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Current Fellows in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch

Meet the current fellows in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch and learn about research training opportunities.

Peter Aka, MS.C., M.P.H., Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Peter Aka joined the Infectious and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2010. He earned a Ph.D. in cell genetics from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2005. His dissertation work focused on polymorphisms in DNA repair genes, DNA repair phenotype, and genotoxicity in radiation workers in Belgium. Dr. Aka received an M.P.H. from the School of Public Health, Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, an M.Pharm. (pharmaceutical medicine) in 1990, and an M.Sc. (molecular biology and biotechnology) from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels in 1997. Dr. Aka is a pharmacist, human geneticist and molecular biologist with training in epidemiology and biostatistics. Since 2006, he has been a senior scientific officer with the Genetics Group at the United Kingdom Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia, West Africa, where he was conducting studies to elucidate host genetic polymorphisms in DNA repair and cell-cycle control genes in hepatocellular carcinoma in a population exposed to hepatitis B and aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are toxic and are among the most carcinogenic substances known. As a postdoctoral fellow in IIB, Dr. Aka will conduct research on immunogenetics of malaria in Burkitt lymphoma under the mentorship of Sam Mbulaiteye, M.D., Senior Investigator, IIB, and on host gene polymorphisms influencing control of hepatitis virus infections and liver cancer risk under Thomas R. O'Brien, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Investigator, IIB.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Maria Constanza Camargo, Ph.D., M.S., M.H.A. - Research Fellow

Dr. Maria Constanza Camargo joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2010. Dr. Camargo has an M.S. from the School of Public Health in Mexico, and an M.H.A degree from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her dissertation work, conducted at IIB, focused on the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection in gastric carcinogenesis. She was previously a member of the research group led by Dr. Pelayo Correa, first at Louisiana State University and then at Vanderbilt University, studying Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric cancer epidemiology. During her postdoctoral training, Dr. Camargo has continued to study gastric cancer with her mentor, Charles Rabkin, M.D., Senior Investigator, IIB. She is leading the data analyses of NCI’s International EBV-Gastric Cancer Consortium. Dr. Camargo collaborated with researchers from the DCEG’s Biostatistics Branch and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in analyzing U.S. gastric cancer registry data. In another area, she collaborated with investigators from the DCEG’s Nutritional Epidemiology Branch in evaluating subsite-specific associations of noncardia gastric cancer with excess body weight. Dr. Camargo is also examining variations in H. pylori strains and antibody response among Latin American populations with high and low risk of gastric cancer. Finally, Dr. Camargo is studying possible hormonal explanations for sex differences in gastric cancer incidence, and the role of chronic inflammation as a mediator of H. pylori’s carcinogenicity.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Anna Coghill, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Anna Coghill joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a Cancer Research Training Award postdoctoral fellow in November 2012. She received a B.S. in cell and molecular biology from Duke University (2005) and has an M.P.H. from the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health (2008). She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Washington (2012), where she examined the role of HIV-related immune suppression in cancer survival for both AIDS-defining and non-AIDS-defining malignancies at the Uganda Cancer Institute under the mentorship of Drs. Polly Newcomb and Corey Casper. Prior to joining the IIB, Dr. Coghill was part of a research team that piloted a randomized trial of Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation among HIV and human herpes virus 8 (HHV8) co-infected adults in Uganda to investigate potential correlation between HIV-related immune suppression, inflammatory cytokines, and variation in HHV8 levels. During her postdoctoral training, Dr. Coghill is exploring the immune response to Epstein-Barr virus as a marker of cancer risk with her mentor, Allan Hildesheim, Ph.D., Chief of IIB. She is also working  with Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Investigator, IIB, to continue to study the role of HIV and immune suppression in cancer patient outcomes using data from the U.S. HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study and the Transplant Cancer Match Study.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Krystle Lang Kuhs, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Krystle Lang Kuhs joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2012. Dr. Kuhs earned her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2011. Working with Dr. David B. Weiner, her doctoral research focused on the design and development of novel hepatitis C virus DNA vaccines able to induce potent T cell based immunity within the liver. In May 2012, Dr. Kuhs earned an M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics. Dr. Kuhs’ research interests include the natural history of cancer causing viruses and prevention of cancer through prophylactic vaccination against oncogenic viruses. Dr. Kuhs is working with Aimée R. Kreimer, Ph.D., Investigator, IIB, to investigate the epidemiology of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at multiple anatomic sites and the potential for the HPV vaccine to impact these infections, work that is nested within the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Leticia Nogueira, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Leticia Nogueira joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2011. Dr. Nogueira earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Texas at Austin. Working with Dr. Stephen Hursting, she focused on the link between obesity and breast cancer. She also holds a Master of Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health with a focus on quantitative methods. Dr. Nogueira's research interests are focused on the determinants of cancer clusters in Latin America countries and their relevance to health outcome disparities in the U.S. population. She is working with Jill Koshiol, Ph.D., Earl Stadtman Investigator, IIB, to combine molecular biology and epidemiology methods to investigate differences in gastrointestinal cancers incidence and survival.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Hilary Robbins, M.S.P.H. - Postbaccalaureate Fellow

