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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, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Peter Aka

Peter Aka, Ph.D., joined the Infectious and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2010. Dr. Aka is a pharmacist, human geneticist and molecular biologist with training in epidemiology and biostatistics. 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.  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 conducted 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  conducts 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. - Research Fellow

Maria Constanza Camargo, Ph.D., 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 DCEG’s Biostatistics Branch and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in analyzing U.S. gastric cancer registry data. In another area, she collaborated with investigators from 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. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Anna Coghill, Ph.D., 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 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. As part of 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)

Shivani Jain, M.Sc., M.Phil. - Predoctoral Fellow

Shivani Jain, M.Sc., M.Phil., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a predoctoral fellow in October 2013. Ms. Jain earned a master’s degree in global health and development from the University College London in 2012 and a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Cambridge in 2013. Ms. Jain is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Cambridge through the NIH/Oxford/Cambridge Scholars Program, which offers graduate students the opportunity to collaborate on research with mentors at NIH and either Oxford or Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, earning a doctoral degree along the way. In IIB, she will be working under the mentorship of Sam Mbulaiteye, M.D., senior investigator, to investigate the association between Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria and Burkitt lymphoma. Ms. Jain is spending her first year at Cambridge developing her Ph.D. proposal, which will focus on evaluating the role of cytoadherence of Pf-infected erythrocytes in Burkitt lymphoma using a genomics approach.

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

Krystle Lang Kuhs, Ph.D., M.P.H., 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)

Meredith Shiels, Ph.D. - Research Fellow

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Meredith Shiels, Ph.D., 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. As part of 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, Ph.D. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Elizabeth Yanik, Ph.D., 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 an 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.