Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD

“My research is about the risks and benefits of procedures such as cancer screening. I'm working to standardize medical imaging so patients can be confident they're getting the lowest radiation doses necessary for effective imaging.”

Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD

Group Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Areas of focus:


Senior Investigator and Biostatistician Diana Miglioretti is committed to helping improve early detection of breast cancer. She pursues a rigorous combination of applied and methodological research, overseeing analyses of the largest and most comprehensive collection of breast cancer screening data in the nation.

Dr. Miglioretti co-leads the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC)—a network of mammography registries linked to tumor and pathology registries. Established in 1994, the BCSC kicked off a new $20 million Program Project grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 2011. Dr. Miglioretti serves as the program’s contact principal investigator (PI) and the Director of the Biostatistics and Data Management Core, which houses the Statistical Coordinating Center—the repository and central analysis site for all BCSC data.

The vast BCSC database includes information on more than 9.5 million mammograms, 2.3 million women, and 114,000 breast cancer cases. Dr. Miglioretti leads the SCC in maximizing the value of these data: establishing and evaluating data collection, helping individual sites and outside researchers with analyses, and developing new statistical techniques. Through these efforts, BCSC data play an essential role in formulating national breast cancer screening policy decisions and clinical guidelines. It’s a one-of-a-kind resource that lets researchers worldwide answer timely questions about benefits and risks of breast cancer screening.

For example, Dr. Miglioretti worked with GHRI Senior Investigator Diana Buist, PhD, MPH, and colleagues from the University of Sydney in Australia on the first-ever study to rigorously assess screening mammography outcomes for women who’d had breast cancer before. Examining 12 years of information from more than 110,000 mammograms, they found that yearly screening detected second breast cancers at an early stage—results they published February 23, 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (see news release).

Another example comes from Dr. Miglioretti’s collaboration with NCI’s Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) and the Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center. Publishing in the May 1, 2012, Annals of Internal Medicine, the team found that women age 40 to 49 with a twofold increase in breast cancer risk who have screening mammograms every two years experience similar benefits and harms as average-risk women who start biennial screening at age 50 (see news release).

BCSC data are also being used to better understand variation in radiologists’ interpretive performance of mammography. In the Assessing and Improving Mammography (AIM) study, Dr. Miglioretti worked with BCSC collaborators to develop mammography test sets to assess individual radiologist's interpretive performance (see news release). She is currently working with international colleagues to expand the test set to compare radiologist performance across many counties as part of the International Cancer Screening Network.

Additionally, Dr. Miglioretti develops statistical methods to more rigorously analyze longitudinal mammography data and is tackling questions related to the rapidly increasing use of diagnostic imaging. As imaging rates trend upward, so does exposure to medical radiation—results she reported June 12, 2012, in the Journal of the American Medical Association with Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues from the Cancer Research Network (see news release).

These many achievements earned Dr. Miglioretti an appointment as the Dean’s Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis—a position she undertook at the outset of 2013, while still maintaining her leadership role in the BCSC and other key GHRI projects. Dr. Miglioretti enthusiastically shares her expertise as an instructor at the Radiological Society of North America's (RSNA) annual workshop in clinical trials methodology, which aims to prepare radiologists to develop clinical research protocols and apply for funding. Among her many professional memberships are the American Association for Cancer Research, the International Biometrics Society Eastern and Western North America regions (ENAR and WNAR), and the American Statistical Association, for whom she served as a Council of Sections representative in Biometrics.

Research interests and experience

  • Biostatistics

    Clustered and longitudinal data analysis; latent variable modeling; assessment of diagnostic and screening tests

  • Cancer

    Biostatistics; breast cancer screening and  surveillance; mammographic breast density; risk prediction; colorectal cancer screening

  • Radiology

    Imaging trends; radiation exposure from medical  imaging; evaluation of imaging tests


Recent publications

Miglioretti DL, Lee CI. Radiation-induced breast cancer. Ann Intern Med. 2016;165(6):452. doi: 10.7326/L16-0364. PubMed

Menes TS, Kerlikowske K, Lange J, Jaffer S, Rosenberg R, Miglioretti DL. Subsequent breast cancer risk following diagnosis of atypical ductal hyperplasia on needle biopsy. JAMA Oncol. 2016 Sep 8. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.3022 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Marcus PM, Pashayan N, Church TR, Doria-Rose VP, Gould MK, Hubbard RA, Marrone M, Miglioretti DL, Pharoah PD, Pinsky PF, Rendle KA, Robbins HA, Roberts MC, Rolland B, Schiffman M, Tiro JA, Zauber AG, Winn DM, Khoury MJ. Population-based precision cancer screening: a symposium on evidence, epidemiology, and next steps. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2016 Aug 9. pii: cebp.0555.2016. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Smith-Bindman R, Wang Y, Yellen-Nelson TR, Moghadassi M, Wilson N, Gould R, Seibert A, Boone JM, Krishnam M, Lamba R, Hall DJ, Miglioretti DL. Predictors of CT radiation dose and their effect on patient care: a comprehensive analysis using automated data. Radiology. 2016 Jul 20:151391. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed



New breast cancer research will study supplemental screening methods

Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium receives $7.5 million to investigate supplemental breast MRI and tomosynthesis.

Read it in Healthy Findings.

breast cancer imaging

Patients power SIMBA research on breast cancer, mammograms, breast MRIs

A new video shows how patient engagement takes center stage in Dr. Karen Wernli’s study of breast cancer imaging for women who’ve had the disease before.

Read it in Healthy Findings.

News release

Computer-aided detection does not improve breast cancer screening

Sept. 28, 2015—CAD raises screening costs without benefit to patients and may miss cancers, large national BCSC study shows

Read it in News and Events.

featured video


Making Medicine Better by Working Together

(YouTube, 5:33)


Computer-aided detection does not improve breast cancer screening

High-tech mammogram tool doesn’t boost cancer detection, study shows

Seattle Times, Sept. 28, 2015