Dr. Jennifer L. Moss

Dr. Jennifer Moss Receives K22 Supporting Research on Cancer Screening in Underserved Populations

Posted: August 19, 2019


CPFP alumna Dr. Jennifer L. Moss is the recipient of a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Transition Career Development Award (K22). The grant will support Dr. Moss as she transitions into her independent faculty position with Penn State College of Medicine. The career development award will fund a study seeking to uncover multilevel barriers and facilitators to cancer screening in rural and racially-segregated communities and how self-sampling can overcome these barriers and increase cancer screening in these underserved populations.

Dr. Moss believes the project, with a study population of women ages 30-65 years in rural and segregated counties in Pennsylvania, has the potential to determine the feasibility of self-sampling, an alternative to provider-sampling, as a mechanism for screening underserved women for cervical and colorectal cancer. Long-term, Moss hopes this study can launch a precedent and institute protocols for screening to take place largely outside of the clinic, eliminating the need for patients to take time off work, travel to a clinic, etc., in order to get the screening tests they need.

According to Dr. Moss, the idea for this project emerged during her time as a fellow at the NCI. Moss recounted, “I developed the idea for this project through conversations with mentors, fellows, and other researchers while I was a Cancer Prevention Fellow. The program allowed me the time, flexibility, and independence to develop this idea while working on other projects and identifying areas where better science was needed to reduce health disparities. I worked on the initial application for this project through the CPFP grant writing course, and I was able to draw on the resources at the CPFP and NCI to improve and refine my application.”

Dr. Moss is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. In June 2019, she published “Providing higher resolution indicators of rurality in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database: Implications for patient privacy and research” in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The study focuses on census tract-level measures of rurality and their ability to add specificity to studies attempting to understand the relationship between rurality and cancer incidence and survival.


Jennifer L. Moss, PhD
Alumna, 2015 CPFP Cohort


Dr. Christopher Wheldon

Dr. Christopher Wheldon Recognized as 2019 Sexual & Gender Minority Community and Ally Leader Awardee

Posted: August 2, 2019


Dr. Christopher Wheldon, a recent CPFP alumnus, was honored with the 2019 Sexual & Gender Minority (SGM) Community and Ally Leader Award. This award, sponsored by the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, honors NIH employees and fellows for their exemplary work as researchers advancing the frontiers of SGM research.

Dr. Wheldon was recognized for his research focusing on health topics critical to the SGM community, including HPV awareness, culturally competent care, and tobacco use among sexual minorities. His July 2019 publication in LGBT Health, “Cigarette Smoking Among Youth at the Intersection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” aims to identify subgroups of SGM youth who are most vulnerable to tobacco use. The study suggests that transgender boys may be at higher risk for early and current cigarette use regardless of their sexual identity and emphasizes a need for focused attention within specific subgroups of SGM youth in tobacco control research and practice.

Dr. Wheldon credits many players at the NCI for supporting his research endeavors: “The NCI, and the CPFP in particular, have provided great mentorship, encouragement, and support to advance my research program focused on cancer disparities in SGM populations. A special thanks is in order to Dr. Richard Moser, my preceptor, and the Behavioral Research Program for being passionate advocates of their fellows.” In August 2019, Dr. Wheldon will begin the next chapter in his career as Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Public Health at Temple University.


Christopher Wheldon, PhD, MSPH, MEd
Alumnus, 2015 CPFP Cohort


 Diana Fox, left, senior director of hospital systems with the northeast region, and Nikki Johnston, health systems manager with the American Cancer Society (ACS), present researcher Shirley Bluethmann of Penn State Cancer Institute with a certificate representing ACS funding she received to study exercise and medication adherence in older breast cancer survivors.

Dr. Shirley Bluethmann Receives American Cancer Society Funding, Studies Exercise and Medication Adherence in Older Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted: May 1, 2019


CPFP alumna Dr. Shirley Bluethmann received a Mentored Research Scholar Grant for Applied and Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society (MRSG-18-136-01-CPPB) for her project "Using Exercise to Improve Arthralgia and AI Adherence in Older Cancer Survivors: (the REJOIN Trial)." The $728,000 career development award will support Dr. Bluethmann as she pursues specialized training in cancer and aging and investigates the effects of a self-management program, combining education and exercise, on joint pain associated with aromatase inhibitors (a treatment commonly prescribed to women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer).

