August 31, 2023
The Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program recently announced its 2023 Merit Award Winners, recognizing the exceptional contributions of Drs. Kate Elfer, Alexandra Harris, Jennifer McGee-Avila, and…
The Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program recently announced its 2023 Merit Award Winners, recognizing the exceptional contributions of Drs. Kate Elfer, Alexandra Harris, Jennifer McGee-Avila, and Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña. The winners were honored at the Annual Potluck, a celebration marking the culmination of a year and the welcoming of a new cohort of fellows.
Dr. Kate Elfer, a recipient of the program's Merit Award, has made significant strides in various areas of cancer research. Their expertise spans digital pathology, medical devices, regulatory aspects of diagnostic devices, artificial intelligence/machine learning, image perception, and the integration of sex and gender in research. Dr. Elfer's contributions have been supported by research funds from prestigious organizations such as the NCI-FDA Interagency Oncology Task Force and the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA/CDRH Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories. They have developed continuing medical education courses and been recognized for their involvement in esteemed events, including the STEM Representation Matters Series at Brown University and the Biomedical Engineering Departmental Seminars at UMass Lowell. Dr. Elfer's commitment extends to serving as a co-chair in working groups such as the FDA DigiPath and AI/Machine Learning Working Groups. Additionally, they actively mentors aspiring researchers through programs like the CPFP Peer Mentoring Program and FDA PRIDE Mentoring Committee. Their exceptional contributions to the Peer Mentoring Program have earned her the prestigious NCI Director's Champion Award in 2023. Dr. Elfer also takes an active role in service within the CPFP, they served as former co -chair of the Fellows Advisory Board CDSS committee, and organizes the CPFP Book Club.
Dr. Alexandra Harris, another recipient of the 2023 Merit Award, has made remarkable strides in cancer research. Her dedication to bringing the worlds of laboratory science and molecular epidemiology to study the breast tumor microenvironment, molecular underpinnings of epidemiologic risk factors, and breast cancer disparities in women of African descent has garnered widespread recognition and support. Dr. Harris has been honored with prestigious accolades such as the CPFP Transdisciplinary Fellowship Research Award, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG )Intramural Research Award, and, together with her mentors, the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) Health Disparities Flex Award. Her commitment to science communication, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) , and outreach is evident through her leadership roles in significant initiatives like the CPFP Grants and Scientific Writing Committee and active participation in the DCEG Cancer Health Disparities Fellows Interest Group, DCEG Inclusivity Minute Project, and NCI Cancer Community Partnership. Dr. Harris's passion for mentorship is exemplified through her involvement in programs like the CPFP Peer Mentoring Program for which she earned an NCI Director's Champion Award, and STEM for Her, where she empowers aspiring researchers and promotes diversity in STEM.
Dr. Jennifer McGee-Avila has also been honored with a merit award for her notable contributions to cancer prevention research. Her achievements span a wide range of areas, including cancer prevention in people with HIV, cervical cancer, HPV-associated cancers, cancer inequities, and public health policy. Dr. McGee-Avila's active participation in influential initiatives such as the NIH Federal Cervical Cancer Collaborative, focusing on cervical cancer elimination, and the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) Evidence-Based Cancer Control Policy Research Working Group, and the DCEG Cancer Health Disparities Fellows Interest Group, showcases her dedication to the field. She has been recognized with prestigious awards, including the NCI Director's Champion Award and the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowship. Dr. McGee-Avila's involvement in various working groups, councils, and committees highlights her commitment to addressing cancer health disparities. As a mentor, she actively contributes to programs like the CPFP Peer Mentoring Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Health Policy Research Scholars Program.
Dr. Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña, a distinguished recipient of this Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program's prestigious award, has made exceptional contributions to cancer prevention research. Her expertise in real-world and clinical trial data analysis, chemoprevention, and cancer recurrence measurements has led to her work being presented at renowned events. Esteemed institutions have recognized Dr. Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña's work, reflecting the quality and impact of her research. With a commitment to collaboration, she actively engages with national and international partners, participating in working groups focused on addressing cancer recurrence and systemic racism. Dr. Ramirez-Peña's notable accolades include the NCI Director's Emerging Leaders Award and the NCI Director's Champion Award, further underscoring her contributions to the field. As a mentor in the CPFP Peer Mentoring Program, she plays a pivotal role in empowering aspiring researchers and cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment in STEM. Her dedication to fostering equity and promoting underrepresented groups' involvement in research is evident.
The Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program's 2023 Merit Award winners, Drs. Kate Elfer, Alexandra Harris, Jennifer McGee-Avila, and Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña, represent the program's commitment to recognizing excellence in cancer prevention research. Their diverse expertise, significant contributions, and dedication to mentorship underscore the program's mission of advancing the field and reducing the burden of cancer. These accomplished researchers serve as inspirations for the future generation of cancer prevention scientists.
Dr. Kate Elfer Uses a Training Rotation at NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health to Learn about Sex and Gender in Research
October 4, 2022
In June 2022, Dr. Kate Elfer, fourth-year fellow with CPFP and third-year fellow with Interagency Oncology Task Force (a program between FDA and NCI), started working with NIH’s Office of Research on…
In June 2022, Dr. Kate Elfer, fourth-year fellow with CPFP and third-year fellow with Interagency Oncology Task Force (a program between FDA and NCI), started working with NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) through a part-time training rotation. A training rotation is a temporary position, part-time or full-time, where the fellow joins another laboratory, office, or agency to gain additional skills and knowledge not available through their primary appointment. Dr. Elfer works under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Temkin (associate director for clinical research) and Dr. Elizabeth Barr (social and behavioral scientist administrator).
In their fourth year with CPFP, Dr. Elfer began considering how to best utilize their remaining time in the fellowship. Their work at the Food and Drug Administration involves researching methods of measuring performance between humans and artificial intelligence algorithms in digital pathology. “I realized that many of my research teams were very one-dimensional in composition and thinking—we’re engineers, mathematicians, and algorithm developers. Frequently, I’d attend a presentation for a diagnostic algorithm for breast, cervical, or other women’s diseases, and the development research team would be men. I knew there were other factors in the data and analysis to consider but was unsure how to identify and use them,” Dr. Elfer says. Through their training rotation with ORWH, they have received training in using sex as a biological variable and have initiated a research project to integrate sex and gender research within their current work. They also are integrated into ORWH’s Clinical Research Section by assisting with developing future research questions and participating in the office’s journal club.
In addition, Dr. Elfer has pursued experiences in the career development and education work of ORWH. These experiences included participation in NIH-wide working groups, such as the Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers, in which they would “learn by listening.” Through these meetings, they have learned about conducting portfolio analyses and constructing funding proposals. Dr. Elfer plans to use these skills to plan their future research program as they transition to an independent research position.
The CPFP is always looking for additional opportunities to connect our fellows with new professional experiences. If you are interested in offering a training rotation to a Cancer Prevention Fellow, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Date: July 19th, 2022
Time: 9:00-10.30AM (EDT)
“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.
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
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.
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.