Cress is a Research Program Director with the Public Health Institute’s Cancer Registry of Greater California (CRGC), the larges...

View Details »

Paul English

Paul English, PhD, MPH, is state environmental epidemiologist and branch scientific advisor for the Environmental Health Investigations Branch at t...

View Details »

Thomas Greenfield

Tom Greenfield is scientific director of PHI's Alcohol Research Group (ARG). He also directs ARG's National Alcohol Research Center, which ...

View Details »

Marta Induni

Marta Induni, PhD, is the research program director of the Survey Research Group (SRG) at PHI. With more than 20 years of survey research experienc...

View Details »

Elizabeth O'Connor

Elizabeth O'Connor is principal investigator for the Children's Oncology Group (COG) Coordinating Center project and chief operating office...

View Details »

Gina Solomon

Gina Solomon is a Principal Investigator at PHI, researching environmental health and chemical policy issues. She is specifically evaluating how Ca...

View Details »


C/Net Solutions

Founded in 1982, C/NET Solutions develops cancer registry software that provides quality data collection, and powerful, reliable, user-friendly abs...

View Details »

California Green Chemistry Evaluation Project

California Green Chemistry Evaluation Project   California has unique laws intended to protect public health and exceed federal protec...

View Details »

California Occupational Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OHSEP)

OHSEP, a program of the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health, tracks work-related injuries and diseas...

View Details »

Cancer Registry of Greater California

Through a contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), PHI manages the Cancer Registry of Greater California (CRGC), one of several populatio...

View Details »

Child Health and Development Studies

Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) investigates how health and disease are passed on between generations--not only genetically, but also t...

View Details »

Survey Research Group

The Survey Research Group (SRG) conducts population based health-related surveys, using one of the country's most technologically advanced call...

View Details »

Tracking California

Tracking California (formerly the California Environmental Health Tracking Program) compiles, analyzes, and shares data to identify and understand ...

View Details »

Here's How We're Making a Difference

Calculating the Costs of Environmental Health Conditions in California Children

Eliminating exposures to preventable environmental hazards related to four childhood health conditions could save families and the state of California $254 million annually, and prevent losses of $10-13 billion over the lifetime of all children born in a single year, revealed a 2015 report from PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program (now known as Tracking California). 

Explore the report and accompanying graphics. 



Producing Lifesaving Research: Women with Irregular Menstrual Cycles at Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer Death

PHI’s Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) found that women with irregular menstrual cycles had up to a threefold increased risk of ovarian cancer. The findings will provide new tools to identify early warning signs for a type of cancer that in the past has gone unnoticed until it’s too late.

More than 50 years ago, CHDS enrolled over 15,000 mothers early on in their pregnancy. Follow-up studies of their children, now adults, and of their grandchildren enable CHDS scientists to study health across generations and seek ways to prevent disease early in life. Identifying risk factors for ovarian cancer, which is usually not diagnosed until after it has spread, allows clinicians to develop strategies to potentially save lives. The findings from this study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Cancer give women and clinicians new tools to identify irregular menstrual cycles as an early warning sign for a cancer that might otherwise be ignored. Learn more about the study.

Tracking Smoking Rates Over the Decades

PHI’s Survey Research Group collected important data documenting tobacco use from 1987 to present, helping to track and inform prevention efforts.

Their research found that only 11.9 percent of the state’s adults smoked in 2010, making California one of only two states to reach the federal Healthy People 2020 target of reducing the percentage of adults who smoke to 12 percent.