Dr. Bluethmann believes the study, focusing on breast cancer survivors over the age of 65, has the potential to “change clinical practice by increasing use of an evidence-based, non-pharmacological method for the management of a common but problematic treatment symptom.” According to Dr. Bluethmann, the CPFP helped her build her brand as a national leader in behavioral research in cancer and aging and thus played a key role in preparing her for this project and American Cancer Society (ACS) recognition.

Dr. Bluethmann is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine and an associate member of the Penn State Cancer Institute. In addition to her ACS funded research, Dr. Bluethmann published in Nature Communications in January 2019. Her article “Suicide among cancer patients” seeks to uncover the prevalence and risk of suicide in adults diagnosed with cancer.

Image Credit: Penn State College of Medicine


Shirley Bluethmann, PhD, MPH
Alumna, 2014 CPFP Cohort


Drs. Loomans-Kropp and Pierre-Victor

Dr. Loomans-Kropp, Dr. Pierre-Victor, with Division of Cancer Prevention Mentors, Publish on Personalized Risk

Posted: April 5, 2019


Current CPFP fellow Dr. Holli Loomans-Kropp, recently published a review in Precision Oncology titled “Cancer prevention and screening: the next step in the era of precision medicine.” In this piece, Loomans-Kropp and her Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) preceptor and Chief of the Gastrointestinal and Other Cancers Research Group, Dr. Asad Umar, summarized the current state of cancer prevention efforts along the cancer control continuum. They discussed historical efforts in prevention, current prevention and early detection recommendations, and current knowledge of the molecular factors that may impact one’s risk of cancer. The review also explored the future of cancer prevention in the current age of precision medicine and personalized care.

Loomans-Kropp and Umar highlighted the necessity of combining generalized cancer prevention techniques with individualized methods. Loomans-Kropp noted, “Better understanding one’s personalized risk of one, or multiple, cancers may better inform how she or he should approach cancer prevention. This type of knowledge will allow for better and more precise guidance in cancer prevention.”

In February 2019, current CPFP fellow Dr. Dudith Pierre-Victor, with mentor and Chief of DCP’s Early Detection Research Branch Dr. Paul Pinsky, published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study, titled “Association of Nonadherence to Cancer Screening Examinations with Mortality from Unrelated Causes: A Secondary Analysis of the PLCO Cancer Screening Trial” examined the association between nonadherence to cancer screening tests and mortality in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO), excluding mortality from cancer studied in the trial. Pierre-Victor and Pinsky observed higher mortality among participants who were nonadherent to baseline cancer screening tests compared to those who fully adhered. A general behavior profile of nonadherence, of which nonadherence specifically with trial protocol screening is a marker, was found to be associated with a very substantial increased risk of death.

Dr. Pierre-Victor stressed the impact of this study on middle-aged and older populations: “Study participants’ adherence profile is a behavioral characteristic that merits investigation since it is associated with an increased risk of mortality among middle-aged and older adults.”


Holli Loomans-Kropp, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2017 CPFP Cohort


Dudith Pierre-Victor, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2016 CPFP Cohort


Dr. Emily Vogtmann

Dr. Emily Vogtmann Appointed Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator

Posted: March 1, 2019


CPFP alumna Dr. Emily Vogtmann has been named an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator with the NCI Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG). These tenure-track level positions are for creative, independent thinkers eager to take on novel, high-impact research.

As an Earl Stadtman Investigator, Dr. Vogtmann will conduct research focusing on how the human microbiota is related to cancer risk, both how it directly associates with cancer and how it may be a mediator in the relationship between specific exposures and cancer. She is eager to begin new studies that will measure bacteria and other microbes: “These different types of microbes may interact to change the risk of various cancers, such as cancer of the oral cavity. I am also planning on looking at whether microbial changes over time may be related to cancer risk.”

