Grayson Thompson - Undergraduate Researcher (Vandy Class of 2018)

Correlating intravenous drug abuse with hepatocellular carcinoma in electronic medical records.


Hometown -  Greensboro, NC

Major in Medicine, Health and Society

Pre-medical student, Vanderbilt University College of Arts & Sciences



The well established links between intravenous drug use and hepatitis C infection are matched by the equally strong connection between hepatitis C and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although this seemingly obvious transitive relationship could not have gone unnoticed, we have failed to find a definitive study in the literature that correlates intravenous drug use to hepatocellular carcinoma. A large body of literature explores the connection between drugs and cancer, but these studies mainly focus on anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or marijuana) connected to a very broad range of cancers. Here, we propose to correlate intravenous drug use to hepatocellular carcinoma, as shown by a comorbidity of intravenous drug addiction and cancer/pre-cancer diagnosis, using the de-identified electronic medical record synthetic derivative of Bio-VU. 


We hypothesize that the causative links between intravenous drug use and hepatitis C, and from hepatitis C to hepatocellular carcinoma, will reveal a strong correlation between intravenous drug use and hepatocellular carcinoma. Establishing this correlation as a risk factor for the development of liver cancer may provide counselors, community leaders, primary caregivers and media with more approaches to dissuade drug abuse, in a similar vein to tactics of successful anti-smoking campaigns. The continued rise of hepatocellular carcinoma incidence within underserved populations and U.S. racial minorities underscores the impact this new risk factor might have on these particularly vulnerable populations.

The Journal of Biological Chemistry Herb Tabor Award to Ray Blind Vanderbilt University.
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National Cancer Institute Transition to Indepedence Award to Ray Blind Vanderbilt University
National Institute of General Medical Sciences Institutional Research and Career Development Fellowship to Ray Blind, Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center
Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center
Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology
Vanderbilt Center for Structural Biology
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