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Current Fellows in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch

Meet the current fellows in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch and learn about research training opportunities.

Clarissa Alexander, M.S. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

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Clarissa Alexander, M.S., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a master's-level postbaccalaureate fellow in January 2014. Ms. Alexander obtained her B.A. in biological science from Florida Atlantic University in 2010. In 2012, she conducted research as a graduate student intern in the Statistical Genetics Section (SGS) of the Inherited Disease Research Branch (IDRB), National Human Genome Research Institute, under the direction of Dr. Joan Bailey-Wilson, Co-Chief and senior investigator, IDRB and head, SGS, and Mr. Brian Perry, senior C-programmer, IDRB. In 2013, she received her M.S. degree, with honors, in biomedical informatics with a concentration on medical informatics from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) Osteopathic College of Medicine. Ms. Alexander conducted research projects involving food pathogen studies, the role of phenotypes in biological pathways, and genomics. In GEB, Ms. Alexander is working with Neil Caporaso, M.D., Chief and senior investigator, and Mary Lou McMaster, M.D., senior clinical specialist, on the clinical and genetic characterization of familial Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a lymphoproliferative malignancy. She is also working with Lisa Mirabello, Ph.D., M.S., investigator, on follow-up of an osteosarcoma GWAS and Xiaohong Rose Yang, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, to apply Golden Helix software analysis to familial melanoma.

Fangyi Gu, M.Med., Sc.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Fangyi Gu

Fangyi Gu, M.Med., Sc.D., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in May, 2010. Dr. Gu completed her Sc.D. in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2010 and earned a Master of Medicine from Peking Union Medical College in 2004 and a Bachelor of Medicine from Peking Medical University in 2001. She has collaborated on several epidemiological projects, including the recent GWAS of smoking behaviors led by DCEG and Harvard investigators, as well as an international multicenter association study of insulin like growth factor pathway genes with circulating IGF1/BP3 hormone levels. While at DCEG, Dr. Gu is working with Neil E. Caporaso, M.D., Chief of GEB, and colleagues on smoking exposure and genetic susceptibility in relation to lung cancer risk.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Paula Hyland, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Research Fellow

Paula Hyland

Paula Hyland, Ph.D., M.P.H. joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) in January, 2010 as the Northern Irish Cancer Prevention Fellow. Dr. Hyland received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Ulster, Coleraine, (UUC), in Northern Ireland (NI), studying the effects of dNTP pool imbalances on DNA replication and repair fidelity. She also has a B.Sc. in biomedical sciences from UUC. In 2009, she obtained her M.P.H. from Queen’s University Belfast, NI, which focused on the molecular epidemiology of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) and the alteration of chromatin modifiers and histone marks by HPV-16 E6/7 oncogenes. In November 2012, Dr. Hyland became a research fellow in GEB.

Dr. Hyland has a strong interest in investigating the association of genetic variation as well as epigenetic changes and the risk of melanoma and upper gastrointestinal (UGI) tract cancers. She is currently working with Xiaohong Rose Yang, Ph.D., M.P.H., GEB investigator, to examine genetic and epigenetic changes and risk of familial melanoma. Dr. Hyland received two DCEG Intramural Research awards and an NCI Director’s Innovation award for her projects examining constitutional epigenetic changes and mitochondrial DNA copy number and their relationships with melanoma risk in melanoma-prone families. Dr. Hyland is also working with Philip R. Taylor, M.D., Sc.D., senior investigator, GEB, to assess the relationship of genetic variation in gene pathways and noncoding RNAs with risk of esophageal and gastric cancers using SNP data from the UGI cancer GWAS, as well as gene expression and biomarker detection in the Barrett’s Esophagus Early Detection Study (BEEDS).

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Sharon Li, B.S. – Predoctoral Fellow

Sharon Li joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a Medical Research Scholars Program Fellow in July 2013. She received her B.S. from Penn State University in 2012 and is currently part of the Penn State-Jefferson combined accelerated B.S./M.D. program. She is set to obtain her M.D. in 2015. Her previous work has included bench research in microbiology, neuroscience and cancer immunology and clinical projects in colorectal cancer. Her interests on the influence of environment and genetics in the etiology and prevention of cancer, particularly those that are specific to certain ethnic populations, has led her to pursue research projects in DCEG for her year of fellowship. Under the mentorship of Philip R. Taylor, M.D., Sc.D., senior investigator, GEB, Ms. Li is working on genetic and environmental factors involved in esophageal and gastric cancers in high-risk Chinese populations.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Wenqing Li, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Wenqing Li