The CPFP supported Dr. Vogtmann as she explored various research opportunities at the NCI. In her new role, she has the potential to provide similar support to future fellows. Dr. Vogtmann expressed, “Both of my post-doctoral mentors were former Cancer Prevention Fellows. And now I’m looking forward to mentoring trainees and could one day be a preceptor for a new Cancer Prevention Fellow.”


Emily Vogtmann, PhD, MPH
Alumna, 2013 CPFP Cohort


Dr. Susan T. Vadaparampil

Dr. Susan T. Vadaparampil Named Moffitt Cancer Center’s Associate Center Director of Community Outreach & Engagement

Posted: December 28, 2018


CPFP alum Dr. Susan T. Vadaparampil has been appointed Associate Center Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at the NCI-designated Moffitt Cancer Center. In her new leadership role, Dr. Vadaparampil will focus her efforts on defining and characterizing Moffitt’s catchment area; engaging with key stakeholders to monitor and prioritize cancer-related research issues with a focus on health equity; facilitate research relevant to those Moffitt serves across scientific programs; accelerate the adoption of new clinical guidelines and evidence-based interventions; and monitor the impact of Moffitt’s activities on the community.

NCI Director Dr. Ned Sharpless recently classified the NCI Cancer Centers Program as an “important program that gives us a way to reach into the community and get information from the community that is very vital to the NCI.” As she strengthens partnerships between Moffitt and its surrounding catchment area, Dr. Vadaparampil is now poised to advance Director Sharpless’ vision for NCI’s Cancer Centers.

Dr. Vadaparampil’s time in the CPFP was essential in preparing her for this stage in her career. Vadaparampil emphasized, “I learned to be comfortable communicating across disciplines, the value of team science, and the need for every scientist, regardless of discipline, to consider how their research contributes to the ‘end game’ of cancer prevention and control research by making an impact on public health and/or clinical practice.”


Susan T. Vadaparampil, PhD, MPH
Alumna, 2000 CPFP Cohort


Drs. Joseph Shearer and Erik Willis

2018 TFRA Recipients: Drs. Joseph Shearer & Erik Willis

Posted: December 14, 2018


The 2018 Trans-Fellowship Research Award (TFRA) recipients are Drs. Joseph Shearer and Erik Willis. This award is specific to the CPFP, and only fellows can serve as Principal Investigators.  The TFRA is a competitive, one-year research award that is meant to foster creative team science approaches to advance the field of cancer prevention, while leveraging the unique diversity of CPFP fellows' scientific backgrounds.

They were awarded $15,000 for their project Physical activity and adiposity risk factors for the development of multiple myeloma in the UK biobank.

Dr. Shearer is a molecular epidemiologist, and Dr. Willis is an exercise physiologist by training. When asked why they decided to collaborate, Dr. Shearer noted, "We both shared a common research interest of studying modifiable risk factors such as obesity, but we approached it differently. The TFRA experience exemplifies the collaborative nature of the CPFP and provides the freedom to develop multidisciplinary projects that we might not have had the opportunity to explore in a traditional postdoctoral setting."


Joseph Shearer, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2017 CPFP Cohort


Erik Willis, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2016 CPFP Cohort


Dr. Tamara Litwin

Dr. Tamara Litwin Receives 2018 NCI Director's Intramural Innovation Award

Posted: November 27, 2018


Dr. Tamara Litwin is one of the recipients of the 2018 NCI Director's Intramural Innovation Award. This distinguished award is designed to support the development of highly innovative and novel approaches and technology aimed at significant cancer-related problems. The program offers one-time Career Development Awards that are targeted to postdoctoral fellows, staff scientists, and staff clinicians at all levels.  Dr. Litwin received $10,000 for her proposal, entitled Evaluation of Biomarkers for in-vivo Imaging-Based Detection of Cervical Precancers in Low-Resource Settings. Dr. Litwin commented, "The MPH obtained as part of the CPFP was critical for me to conduct this type of research and allowed me to frame the research questions." 


