NIH: Office of Disease Prevention


Office of Disease Prevention Staff

John K. Gohagan, Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Officer

Dr. Gohagan was appointed Senior Scientific Officer in the ODP in 2010 as the liaison from the NIH Office of the Director to the National Children’s Study (NCS) to provide critical oversight and advisory services. The NCS was a multi-institutional cohort study of factors affecting the health of children. He continued his roles as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and as a member of the Screening and Prevention Board of NCI’s on-line, evidence-based Physician’s Data Query program.

Before joining the ODP, Dr. Gohagan served as Chief of the Early Detection Branch at NCI from 1992 through 2004 and Acting Chief of the Basic Prevention Science Research Group at NCI from 2004 to 2010. He was the Senior Project Officer and Director of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovary (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial launched in 1992 and the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) launched in 2002. These mortality endpoint trials addressed unresolved and controversial issues regarding benefits and risks of cancer screening while assessing screening technology performance. Dr. Gohagan was responsible for the collaborative work of the ten PLCO clinical centers nationwide, a laboratory for standardized serum assay analysis, a coordinating and training center, and a bio-repository. PLCO recruited 154,897 participants and consented, randomized, screened, and followed the medical status of participants for 23 years. The NLST addressed the technological comparison of spiral CT versus chest x-ray screening at multiple clinical sites, where more than 50,000 high-risk smokers were randomized to screening and followed over many years. The published results from these trials influenced practice standards nationwide.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Gohagan with Dr. Fritz Schroeder, Director of the eight-nation European Randomized Studies of Prostate Cancer, and Dr. Philip Prorok, Chief of Biometry in the Division of Cancer Prevention at NCI and Associate Project Officer of the PLCO trial, organized the International Prostate Screening Trials Evaluation Group, a forum for deliberating the performance of the NCI and European trials. Multiple joint publications resulted.

Dr. Gohagan was NCI’s lead scientist dealing with the congressionally sensitive and controversial issue of screening premenopausal women for breast cancer in the 1990s. In this role, he was responsible for organizing the International Workshop on Breast Cancer Screening of Women 40–49 to develop an international assessment of clinical trials conducted in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Sweden. He served as the NCI specialist to coordinate the follow-up NIH Consensus Development Conference with the former NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research several years later.

Dr. Gohagan was recruited to NCI as a Special Expert from Washington University in St. Louis in 1990, where he was a tenured Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Associate Professor of Radiology, and Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine. He was recognized as an international leader in the field of breast cancer screening and for his innovative MRI breast tissue classification work, which he directed at five U.S. clinical centers (Washington University Medical Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center, the University of Virginia Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Center, and Wayne State Medical Center), as well as a clinic in Munich, Germany. He was a consultant to industry, government, and academic institutions, served on regional and national deliberative committees addressing health technology and resource matters, and appeared on numerous TV and radio programs as a health issues discussant.

Dr. Gohagan has published widely in early detection of cancer, screening technology development and assessment, and public health and health policy issues. He continues to collaborate with NIH and academic scholars on writing projects in biomedical engineering, computational and systems biology, and cancer detection. He has spoken both nationally and internationally on the results of his work.

Dr. Gohagan earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Selected Publications

Zhu, C.S., Pinsky, P.F., Kramer, B.S., Prorok, P.C., Purdue, M.P., Berg, C.D., Gohagan, J.K. “The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial and Its Associated Research Resource,” JNCI (Reviews) Oxford Univ. Press 2013, External Website Policy

Schoen, R.E., Pinsky, P.F., Weissfeld, J.I....Gohagan, J.K. et al., for the PLCO Project Team, “Colorectal-Cancer Incidence and Mortality With Screening Flexible Sigmoidoscopy,” N Engl J Med 366: 2345-2357; 2012.

Andriole, G.L., Crawford, E.D., Grubb III, R.L....Kramer, B.S., Miller, A.B., Pinsky, P.F., Gohagan, J.K., and Prorok, P.C., for the PLCO Project Team, “Prostate Cancer Screening in the Randomized Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial: Mortality Results After 13 Years of Follow-up,” JNCI Oxford Univ. Press 104:1-8; 2012.

Oken, M.M., Hocking, W.G., Kvale, P.A....Pinsky, P.F., Prorok, P.C., Kramer, B.S., Miller, A.B....Gohagan, J.K., and Berg, C.D. for the PLCO Project Team, “Screening by Chest Radiograph & Lung Cancer Mortality: the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Randomized Trial,” JAMA 306: 1865-1873; November 2, 2011.

Buys, S.S., Partridge, E., Black, A., Johnson, C.C., Lamerato, L., Isaacs, C....Prorok, P.C., Gohagan, J.K., and Berg, C.D. for the PLCO Project Team, “Effect of Screening on Ovarian Cancer Mortality: The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Randomized Trial,” JAMA 305(22), 2295-2303, 2011.

Gatsonis, C.A....Gohagan, J.K. et al. “The National Lung Screening Trial: Overview and Study Design,” Radiology 258(1):243-253, January 20, 2011. Online at External Website Policy

Lee, N., Laine, A.F., Marquez, G., Levsky, J.M., Gohagan, J.K., “Potential of Computer-Aided Diagnosis to Improve CT Lung Cancer Screening,” IEEE Reviews in Biomedical Engineering (Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/RBME.2009.2034022) 2:136-146, December 2009.

