George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Cara Frankenfeld, PhD

Associate Professor
Nutrition Affiliate Faculty

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Dr. Frankenfeld is an epidemiologist whose research focuses on understanding the influence on complex exposures on health. She applies advanced quantitative methods to research questions in the areas of nutrition (public health nutrition, microbiome, phytoestrogens), environmental health (chemical exposure), and social determinants of health (residential segregation, spatial factors), with applications across different diseases and health conditions. She teaches courses in epidemiologic methods and biostatistics, and has developed courses across multiple platforms in-class and on-line. Dr. Frankenfeld also applies her epidemiology and biostatistics skills to understand trends in career skills needed for epidemiologists in order to inform her teaching. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Nutrition and is an Associate Editor for the Annals of Epidemiology.


PhD, Epidemiology, University of Washington (2003)

MS, Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona (2000)

BS, Food and Nutrition Sciences (Minor: Chemistry) with Honors, Northern Arizona University (1996)

Personal Websites:


Research Interests

  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Nutrition
  • Health disparities
  • Spatial
  • Microbiome


* Indicates student collaboration

Frankenfeld CL. Trends in employer postings for epidemiology jobs: An analysis of data from 2003-2016. Ann Epidemiol 2017, in press.

Stephenson CJ*, Rossheim ME, Frankenfeld CL, Boncy J, Okech BO, von Fricken ME. Association between bedtime and malaria exposure in the Sud-Est and Ouest Departments of Haiti. Acta Tropica 2017;176:188-191.

Wallace TC, Frankenfeld CL. Dietary protein intake above the current RDA and bone health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Coll Nutr 2017;36(6):481-496.

Miller LM*, Lampe JW, Newton KM, Gundersen G, Fuller S, Reed SD, Frankenfeld CL. Being overweight or obese is associated with harboring a gut microbial community not capable of metabolizing the soy isoflavone daidzein to O-desmethylangolensin in soy-consuming peri- and post-menopausal women. Maturitas, 2017;99:37-42.

Frankenfeld CL. Cardiometabolic risk and gut microbial phytoestrogen metabolite phenotypes. Mol Nutr Food Res 2017;Jul 28.

Atkinson C, Ray RM, Li W, Lin MG, Gao DL, Shannon J, Stalsberg H, Porter PL, Frankenfeld CL, Wähälä K, Thomas DB, Lampe JW. Plasma equol concentration is not associated with breast cancer and fibrocystic breast conditions among women in Shanghai, China. Nutr Res 2016;36(8):863-871.

Gerber LH, Weinstein AA, Frankenfeld CL, Huynh M. Disability among veterans: Analysis of the National Survey of Veterans (1997-2001). Mil Med 2016;181(3):219-26.

Wallace TC, Slavin M, Frankenfeld CL. Systematic review of anthocyanins and markers of cardiovascular disease. Nutrients 2016;8(1) pii:E32.

Frankenfeld CL, Sikaroodi M, Lamb E*, Shoemaker S*, Gillevet PM. High-intensity sweetener consumption and gut microbiome content and predicted gene function in a cross-sectional study of adults in the United States. Ann Epidemiol 2015;25:736-742.

Frankenfeld CL, Leslie TF, Makara MA*. Diabetes, obesity, and recommended fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to food environment sub-types: a cross-sectional analysis of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance, United States Census, and Food Establishment data. BMC Public Health 2015;491. (Designated as "Highly accessed")

Gewa C, Frankenfeld CL, Slavin M, Omondi M. Fish-enhanced and soy-enhanced supplemental snacks are acceptable among pregnant women in rural Kenya. Food Nutr Bull 2014;Suppl 3:180S-187S.

VanMeter Adams A, Frankenfeld CL, Bases J, Espina V, Liotta LA. Extracurricular experiences initially attract students into STEM, while hands-on research maintains their interest in pursuing a STEM education and career. CBE Life Sci Educ 2014;13:687-697.

Althuis M, Weed DL, Frankenfeld CL. Evidence-based mapping of design heterogeneity prior to meta-analysis: a systematic review and research synthesis. Syst Rev 2014;Jul 23;3:80.

Frankenfeld CL. Cardiometabolic risk factors are associated with high urinary enterolactone concentrations, independent of urinary enterodiol concentration and dietary fiber intake in adults. J Nutr 2014,144:1445-53.

Frankenfeld CL, Atkinson C, Wälälä K, Lampe JW. Obesity prevalence in relation to gut microbial environments capable of producing equol or O-desmethylangolensin from the isoflavone daidzein. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Feb 26.

