Program Spotlight

Pictured (left to right): Drs. Margarita Correa-Mendez, Percy Guzman, and Waruiru Mburu.

Program Spotlight - NCI Global Health Interest Group

July 5, 2022
In commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day, the NCI Fellow’s Global Health Interest Group (GHIG) will host a virtual panel on diversity, equity and inclusion in global health. This event…

In commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day, the NCI Fellow’s Global Health Interest Group (GHIG) will host a virtual panel on diversity, equity and inclusion in global health. This event aims to provide an opportunity for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) community to engage in dialogue with global health experts on specific actions that we can take and issues we should be sensitive to around equity in global health research and practice.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Global Health
Virtual Panel
Date: July 19th, 2022
Time: 9:00-10.30AM (EDT)

NCI Global Health Equity Panel

“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it.” -Nelson Mandela

Our panelists, Dr. Arachu Castro, Dr. Evelyn Gitau, Dr. Ravi Kannan and Dr. Laetitia Rispel and GHIG fellow moderators, will facilitate a discussion on actions that the broader public health community can take to enhance equity and justice in global health research and practice. Attendees will learn about the panelists’ career trajectories in global health, the role of early career scientists in advancing global health equity and the panelists’ perspectives on ways that NIH can continue its commitment to reducing inequities in collaboration with partners locally and globally. Through deep discussion, attendees will gain an understanding of the challenges scientists face when implementing global health equity initiatives.

History

The NCI Global Health Interest Group (GHIG), established in October 2021, is a fellow-led NCI interest group aimed at facilitating learning and networking among fellows interested in global cancer research and control with a particular emphasis on work in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The group is open to all fellows (postbaccalaureate, predoctoral, postdoctoral, and clinical), across NCI, with interests in global cancer research and control with an emphasis on work in LMICs.

GHIG was founded by CPFP fellows Drs. Waruiru Mburu and Margarita Correa-Mendez with the vision to promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing between fellows, across NCI divisions, engaged or interested in issues of global cancer research and control. Current group leadership includes CPFP fellow Dr. Percy Guzman. With the guidance of GHIG Advisors, Mishka Kohli Cira, M.P.H.; Sudha Sivaram, Dr.PH., M.P.H.: and Lymarie Maldonado-Báez, Ph.D., M.S.; the NCI GHIG supports its members’ professional development in topics such as scientific communication, leadership, and career planning. As well as collaborate with NCI-CGH to provide guidance and input on CGH-led research, trainings, and partnership activities for fellows. The GHIG organizes and facilitates trans-disciplinary global oncology seminars, trainings, and networking opportunities with experts in the field. The first global health equity virtual panel titled, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Global Health, will be held on July 19, 2022, and is open to the NIH-wide community.

To join the NCI Global Health Interest and/or to be added to the Listserv, please email NCIGHIG@NIH.GOV

Margarita Correa-Mendez, Ph.D., M.S.
NCI Global Health Interest Group (GHIG) Co-founder


Percy Guzman, Sc.M., M.D.
NCI Global Health Interest Group (GHIG) Leader


Waruiru Mburu, Ph.D., M.P.H.
NCI Global Health Interest Group (GHIG) Co-founder

Center for Cancer Research (CCR) Health Disparities Flex Award Winners Drs. Alexandra Harris and Brittany Lord

April 8, 2022
Cancer Prevention Fellows, Drs. Alexandra Harris and Brittany Lord, together with their mentors, Drs. Stefan Ambs and Gretchen Gierach, were awarded the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) Health…

Cancer Prevention Fellows, Drs. Alexandra Harris and Brittany Lord, together with their mentors, Drs. Stefan Ambs and Gretchen Gierach, were awarded the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) Health Disparities Flex Award for their proposal, “Investigation of the immune microenvironment landscape in tumor and normal breast tissues from women of African ancestry through an integrated single-cell and computational pathology approach.” The CCR Health Disparity Awards are a new category under the CCR Flex Program. This intramural funding mechanism funds high-risk, high-impact projects focused on reducing cancer health disparities. The team will use a multi-pronged approach to characterize the spatial transcriptomic architecture and chromatin accessibility at the single-cell level, both pre- and post-tumor development. The proposed work can offer insight into etiological factors that may contribute to both the development and the aggressive characteristics of breast tumors in women of African descent.

To learn more about the CCR Health Disparities Flex Award, visit here.