 Ms. Hilary Robbins joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a predoctoral fellow in October 2012. She received a B.S. in chemistry with a minor in biology from Duke University in 2010, and is near completion of an M.S.P.H. in global disease epidemiology and control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For her master’s thesis, as an Epidemology Scholar at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Ms. Robbins used data from the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby Project to investigate neighborhood- and individual-level predictors of intimate partner violence during pregnancy. Under the primary mentorship of Mahboobeh Safaeian, Ph.D., Investigator, IIB, Ms. Robbins is now conducting methodologic research using data from the Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial. Specifically, she is evaluating the HPV L1-GST multiplex Luminex assay in the context of natural infection and vaccination, as well as assessing its comparability to other assays for HPV. Additionally, with Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Investigator, IIB, Ms. Robbins is analyzing data from the HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study to characterize the excess burden of cancer in HIV-infected people and assess the contribution of aging to the development of cancer in HIV patients.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Meredith Shiels, Ph.D. - Research Fellow

Dr. Shiels joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a Cancer Research Training Award postdoctoral fellow in June 2009. She earned a B.S. in biobehavioral health from the Pennsylvania State University (2004) and both an M.H.S. (2006) and a Ph.D. (2009) in cancer epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For her dissertation, she examined the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy on AIDS-defining cancers relative to other AIDS-defining events, estimated smoking-associated cancer incidence and survival among HIV+ and HIV- injection drug users and carried out a meta-analysis of non-AIDS-defining cancers among those with HIV. During her postdoctoral training, Dr. Shiels continues to study cancer among those with HIV/AIDS with her mentor, Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Investigator, IIB, using data from the U.S. HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study. She also is working with Dr. Engels and Anil Chaturvedi, Ph.D., Investigator, IIB, to study inflammation and lung cancer. Dr. Shiels was the recipient of a Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowship for Women Scientists in Cancer Research in 2009.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Elizabeth Yanik, Sc.M., Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Yanik joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2013. Dr. Yanik earned a B.S. in microbiology with a minor in statistics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2007. She earned a Sc.M. in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University in 2009, and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2013. For her doctoral work, she examined patterns of cancer incidence following antiretroviral treatment initiation in the Centers for AIDS Research Network of Integrated Clinical Systems, a collaboration of 8 clinical HIV cohorts. Her work describes the changes in cancer incidence across time after antiretroviral initiation and estimating the effects of immunologic and virologic antiretroviral response on cancer incidence. Dr. Yanik is working with Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Investigator, IIB, to investigate determinants and predictors of cancer risk following solid organ transplant, primarily using the Transplant-Cancer Match Study. She is continuing her work examining cancer risk and cancer outcomes in HIV populations.

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Learn about research training opportunities in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch.