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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Current Fellows in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch

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

Arash Etemadi, M.D., Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Arash Etemadi

Arash Etemadi, M.D., Ph.D., joined DCEG as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2010. He has an M.D. (1998), an M.P.H. (2003), and a Ph.D. in epidemiology (2007) from Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), Iran. As a result of Dr. Etemadi's interest in genetic epidemiology, he worked on familial aggregation of myopia and segregation analysis of refractive errors for his Ph.D. dissertation with Dr. Akbar Fotouhi from TUMS and Dr. Joan E. Bailey-Wilson from the Inherited Disease Research Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Etemadi did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, working on polymorphisms in genes responsible for the metabolism of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and DNA repair in relation to esophageal cancer. In 2009, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Tehran University of Medical Sciences, to work in the Digestive Disease Research Center. The main focus of his research is the molecular and genetic epidemiology of upper gastrointestinal cancers. He is also interested in other noncommunicable diseases, in particular obesity, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Etemadi is working on esophageal cancer studies, especially in relation to PAH exposure and nutrition with his mentors Sanford M. Dawsey, M.D., senior investigator, MEB, and Christian Abnet Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of MEB.

Scientific Publications - Arash Etemadi

Armen Ghazarian, M.P.H. – Predoctoral Fellow

Armen Ghazarian

Armen Ghazarian, M.P.H., joined DCEG as a predoctoral fellow in September 2012 as part of the collaborative doctoral training partnership in cancer epidemiology with George Washington University. Prior to joining DCEG, he worked in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) as an environmental epidemiology CRTA fellow. Mr. Ghazarian attended the University of Maryland, College Park where he received a B.S. in biological sciences in 2008 followed by an M.P.H. in epidemiology in 2011. His master’s thesis focused on socioeconomic disparities of esophageal adenocarcinoma using data from NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Mr. Ghazarian's research interests include cancer and environmental epidemiology, gene and environment interactions, endocrine disruptors, social determinants of health, and hormonally-related cancers including prostate and testicular. He is working with Katherine A. McGlynn, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, MEB, and Britton Trabert, Ph.D., M.S., investigator, MEB, on studies of male cancers.

Scientific Publications - Armen Ghazarian

Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Ph.D., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in April 2016. Dr. Gordon-Dseagu received a master’s degree in health, population and society from the London School of Economics and Political Science and earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health within University College London. Vanessa’s doctoral research focused on the impact of diabetes mellitus on cancer incidence and mortality using data from the Health Survey for England and Scottish Health Survey. Following her Ph.D., Dr. Gordon-Dseagu worked as a Research Associate within the Health Behavior Research Center at University College London on a study focused on overweight, obesity and cancer using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. Working with Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior investigator, MEB, Dr. Gordon-Dseagu’s current research seeks to better understand the effects lifestyle factors—specifically diet, overweight and obesity and conditions such as diabetes— can have on cancer risk.

Jiaqi Huang, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Jiaqi Huang, Ph.D., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2016. Dr. Huang received her M.S. in molecular biology/biomedicine in June 2009 and her Ph.D. in epidemiology in December 2015, both from the Karolinska Institute of Sweden. Her doctoral research focused on the epidemiology and etiology of pancreatic cancer and included both molecular and cancer registry-based epidemiologic studies.  Her work included variant profiling of candidate genes in pancreatic cancer based on the anchored-multiplex PCR method. She also evaluated potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer, including poor oral hygiene, hepatitis C or B virus infection, Helicobacter pylori infection, N-nitrosamine, and psychological stress.  She is working with Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, MEB, to investigate prostate cancer etiology, metabolomics profiling of cancer, and vitamin/nutrient exposures as they relate to cancer. 

Scientific Publications - Jiaqi Huang

Sarah Keadle, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Sarah Kozey Keadle, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG in June 2013 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program. She received a B.S. from Wake Forest University in health and exercise science in 2006 and an M.S. (2008) and Ph.D. (2012) in kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her studies focused broadly on measurement of physical activity and sedentary behavior and the association of these behaviors on health outcomes. Dr. Keadle’s dissertation was titled "The influence of free-living activity and inactivity on health outcomes and responsiveness to exercise training". In 2013, she completed her M.P.H. at Harvard University in quantitative methods. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Keadle works with Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., investigator, on projects examining the dose-response relationship between physical activity, sedentary behavior and cancer prevention. Dr. Keadle is also interested in understanding the impact of different measurement tools on the interpretation of these relationships.

Scientific Publications - Sarah Keadle

Scott Kelly, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly, Ph.D., joined DCEG as a predoctoral fellow in November 2013 as part of the George Washington University-NCI Partnership Training Program. Mr. Kelly received his M.S. in biostatistics and epidemiology from Georgetown University in 2009. Prior to joining DCEG, he worked as a biostatistician and data manager within the Cancer Prevention and Control program of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. He completed his Ph.D. in 2015. His dissertation research explored the role of lifestyle, hormonal and genetic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer, as well as novel analyses of incidence trends and survival rates. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), under the mentorship of Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., investigator, Dr. Kelly is currently examining somatic genetic mutational profiles that characterize prostate cancer recurrence and prostate cancer-specific mortality, assessing current and forecasted trends in incidence and mortality rates of clinically significantly prostate cancer, examining the influence of obesity across the adult life-course on prostate carcinogenesis and progression, and investigating whether reproductive factors influence risk of prostate cancer incidence and mortality in the United Kingdom.