Alexandra Harris, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.
CCR Health Disparities Flex Awardee


Brittany Lord, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H
CCR Health Disparities Flex Award

CPFP Fellow Dr. Kate Elfer Accepted into the 2022 Cohort of the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowship for Postdoctoral Women Scientists in Cancer Research

March 14, 2022
Third year Cancer Prevention Fellow, Dr. Kate Elfer, was accepted into The Sallie Rosen Kaplan (SRK) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists’ 2022 cohort. The SRK fellowship is a highly…

Third year Cancer Prevention Fellow, Dr. Kate Elfer, was accepted into The Sallie Rosen Kaplan (SRK) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists’ 2022 cohort. The SRK fellowship is a highly competitive, unpaid, annual, one-year program that provides additional mentoring opportunities, networking, seminars, and workshops to help prepare NCI’s female and non-binary postdoctoral fellows for the competitive nature of the job market and help them to transition to independent research careers.
As someone who never had a non-male research mentor, Dr. Elfer is extremely grateful that the program has connected her with Dr. Romina Goldszmid (Earl Stadtman Investigator, CCR), a secondary mentor who she hopes can help her navigate some of the issues unique to being a woman in a male dominated field. Dr. Elfer remains thankful to her primary preceptor, Dr. Brandon Gallas (FDA/CDRH/OSEL/DIDSR), for giving her the time and space to grow as a researcher by applying to the SRK program.

The SRK program’s goal to assist women and nonbinary postdocs on their path to independence was particularly meaningful to Dr. Elfer, who saw this program as an opportunity to ready herself for her transition to an independent research career. “Over the last year, I have established my research projects and what training and resources are available to me as a Cancer Prevention and Interagency Oncology Task Force fellow. I believe the SRK helps complete my training experience as a CPFP fellow by focusing on the “soft-skills” needed for success: emotional intelligence, leadership, self-reflection, goal identification, and building a support network. The SRK program provides the mentorship, the coaching, and the skills to achieve my dream of becoming a leader in STEM education.”

The 2022 cohort consists of twelve highly impressive women researchers, all sharing the common experiences of having confidence, drive, and passion impacted negatively solely based on their gender. Dr. Elfer believes the program is already helping them build up the skills and resources within themselves to fulfill their dreams.

To learn more about the 30-week SRK Fellowship, visit Cancer Training at the NCI.

Katherine (Kate) Elfer, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Fellow, The Sallie Rosen Kaplan (SRK) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists

Fellows Advisory Board Leaders Receive NCI Director’s Award

February 14, 2022
The annual NCI Director’s Awards recognize exceptional individual and group performance or special efforts in support of NCI’s biomedical research mission. This year at the NCI Director’s Awards…

The annual NCI Director’s Awards recognize exceptional individual and group performance or special efforts in support of NCI’s biomedical research mission. This year at the NCI Director’s Awards ceremony hosted on February 14, 2022, Cancer Prevention Fellows, Drs. Derek Brown, Alexandra Budenz, Ian Buller, Michelle Doose, Sydney O’Connor, Heather Platter, Esmeralda Ramírez-Peña, Naoise Synnott, and Jacqueline B. Vo were honored with NCI Director’s Emerging Leader Awards. This achievement was well-earned through their leadership of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program’s (CPFP) Fellows Advisory Board (FAB) during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This FAB leadership group was nominated by CPFP’s Learning & Development Specialist, Ms. Ann Maxson, and CPFP’s Director, Dr. Lisa Signorello, for spearheading innovative opportunities for fellows to develop skills and community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, as the NIH community transitioned to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of emerging leaders swiftly and selflessly volunteered to serve in leadership roles on the FAB. They were quick to recognize the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their fellow colleagues and to ramp up activities to serve them. They developed strategic programming for building virtual community and advocating for the needs of the fellows, for advancing the fellows’ scientific and professional development, and for promoting their professional networking. In these efforts, they cumulatively hosted dozens of innovative events that aimed to offset and ease the pandemic’s effects on fellows. They served as exemplary role models as they motivated and empowered NCI trainees to achieve and connect during a time of great uncertainty. Their empathy, vision, and commitment to their colleagues was a true demonstration of their outstanding leadership abilities.

Derek Brown, Ph.D., M.S.


Alexandra Budenz, Dr.P.H., M.A.


Ian Buller, Ph.D., M.A.


Michelle Doose, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Sydney O’Connor, Ph.D.


Heather Platter, Ph.D., M.S.


Esmeralda Ramírez-Peña, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Naoise Synnott, Ph.D., M.P.H.


Jacqueline B. Vo, Ph.D., R.N., M.P.H.
NCI Director’s Emerging Leader Awardees

CPFP Fellows Drs. Brittany Lord and Waruiru Mburu Accepted into the Diversity Career Development Program

January 12, 2022
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 NCI's Diversity Career Development Program’s participants.…

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.

Brittany Lord (Jenkins), Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H.
NCI Diversity Career Development Program Participant


Waruiru Mburu, Ph.D., M.P.H.
NCI Diversity Career Development Program Participant