E&PH Leadership

Melissa Bondy, Ph.D., Inaugural Department Chair

Dr. Bondy joined the Stanford community in October 2019. In addition to providing leadership for the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, she also serves as associate director for population sciences at the Stanford Cancer Institute, where she spearheads the research enterprise of the institute’s population sciences program, which is designed to reduce the burden of cancer and improve outcomes for patients with cancer.

"Dr. Bondy earned a PhD in epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health.  Before coming to Stanford, she spent nearly two decades at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2001, she became director of the Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Center, a joint center of Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Texas Children’s Hospital. Ten years later, she took on a new role as the associate director of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine’s Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, where she focused much of her research on understanding heredity patterns and genetic susceptibilities in brain and breast cancer...

Bondy serves on the National Cancer Institute’s board of scientific advisers and is a member of the external advisory board for several NCI-designated cancer centers. In 2018, she received the visiting scholar award from the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics." Access the full Stanford appointment announcement

John Witte, Ph.D., MS, Vice Chair

Dr. Witte joined the Stanford community in July 2021. In addition to serving as Vice Chair and professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, and as a professor of Biomedical Data Science and, by courtesy, of Genetics, he will also serve as a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute. 

Dr. Witte is an internationally recognized expert in genetic epidemiology. His scholarly contributions include deciphering the genetic and environmental basis of prostate cancer and developing widely used methods for the genetic epidemiologic study of disease. His prostate cancer work has used comprehensive genome-wide studies of germline genetics, transcriptomics, and somatic genomics to successfully detect novel variants underlying the risk and aggressiveness of this common disease. A key aspect of this work has been distinguishing genetic factors that may drive increased prostate cancer risk and mortality among African American men. Providing an avenue to determine which men are more likely to be diagnosed with clinically relevant prostate cancer and require additional screening or specific treatment can help reduce disparities in disease prevalence and outcomes across populations. Dr. Witte has also developed novel hierarchical and polygenic risk score modeling for undertaking genetic epidemiology studies. These advances significantly improve our ability to detect disease-causing genes and to translate genetic epidemiologic findings into medical practice. 

Dr. Witte has received the Leadership Award from the International Genetic Epidemiology Society (highest award), and the Stephen B. Hulley Award for Excellence in Teaching. His extensive teaching portfolio includes a series of courses in genetic and molecular epidemiology. He has mentored over 50 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, serves on the executive committees of multiple graduate programs, and has directed a National Institutes of Health funded post-doctoral training program in genetic epidemiology for over 20 years. Recently appointed to the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors, Dr. Witte has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Martha Kessler, Executive Director of Finance & Administration

Ms. Kessler has 20 years experience directing organizational finances, staffing and administration at Stanford University. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Finance and Administration for the Department of Health Research and Policy, Population Health Sciences, Basic Science Shared Services Consortium and the Department of Structural Biology. She received the Marsh O'Neill Research Award in 2015 for participating in the perfect NIH score on the Clinical Translational Science Award. She also is the Stanford coordinator for pet-assisted therapy for pet visits to de-stress students, staff and faculty events around campus.