Frankenfeld CL, Poudrier J*, Waters N, Gillevet PM. Past residence outside of the United States is associated with diet quality in adults currently residing in the United States. Am J Human Biol 2014;26:64-72.

Frankenfeld CL. Relationship of obesity and high urinary enterolignan concentrations in 6806 children and adults: analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67:887-889.

Pierobon M*, Frankenfeld CL. Obesity as a risk factor for triple negative breast cancers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Breast Cancer Res Treatment 2013;137:307-314.

Leslie TL, Frankenfeld CL, Makara MA*. The spatial food environment of the DC metropolitan area: clustering, co-location, and categorical differentiation. Appl Geography 2012;35:300-307.

Frankenfeld CL, Poudrier J*, Waters N, Gillevet P, Xu Y. Dietary intake measured from a self-administered, on-line 24-hour recall system compared to four-day diet record in an adult US population. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012;112:1642-1647.

Clarkson TB, Utian WH, Barnes S, Gold B, Basaria SS, Aso T, Kronenberg F, Frankenfeld CL, Cline MJ, Landgren BM, Gallagher JC, Weaver CM, Hodis H, Brinton HN, Diaz R, Maki P, for the NAMS/Utian Isoflavone Translational Symposium. The role of soy isoflavones in menopausal health: report of The North American Menopause Society/Wulf H. Utian Translational Sciences Symposium in Chicago, IL (October 2010). Menopause 2011;18;732-753.

Frankenfeld CL, Lampe JW, Shannon J, Horner NK, Satia JA, Gao DL, Li W, Ray RM, Patterson RE, Chen C, King IB, Thomas DB. Fruit and vegetable intakes in relation to plasma carotenoids and vitamin C concentrations in Chinese women. Public Health Nutr 2011;6:1-9.

Frankenfeld CL. O-desmethylangolensin: the importance of equol’s lesser known cousin to human health. Adv Nutr 2011;2:317-324.

Frankenfeld CL. Dairy consumption is a significant correlate of urinary equol concentration in a representative sample of US adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2011 93:1109-1116.

Frankenfeld CL, Cerhan JR, Coxen W, Davis S, Schenk M, Morton LM, Hartge P, Ward MH. Dietary flavonoid intake and non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk. Am J Clin Nutr 2008 87:1439-1445.

Lampe JW, Nishino Y, Ray RM, Wi C, Li W, Lin MG, Gao DL, Hu Y, Shannon J, Stalsberg H, Porter PL, Frankenfeld CL, Wähälä K, Thomas DB. Plasma isoflavones and fibrocystic breast conditions and breast cancer among women in Shanghai, China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2007;16:2579-2586.

Lunn JC., Kuhnle G, Mai V, Frankenfeld C, Shuker DEG, Glen RC, Goodman JM, Pollock JRA, Bingham SA. The effect of haem in red and processed meat on the endogenous formation of N-nitroso compounds in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Carcinogenesis; 2007 28:685-690.

Song KB, Atkinson C, Frankenfeld CL, Jokela T, Wähälä K, Thomas WK, Lampe JW. Prevalence of daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes differs between Caucasian and Korean-American women and girls. J Nutr 2006; 136:1347-1351.

Frankenfeld CL, McTiernan A, Thomas WK, LaCroix K, McVarish L, Weiss NS, Holt VL, Weiss NS, Holt VL, Schwartz SM, Lampe JW. Bone mineral density in postmenopausal women in relation to daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes. Maturitas 2006; 53:315-324.

Frankenfeld CL, Atkinson C, Thomas WK, Goode EL, Gonzalez A, Jokela T, Wähälä K, Schwartz SM, Li SS, Lampe JW. High concordance of daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes in 92 individuals measured one to three years apart. Brit J Nutr 2005; 94:873-876.

Atkinson C, Frankenfeld CL, Lampe JW. Gut bacterial metabolism of the soy isoflavone daidzein: exploring the relevance to human health; Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2005; 230(3):155-170.

Phillips LE, Frankenfeld CL, Drangsholt M, Koepsell TD, van Belle G, Longstreth Jr WT. Intracranial meningioma and ionizing radiation in occupational and medical settings. Neurology 2005; 64(2):350-352.

Tencer AF, Koepsell TD, Wolf ME, Frankenfeld CL, Buchner DM, Kukull WA, LaCroix AZ, Larson EB, Tautvydas M. Biomechanical properties of shoes and risk of falls in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004; 52:1840-6.