Wenqing Li, Ph.D., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a visiting postdoctoral fellow in January 2012. He received his Ph.D. in epidemiology and biostatistics from Peking University, China, in July 2010. His doctoral dissertation involved the the gene-environmental interaction in the evolution of precancerous gastric lesions, as well as the genetic factors which determine the effect of chemo-intervention trials. Prior to joining GEB, Dr. Wenqing Li worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he worked on risk factors and comorbidities of skin cancer and skin diseases based on the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), NHS II, and Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, and also the clinical resources in Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His interests focus on the influence of environmental and genetic factors in the etiology and prevention of cancer, particularly gastrointestinal cancer and skin cancer. Under the mentorship of Alisa Goldstein, Ph.D., and Philip R. Taylor, M.D., Sc.D., both senior investigator in GEB, Dr. Wenqing Li is working on genetic and environmental factors involved in the development of cancer.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Carolyn Reyes-Guzman, M.P.H. - Predoctoral Fellow

Carolyn Reyes-Guzman

Carolyn Reyes-Guzman, M.P.H., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a predoctoral CRTA fellow in November 2011. Prior to joining as a fellow, she worked with GEB as a special volunteer since December 2010. She received her B.A. in French from Santa Clara University in 1999, and her M.P.H. in epidemiology from George Washington University (GWU) in 2005. Her interest in tobacco prevention and cancer etiology led her to focus her master’s research on cancer prevention, and in May 2005, she defended her thesis on the effectiveness of the cancer prevention clinic at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in epidemiology at GWU. In GEB, Ms. Reyes-Guzman works with Neil E. Caporaso, M.D., Chief of GEB, and her dissertation work focuses on the epidemiology of light and intermittent smokers, their genetics, and lung cancer outcomes.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Hyuna Sung, Ph.D., M.A. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Hyuna Sung, Ph.D., M.A., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2013. She received her B.A. in 2002 and M.A. in biological sciences in 2004 at Seoul National University. There, she worked with Dr. Dongeun Park studying the role of the Rac guanine nucleotide exchange factor β-Pix and Dynamin in rat hippocampal neurons. She then obtained a B.A. in pharmacy from Kyunghee University in 2009 and received her Ph.D. in molecular epidemiology from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Seoul National University under the supervision of Dr. Daehee Kang, in 2013. Her doctoral research focused on the association between genetic variants in microRNA-related genes and breast cancer risk and a breast cancer risk prediction model incorporating established risk factors, previously identified genetic loci, and microRNA-related SNPs newly identified in the Seoul Breast Cancer Study. While completing her Ph.D. as a predoctoral intern at Vanderbilt University in 2011, she participated in analysis of breast cancer genome-wide association study project conducted by the Asian Breast Cancer Consortium. As part of her postdoctoral fellowship in GEB, Dr. Sung is working on studies to understand and integrate genetic susceptibility, somatic alterations, and tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer and upper gastrointestinal cancer under the mentorship of Philip R. Taylor, M.D., Sc.D., senior investigator, GEB, and Xiaohong Rose Yang, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, GEB.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

Guoqin Yu, Ph.D., M.S., - Postdoctoral Fellow

Guoqin Yu

Guoqin Yu, Ph.D., M.S., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) and the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a CRTA postdoctoral fellow in 2011. She received a B.S. in biology and computer science in 2001 and an M.S. in genetics from Zhejiang University/Beijing Institute of Botany in 2004. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in evolution, ecology and population biology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009, under the direction of Dr. Barbara Schaal. As part of her doctoral studies, she researched the evolution of starch synthesis pathway genes in wild and cultivated rice, and the association between variation in starch genes and starch quality in rice. In order to improve her bioinformatics techniques, Dr. Guoqin performed postdoctoral research for Drs. Arlin Stoltzfus and John Moult at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she studied the evolution of prokaryotes genomes using population genetics tools.

Dr. Guoqin is interested in the relationship between human microbiomes and cancer. She is also interested in explaining the variation within/between human populations and their relationship with cancer. She is currently working on projects about smoking, the human microbiome and smoking-related cancer with Neil E. Caporaso, M.D., Chief of GEB, Christian C. Abnet, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, and her mentors Alisa M. Goldstein, Ph.D., senior investigator, GEB, and James J. Goedert, M.D., senior investigator, IIB. She is also working with Dr. Goldstein and Allan Hildesheim, Ph.D., Chief of IIB, on a study of the genetic susceptibility of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) families in Taiwan. In 2013, Dr. Yu was awarded an NCI Director’s Intramural Innovation Award.

DCEG Publications (text and abstracts from our publications)

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Learn about research training opportunities in the Genetic Epidemiology Branch.