CPFP Fellows Drs. Brittany Lord and Waruiru Mburu Accepted into the Diversity Career Development Program
January 12, 2022
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion within NCI and in the wider cancer research workforce. The Diversity Career Development Program (DCDP), established by the Intramural Diversity Workforce Branch (IDWB) within the Center for Cancer Training (CCT), brings us closer to that goal. This competitive program aims to provide NCI postdoctoral trainees with the tools necessary to develop as leaders in independent research careers through a yearlong mentoring program. The CPFP is pleased to announce that two of our fellows, Drs. Brittany Lord and Waruiru Mburu have been selected to be among this year’s 12 DCDP’s participants. Both Dr. Lord’s and Dr. Mburu’s interests and career goals make them an exceptional selection for this program.
Dr. Lord’s postdoctoral work includes investigations into population-level differences in genetic ancestry and their association with breast and prostate cancer prognosis and survival. She looks forward to her participation in the DCDP as she believes the program will help her set attainable goals as an independent researcher, encourage creating strong collaborative networks, and empower her to have difficult conversations around the topic of racism and inclusivity. Following her postdoctoral training, Dr. Lord plans to apply her experience in basic science and epidemiology into her own integrative cancer health disparities research program at a U.S.-based academic institution. She feels that the DCDP will provide her with unique leadership and professional development skills that will bolster her skillset and improve her ability to perform impactful health disparities research.
Dr. Mburu is unwavering in her dedication to eliminating cancer disparities in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). As a Kenya native, Dr. Mburu has a personal connection and strong motivation in addressing health inequities in her home country and beyond. In preparation, she has honed her skills in study design, data analysis and evidence dissemination to different stakeholders. From her past research on tuberculosis and malaria in East Africa to her collaboration with breast cancer stakeholders in Ghana, Dr. Mburu has already begun to make an impact. She has identified the DCDP as an opportunity to build confidence as a leader and build community at NCI. She believes these two key pieces will jolt her career and assist in fulfilling her mission of addressing health disparities in her community.
The DCDP is part of the NCI Equity and Inclusion Program. NCI’s commitment to equity and inclusion aligns with the NIH UNITE initiative, an NIH-wide goal to address structural racism within the scientific community. For more information on the DCDP, visit here.
Dr. Holli Loomans-Kropp selected to serve on the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Trainee and Early Career Committee for 2-year term
May 19, 2021
Dr. Holli Loomans-Kropp, a fourth-year Cancer Prevention Fellow working in the Gastrointestinal and Other Cancers Branch of the Division of Cancer Prevention, has been appointed to serve on the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Trainee and Early Career Committee. The AGA Trainee and Early Career Committee is a 12-member committee that works to enhance the value of AGA membership and career development opportunities for early-career GI scientists. Dr. Loomans-Kropp will occupy the sole seat on the committee reserved for a postdoctoral fellow for a two-year term that formally begins in June 2021.
It was while researching additional leadership and training opportunities outside of NIH that Dr. Loomans-Kropp came across the AGA Trainee and Early Career Committee and decided to apply. She had been participating in other AGA-sponsored activities and events (e.g., Digestive Disease Week) since her graduate school days training in cancer biology at Vanderbilt and found this Committee’s responsibilities especially appealing. Having held positions related to career development, she is excited to be contributing to the “development of educational programs that will be useful to trainees during their fellowship”, in addition to “working with other committees within AGA to better serve the training needs of early-career members.” Personally, she is hoping to gain additional collaborative and leadership skills, as well as build a diverse network of colleagues in similar fields.
Dr. Loomans-Kropp became a member of the AGA in 2017 – the same year that she entered the CPFP. She stated that this international association, founded in 1897, is “a great organization that bridges gastroenterological clinical work and research. Because of my interest in translational research, AGA provides a prime opportunity to stay on top of the advances in gastroenterology, particularly gastrointestinal cancers.” And, for those fellows whose interests lie in gastrointestinal diseases and cancer, she recommends the AGA as “a great way to stay in the know of the hot topics and clinical trials in the field."
Five Cancer Prevention Fellows received the 2021 William G. Coleman Jr., Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Innovation Award from NIMHD
December 21, 2020
Cancer Prevention Fellows (CPFs), all working in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), are among the 2021 recipients of the prestigious William G. Coleman, Jr., Ph.D., Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Innovation Award. Established in 2016 by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, this competitive award program has been designed to support innovative research concepts and ideas with the potential for high impact…
Cancer Prevention Fellows (CPFs), all working in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), are among the 2021 recipients of the prestigious William G. Coleman, Jr., Ph.D., Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Innovation Award. Established in 2016 by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, this competitive award program has been designed to support innovative research concepts and ideas with the potential for high impact in any area of minority health and health disparities research. Recipients receive $15,000 to study key determinants of health inequities and advance scientific knowledge within the field for their 1-year projects. This year, two separate projects led by CFPs won an award:
Dr. Cody Ramin submitted her winning proposal entitled “Endogenous Hormones and Ultrasound Tomography Measures of Breast Density by Race in a Longitudinal Study of Women Undergoing Tamoxifen Therapy.” Dr. Ramin conducts her research in both the Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB) and the Integrative Tumor Epidemiology Branch (ITEB). Dr. Ramin will examine the association between circulating endogenous hormones and changes in breast density prior to and after tamoxifen initiation among Black and White women. In addition to providing etiological insights on breast cancer, she believes that the results could inform targeted approaches for risk reduction and understanding of racial disparities in breast cancer survival.