Tamara Litwin, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2015 CPFP Cohort


Dr. Brittny Davis Lynn

Publication in Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) Examines Breast Cancer Incidence Trends by Ethnicity

Posted: February 1, 2019


In July 2018, CPFP Fellow Dr. Brittny Davis Lynn published an article in the JNCI titled “Black-White Breast Cancer Incidence Trends: Effects of Ethnicity.” The article examined breast cancer incidence trends among non-Hispanic white women, Hispanic white women, and non-Hispanic black women in the NCI SEER 13 Registries Database from 1990 through 2014. Davis Lynn and colleagues confirmed the convergence of incidence rates for blacks and whites, but when they analyzed incidence rates by Hispanic ethnicity, the pattern did not hold: incidence rates were highest among non-Hispanic whites, followed by non-Hispanic blacks, and then Hispanic whites.

When asked about the public health message of this research, Dr. Davis Lynn explained, “It is important to study racial/ethnic groups separately because they have different health behaviors and social experiences that affect their risk for disease—in this case, breast cancer incidence.”

Dr. Davis Lynn was previously recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for her work on a similar topic. She was awarded an AACR Scholar-in-Training Award to attend the 2017 AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. Dr. Davis Lynn received this travel award to present her abstract, “Current and future incidence rates of invasive breast cancer between Black and White women.”


Brittny Davis Lynn, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2015 CPFP Cohort


Drs. Megan Clarke and Claire Meaney

2018 William G. Coleman Jr., Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Innovation Award Recipients: Drs. Megan Clarke and Claire Meaney

Posted: February 1, 2019


CPFP Fellow Dr. Megan Clarke and CPFP alumna Dr. Claire Meaney were 2018 recipients of the prestigious William G. Coleman Jr., Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Innovation Award.

The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) established this competitive award to support innovative research that has the potential for high impact in any area of minority health and health disparities research. Dr. Anna Nápoles, Scientific Director at NIMHD applauded the efforts of the postdoctoral fellow, staff scientist, and staff clinician award recipients: “The work of these researchers will help us move toward championing our mission of improving minority health and reducing health disparities. These projects hold promise of a better understanding of some of the significant health differences which exist within underrepresented race/ethnic groups.”

Drs. Clarke and Meaney, two of the five award recipients, each received this $15,000 research award to study key determinants of health inequities and advance scientific knowledge within the field. Dr. Clarke’s project “Evaluating the associations of symptom appraisal and barriers to care with endometrial cancer presentation and outcomes in a diverse population” and Dr. Meaney’s project “Inflammation-Based markers of lung cancer risk and survival in African Americans” were both recognized in June 2018.


Megan Clarke, PhD, MHS
Current Fellow, 2016 CPFP Cohort


Claire Meaney, PhD, MPH
Alumna, 2015 CPFP Cohort

Dr. Elizabeth Salerno

Dr. Elizabeth Salerno Receives National Recognition for Study: “Dose-Response Effects of Acute Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors”

Posted: February 1, 2019


CPFP Fellow, Dr. Elizabeth Salerno, received meritorious abstract and citation awards from the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) during their 39th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in April 2018. Dr. Salerno received these awards for her abstract titled, “Dose-Response Effects of Acute Aerobic Exercise on Cognitive Function in Breast Cancer Survivors,” which was also featured as a press release to leading media outlets during the meeting.

Cancer survivors often experience cognitive problems, including poor memory, loss of concentration, slower processing of information, and reduced executive function. Dr. Salerno’s study, conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explored the effects of exercise on cognitive function in breast cancer survivors. Using a sample of 48 breast cancer survivors, she and her colleagues administered a battery of cognitive tasks before and after different durations of exercise and sitting. The results showed that women either maintained or improved their performance on the cognitive tasks after some level of exercise, compared to poorer performance after sitting.

Dr. Salerno highlighted the impact of this study on populations of breast cancer survivors: “Cancer survivors tend to score worse on a wide variety of cognitive functioning tasks compared to people without cancer. These findings suggest that walking for 20-30 minutes may help breast cancer survivors maintain or improve their cognitive function. We know that exercise protects against a host of diseases already, and moderate exercise may also help breast cancer survivors protect their cognitive functioning.”


Elizabeth Salerno, PhD, MPH
Current Fellow, 2017 CPFP Cohort