Frankenfeld CL, Atkinson C, Thomas WK, Goode EL, Gonzalez A, Jokela T, Wähälä K, Schwartz SM, Li SS, Lampe JW. Familial aggregation, segregation analysis and environmental correlates of daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2004; 229:902-913.

Frankenfeld CL, McTiernan A, Aiello EJ, Thomas WK, LaCroix K, Schramm J, Weiss NS, Schwartz SM, Holt VL, Lampe JW. Mammographic density in overweight, postmenopausal women in relation to daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev, 2004; 13:1156-1162.

Frankenfeld CL, Lampe JW, Shannon J, Gao DL, Ray RM, Prunty J, Kalhorn T, Wähälä K, Patterson R, Thomas DB. Frequency of soy food consumption and serum isoflavone concentrations among Chinese women in Shanghai. Public Health Nutr 2004; 7:765-772.

Koepsell TD, Wolf ME, Buchner WA, LaCroiz AZ, Tencer AF, Frankenfeld CL, Tautvydas M, Larson EB. Footwear style and risk of falls in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004; 52:1495-1501.

Frankenfeld CL, McTiernan A, Tworoger SS, Atkinson C, Thomas WK, Stanczyk F, Marcinova S, Weigle S, Weiss NS, Holt VL, Schwartz SM, Lampe JW. Serum hormone and sex hormone binding globulin concentrations and urinary hydroxylated estrogen metabolites in postmenopausal women in relation to daidzein-metabolizing phenotypes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2004; 88:399-408.

Frankenfeld CL, Patterson RE, Horner NK, Neuhouser ML, Skor HE, Kalhorn TF, Howald WN, Lampe JW. Validation of a soy food frequency questionnaire and evaluation of correlates of plasma isoflavone concentrations in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr, 2003 Mar; 77:674-80.

Frankenfeld CL, Patterson RE, Kalhorn TF, Howald WN, Lampe JL. Validation of a soy food frequency questionnaire with plasma concentrations of isoflavones in U.S. adults. J Am Dietetic Assoc. 2002 Oct; 102:1407-1413.


Merrill RM, Frankenfeld CL, Mink M, Freeborne N. (2015). Behavioral Epidemiology: Principles and Applications. Jones & Bartlett.

Book Chapter

Frankenfeld C and Taren D. (2000). HIV and Infant Growth. In Watson R (ed.), Nutrition and AIDS (2nd ed.)
CRC Press, Florida, September.


"Cancer health disparities: modeling social, hospital, and policy factors associated with colorectal cancer survival," GMU Provost Multidisciplinary Award. 2017. Role: Co-Principal Investigator.

"Micronutrient intake and adequacy associated with multivitamin intake," Think Healthy Group. 2017. Role: Co-Principal Investigator.

"Association between protein intake and bone health: comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of data of randomized controlled trials and observational studies," Think Healthy Group. 2016. Role: Co-Principal Investigator.

"The joint relationship of oat and milk consumption on health outcomes in adolescents and adults," National Osteoporosis Foundation. 2016. Role: Principal Investigator.

"What facets of socioeconomic inequality and neighborhood-level segregation are associated with consumer behavior, diet quality, and obesity?" GMU Provost Multidisciplinary Award. 2015. Role: Principal Investigator.

"Prebiotic Effects Trial of Isomalto-oligosaccharide," ISOThrive LLC. 2015. Role: Principal Investigator.

"Soy Health Research Program Incentive Award," Soy Health Research Program Incentive Award,
competitive award. 2014. Role: Principal Investigator.

"Dietary Quality in Relation to Prior Residence Outside of the United States," Mason Office of
Research & Economic Development, competitive award. 2014. Role: Principal Investigator.

"A Team of Interdisciplinary Faculty Mentors Prepares Future STEM Leaders through Cutting-Edge Hands-
On Research Experiences," 4-VA Program, competitive award. 2014. Role: Co-Investigator.

"Soy Health Benefits in HIV-Positive Pregnant Women," Soy Health Research Program Incentive
Award, competitive award. 2012. Role: Co-Investigator.

"Obesity in Relation to Complex Diet and Geographical Life History Factors: Follow-Up Microbiome
Analysis," Mason Microbiome Analysis Center, non-competitive award. 2012. Role: Principal Investigator.

"Obesity in Relation to Complex Diet and Geographical Life History Factors," Mason Creative
Award, competitive award. 2009-2010. Role: Principal Investigator.


Honors & Awards

OSCAR Summer Team Research Project (Faculty Leads: Frankenfeld CL, Gallo S, Slavin M), Summer 2017, Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research

On-Line Course Development Award, 2013, Office of Distance Education, George Mason Un

Schools & Programs