Drs. Jacqueline Vo, Naoise Synnott, Ian Buller, and Derek Brown submitted their winning collaborative proposal entitled “HDoCS in PLCO: Health Disparities of Cancer Survivors in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.” Dr. Vo conducts her research in REB, Dr. Synnott in ITEB, Dr. Buller in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (OEEB), and Dr. Brown in ITEB. The team cites a lack of research on how lower individual- and population-level socioeconomic status and genetic ancestry affect cancer survivorship. The study aims to bridge this gap by exploring health disparities related to individual- and population-level socioeconomic factors (e.g., income, education, rurality) and genetic ancestry and their relationship with all-cause and cancer-specific mortality among cancer survivors. Once completed, they envision their research could benefit underserved cancer survivors and inform tailored interventions.
Drs. Samira Brooks and Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña Selected as Scholars for the 2020 Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Biotechnology (SMDP Biotech)
November 30, 2020
Current Cancer Prevention Fellows Dr. Samira Brooks and Dr. Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña have been selected by the SMDP Biotech Selection Committee as Scholars for the “2020 Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Biotechnology (SMDP Biotech)”. Promoted by the International Center for Professional Development (ICPD), this 1-year career mentoring program pairs ethnically diverse students and early career researchers with industry mentors who work at biotechnology,…
Current Cancer Prevention Fellows Dr. Samira Brooks and Dr. Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña have been selected by the SMDP Biotech Selection Committee as Scholars for the “2020 Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program for Biotechnology (SMDP Biotech)”. Promoted by the International Center for Professional Development (ICPD), this 1-year career mentoring program pairs ethnically diverse students and early career researchers with industry mentors who work at biotechnology, consumer healthcare, and medical technology companies.
Dr. Brooks’ and Dr. Ramirez-Peña’s mentors will be chosen by the ICPD from a pool of leaders in the biotech field. Each Fellow and her mentor will attend a week-long training session and develop a Personalized Mentoring Plan designed to help her transition to a career in the biotech field. They will receive monthly mentoring support, as well as complimentary registration to attend a major industry-specific conference.
Dr. Brooks’ goal is “to emerge from this training fully versed in the intersections of translational research and industry to continue to make scientific advances to improve our understanding of disease for advancing prevention, detection, and treatment.” In NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, Dr. Brooks receives mentorship from Dr. W. Marston Linehan, Chief of the Urologic Oncology Branch. There, she leads an interdisciplinary study that is investigating mechanisms in cancer-associated reprogramming of iron metabolism in individuals that express a distinct mutation in Ferroportin.
Dr. Ramirez-Peña is working with population and clinical trial level data from breast cancer patients and conducting research in both the Breast and Gynecologic Cancer Research Group in the Division of Cancer Prevention and the Surveillance Research Program in the Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences. During her SMDP mentoring year, Dr. Ramirez-Peña hopes “to learn from professionals in different sectors of the pharmaceutical industry and create a network where I can bridge my research with clinical impact.”
CPFP Alumna, Dr. Krystle A. Lang Kuhs, Receives R01 to Evaluate High-risk Marker of HPV-driven Oropharyngeal Cancer in People Living with HIV
June 24, 2020
CPFP alumna Krystal A. Lang Kuhs, Ph.D., M.P.H. has recently been awarded a 5-year R01 grant from the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) for a project entitled “HPV16 E6 Antibody Detection as an Early Marker of Oropharyngeal Cancer Among Men Living with HIV”. HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC) is the most rapidly increasing HPV-related malignancy in the general US population. During the last few decades, this head and neck cancer has…
CPFP alumna Krystal A. Lang Kuhs, Ph.D., M.P.H. has recently been awarded a 5-year R01 grant from the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) for a project entitled “HPV16 E6 Antibody Detection as an Early Marker of Oropharyngeal Cancer Among Men Living with HIV”. HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC) is the most rapidly increasing HPV-related malignancy in the general US population. During the last few decades, this head and neck cancer has increased by more than 200%, with people living with HIV (PLWH) having a disproportionately increased incidence of this non-AIDS defining cancer. Dr. Kuhs’ natural history study will evaluate the ability of the HPV16 E6 marker to identify a sub-population of PLWH at highest risk for developing HPV-OPC and determine which head and neck cancer screening would be most effective.
Kuhs began studying HPV during her Cancer Prevention Fellowship under her mentor and former CPFP fellow, Dr. Aimée Kreimer, who was the first to discover that the HPV16 E6 antibody marker was present in the blood years before HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer diagnosis. After leading several important studies that showed the marker was very sensitive and specific for HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer, the next step was to test its’ usefulness for screening. "When I came to Vanderbilt, I focused my efforts on building the clinical collaborations and generating the preliminary data to conduct the study. Finally, all the hard work paid off and the study was funded in May.”
Concurrent with her work on the R01, Dr. Kuhs is continuing to augment her training in clinical epidemiology, biomedical informatics, and advanced biostatistics with a K07 grant funded by the NCI. Now in her third year of this Career Development Award, she has been conducting research to examine the potential utility of using HPV-specific biomarkers to identify patients at highest risk for recurrence of HPV-OPC.
Dr. Kuhs has been Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center since 2016. She is trained in both immunology and epidemiology and has conducted research aimed at applying basic science findings to population-based studies.