2021 Wm. G. Coleman Award Recipients

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. 

Cody Ramin, Ph.D., Sc.M.
Current Fellow, 2018 CPFP Cohort
Jacqueline Vo, Ph.D., R.N., M.P.H.
Current Fellow, 2018 CPFP Cohort
Naoise Synnott, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Current Fellow, 2018 CPFP Cohort
Ian Buller, Ph.D., M.A.
Current Fellow, 2019 CPFP Cohort
Derek Brown, Ph.D., M.S.
Current Fellow, 2019 CPFP Cohort
CPFP Fellows Samira Brooks, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Esmeralda Ramirez-Pena, Ph.D., M.P.H.

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.”

Samira Brooks, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Current Fellow, 2017 CPFP Cohort
Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Current Fellow, 2018 CPFP Cohort
Krystle A. Lang Kuhs, Ph.D., M.P.H.

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.

Krystle A. Lang Kuhs, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Alumna, 2011 CPFP Cohort
CPFP Fellow Dr. Sabrina Tsang, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Sabrina Tsang’s Research Reinforces Cross-Protective Efficacy of the Bivalent HPV Vaccine in the Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial

April 27, 2020

Dr. Sabrina Tsang, a current CPFP Fellow housed in the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), recently published a manuscript titled “Durability of Cross-Protection by Different Schedules of the Bivalent HPV Vaccine: the CVT Trial.” The piece was released February 24, 2020, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Persistent infection with carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary cause of cervical cancer, with HPV…

Dr. Sabrina Tsang, a current CPFP Fellow housed in the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), recently published a manuscript titled “Durability of Cross-Protection by Different Schedules of the Bivalent HPV Vaccine: the CVT Trial.” The piece was released February 24, 2020, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Persistent infection with carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) is a necessary cause of cervical cancer, with HPV types 16/18 causing about 70% of all cervical cancer cases and HPV31/33/45 accounting for another 13%. The Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial (CVT) has previously documented cross-protection of the bivalent HPV vaccine against HPV31/33/45 up to seven years after vaccination, even with one dose of the vaccine.  However, the durability of such protection remained unknown. In this study, Dr. Tsang and her collaborators evaluated the efficacy of different vaccine schedules against HPV31/33/45 out to 11 years post-vaccination, also expanding to other non-targeted HPV types. 

The study determined that significant cross-protection afforded by the bivalent vaccine against HPV31/33/45 was sustained and remained stable over 11 years. Dr. Tsang emphasizes the impact of the study results: “Our findings on the durability of cross-protective efficacy of the bivalent vaccine suggest that it may protect against a greater percentage of cervical cancers than researchers had anticipated.” Read more about this study and a complementary study led by Dr. Tsang’s NCI DCEG preceptor, Dr. Aimée Kreimer, in NCI’s Cancer Currents Blog

After identifying cross-protected HPV types, Dr. Tsang will conduct a follow-up study to evaluate vaccine efficacy at the HPV lineage level.  She hopes that the genetics of HPV can help shed light on the phenomenon of cross-protection.

Sabrina Tsang, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Current Fellow, 2016 CPFP Cohort
Peter DelNero

Dr. Peter DelNero Selected to Serve on the AACR Associate Member Council

April 15, 2020

Dr. Pete DelNero, a current CPFP Fellow, has been selected to serve on the American Association for Cancer Research’s (AACR) Associate Member Council (AMC) for a three-year term. The AMC is comprised of students and fellows presently training in the field of cancer research. As a council member, Dr. DelNero will work with counterparts to develop and promote AACR programs aimed at supporting early-career investigators.

After a review of applicants’ research,…

Dr. Pete DelNero, a current CPFP Fellow, has been selected to serve on the American Association for Cancer Research’s (AACR) Associate Member Council (AMC) for a three-year term. The AMC is comprised of students and fellows presently training in the field of cancer research. As a council member, Dr. DelNero will work with counterparts to develop and promote AACR programs aimed at supporting early-career investigators.

After a review of applicants’ research, leadership, and extracurricular experiences, only four Associate member candidates are selected to serve on the AMC each year. Dr. DelNero will bring to the council an impressive background in biomedical engineering, a current research program in implementation science, and a strong commitment to community engagement.  Equipped with these qualifications, Dr. DelNero will join peers on the AMC to act in an advisory role to the AACR on issues affecting emerging cancer researchers.

Associate members play an important role in developing the commitments and priorities that ultimately shape the research agenda. By serving on the AMC, Dr. DelNero will press goals that are most important to trainees.

Dr. DelNero says he appreciates the continuous support that he receives for professional formation, especially from CPF staff and colleagues. The AMC position allows Dr. DelNero to contribute his energy and talents to enhance the experiences of AACR’s early-career scientists.

Peter (Pete) DelNero, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Current Fellow, 2018 CPFP Cohort