Kherlopian, A.R., Song, T., Duan, Q., Neimark, M.A., Po, M.J., Gohagan, J.K., Laine, A.F., “A Review of Imaging Techniques for Systems Biology,” BMC Systems Biology 2:74, 2008. External Website Policy

Lewis, M.H., Gohagan, J.K, Merenstein, D., “The Locality Rule and the Physician’s Dilemma: Local Medical Practices vs the National Standard of Care,” JAMA 297(23):2633-2637, 2007.

Pinsky, P.F., Gohagan, J.K., et al., “Prevalence of Non-cancer Related Abnormalities on Low-Dose Spiral CT vs Chest Radiography in a Screening Population,” Thorax 62:190, 2007.

Gohagan, J.K., Marcus, P., Fagerstrom, R., Prorok, P.C., Black, W.C., Kramer, B.S. “Lung Cancer Screening (revised)” in Williams, C., et al. (eds.), Evidence-Based Respiratory Medicine, BMJ Books, 2005.

Pinsky, P.F., Gohagan, J.K., et al., “Abnormalities on Chest Radiograph Reported in Subjects in a Cancer Screening Trial,” CHEST 130: 688-693, 2006.

Gohagan, J.K., Marcus, P.M., Fagerstrom, R.M., Pinsky, P.F., Kramer, B.S., Prorok, P.C,, et al., “Final Results of the Lung Screening Study, a Randomized Feasibility Study of Spiral CT Versus X-ray Screening for Lung Cancer,” Lung Cancer 47: 9-15, 2005.

Gohagan, J.K., Marcus, P.M., Fagerstrom, R.M., Pinsky, P.F., Kramer, B.S., Prorok, P.C., et al., “Baseline Findings of a Randomized Feasibility Trial of Lung Cancer Screening With Spiral CT Scan vs Chest Radiograph: The Lung Screening Study of the National Cancer Institute,” CHEST 126: 114-121, 2004.

Church, T.R., and the NLST Executive Committee, “Chest Radiography as the Comparison for Spiral CT in the National Lung Screening Trial,” Academic Radiology 10: 713-715, 2003.

De Koning, H.J., Gohagan, J.K., et al, “Large-scale Randomized Prostate Cancer Screening Trials; Program Performances in the ERSPC-and PLCO Trials,” International J Cancer 97: 237-244, 2002.

Gohagan, J.K., Kramer, B.S., Black, W.C. “Cancer Screening and Early Detection,” in Kelly, W.M.(ed.), Textbook of Internal Medicine, 4th ed., Lippincott-Raven, 2000.

Houn, F., Gohagan, J.K., Kramer, B.K., et al, “Study Design Issues in the Evaluation of Breast Cancer Imaging Technologies,” Academic Radiology 7: 684-692, 2000.

Gohagan, J.K., Levin, D.L., Prorok, P.C., Sullivan, D. (eds), “The Prostate Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial,” Journal of Controlled Clinical Trials (supplement) 21(6S): 249S-406S, December 2000.

Miller, A.B., Gohagan J.K., et al., for the International Prostate Screening Trial Evaluation Group, “Rationale for Randomized Trials of Prostate Cancer Screening,” Euro J Cancer 35(2): 262-271, 1999.

Gohagan, J.K., Kramer, B.S., Prorok, P.C., "Screening for Ovarian Cancer," in Lawton, F. (ed.), The Management of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer London, BMJ Publishing Group, 1995.

Gohagan, J.K., Kramer, B.S., Greenwald, P., "Screening for Prostate Cancer: a Commentary on the Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination" (editorial), Amer J Prev Med 10(4):245-246, 1994.

Kramer, B.S., Brown, M.L., Prorok, P.C., Potosky, A.L., Gohagan, J.K., "Prostate Cancer Screening: What We Know and What We Need to Know," Ann Intern Med 119(9): 914-923, 1993.

Heywang-Koebrunner, S.H., Murphy, W.A., Gohagan, J.K., "Breast," in Stark, D.S. and Bradley, Jr., W.G. (eds.), Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 2nd ed., Mosby, 1992.

Gohagan, J.K., Darby, W.P., Spitznagel, E.L. and Tome, A.E., "Scheduling Mammograms for Asymptomatic Women," Preventive Medicine 17: 1988.

Gohagan, J.K., Spitznagel, E.D., Murphy, W.A., Vannier, M.W., Dixon, W.T., Gersell, D.J., Rossnick, S.L., Totty, W.G., Destouet, J.M., Rickman, D.L., Spraggins, T.A. and Butterfield, R.L., "Multispectral Analysis of MR Images of the Breast," Radiology 163: 703-707, 1987.

Gohagan, J.K., Darby, W.P., Spitznagel, E.L., Monsees, B.S. and Tome, A.E., "Radiogenic Breast Cancer Effects of Mammographic Screening," JNCI Oxford Univ. Press 1986; 77:7-76.

Gohagan, J.K., Spitznagel, E.L., McCrate, M.M., Frank, T.B., "ROC Analysis of Mammography and Palpation for Breast Screening," Investigative Radiology 19(6): 587-592, 1984.

Gohagan, J.K., Rodes, N.D., et al., "Individual and Combined Effectiveness of Palpation, Thermography and Mammography in Breast Cancer Screening: Experience of a BCDDP," Preventive Medicine 9: 713-721, 1980.

John K. Gohagan, Ph.D.