Scientific Publications – Scott Kelly

Tracy Layne, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow


Tracy Layne, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG in August 2013 as a pre-doctoral fellow as part of the Yale University-NCI Cooperative Graduate Training Program in Cancer Epidemiology. Ms. Layne received a B.S. in biological sciences from Marymount Manhattan College and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from Boston University School of Public Health. Her dissertation work was titled Race, Vitamins D and E, and Prostate Cancer Risk, and she completed her Ph.D. in May 2016. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Ms. Layne works under the mentorship of Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, and is examining vitamin D-cancer associations, with a particular focus on the influence of vitamin D on racial/ethnic cancer disparities.

Erikka Loftfield, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Erikka Loftfield, Ph.D., joined DCEG as a predoctoral fellow through the Yale University-NCI Partnership Training Program in August 2013. She earned a B.A. in biology with a concentration in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University and an M.P.H. in chronic disease epidemiology with a concentration in global health from the Yale School of Public Health. Dr. Loftfield completed her Ph.D. at Yale University in 2015. Her dissertation research explored the associations of coffee drinking with mortality and cancer and used emerging technologies, including untargeted metabolomics and multiplex immune and inflammatory marker panels, to help elucidate potential mechanisms underlying these associations. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), under the mentorship of Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., senior investigator and Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, Dr. Loftfield is studying risk factors for liver cancer, including diabetes and liver disease. Coffee has been consistently inversely associated with liver cancer, liver disease mortality, and diabetes; consequently, Dr. Loftfield is currently researching the associations of coffee, which contains more than 1000 chemical compounds, and coffee-related metabolites with risk of liver cancer and liver disease mortality

Scientific Publications - Erikka Loftfield

Maeve Mullooly, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Mauve Mullooly

Maeve Mullooly, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG as an NCI Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2014. Dr. Mullooly received her B.Sc. in pharmacology from University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland, followed by her Ph.D. in translational medicine from St. Vincent’s University Hospital and UCD’s School of Medicine and Medical Science. During her doctoral studies, she investigated proteases as novel therapeutic targets for breast cancer with a focus on triple negative breast cancer. Her project formed part of the strategic multicenter and multidisciplinary research cluster “Molecular Therapeutics for Cancer Ireland” funded by Science Foundation Ireland. Dr. Mullooly completed her M.P.H. at UCD’s School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science in 2014. During her fellowship in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Mullooly is focusing on molecular epidemiologic studies of breast density and breast cancer, working primarily with investigator Gretchen Gierach, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Scientific Publications - Maeve Mullooly

Shakira Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Shakira Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG in August 2014 as a Cancer Prevention Fellow. Dr. Nelson received her M.P.H in 2014 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with an emphasis in epidemiology, nutrition, and cancer prevention. She received her Ph.D. in nutritional immunology from Pennsylvania State University in 2013. Her doctoral research examined the effects of selenium, utilizing both in vitro and in vivo models to demonstrate beneficial effects of selenium supplementation on macrophage phenotypes in a mouse infection model that utilized the gastrointestinal nematode parasite, Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Nelson is working with Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, to examine the role of micronutrients in cancer etiology, prevention and survival. She applies her laboratory background to examine these associations at the molecular and mechanistic level.

Scientific Publications - Shakira Nelson

Hannah Oh, Sc.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Hannah Oh, Sc.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG as a postdoctoral fellow in December 2014. Prior to joining DCEG, Dr. Oh received a B.A. in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.P.H. in global health from Emory University (2010), and an Sc.D. in epidemiology and nutrition from Harvard University (2014). Her doctoral dissertation focused on lifestyle factors (physical activity, body fatness, diet) and hormones in relation to breast cancer. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), she is working with investigator Gretchen Gierach, Ph.D., M.P.H. on projects related to mammographic density and terminal duct lobular unit (TDLU) involution in normal breast tissue to identify markers that may improve risk assessment and early detection of breast cancer. She is also working with Britton Trabert, Ph.D., M.S., investigator, MEB, on projects related to sex steroid hormone metabolites (e.g., estrogen metabolites) and studies of endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Scientific Publications - Hannah Oh

Jessica Petrick, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Jessica Petrick

Jessica L. Petrick, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2014. She obtained a B.A. in public health studies and medical anthropology, and an M.P.H. (2008) in epidemiology and health policy from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Petrick received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014. For her doctoral dissertation, Dr. Petrick examined the intake of dietary flavonoids in relation to the incidence of Barrett esophagus and esophageal and gastric cancer, and to survival among esophageal and gastric cancer cases. Her Ph.D. mentor was Dr. Marilie Gammon. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Petrick works with Katherine A. McGlynn, Ph.D., senior investigator, on liver cancer studies assessing gender-specific effects of risk factors such as coffee consumption, diabetes, obesity and steroid hormone levels, and with Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., investigator, on the effects of adiposity on esophageal adenocarcinoma risk.

Scientific Publications - Jessica Petrick

Mary Playdon, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Mary Playdon, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG in August 2014 as a predoctoral fellow through the Yale University-NCI Partnership Training Program. She completed a B.S. and an M.P.H. at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Ms. Playdon is a registered clinical dietitian, practicing in both Australia and England before coming to the U.S. She was previously Senior Clinical Research Dietitian for the Colorado State University Cancer Prevention Laboratory. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), under the mentorship of Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, and Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior investigator, Ms. Playdon’s dissertation work focused on exploring dietary metabolites as novel biomarkers of dietary intake and their role in breast cancer etiology. As a postdoctoral fellow, Ms. Playdon continues her work with Drs. Moore and Stolzenberg-Solomon on nutritional metabolomics and cancer etiology, and has expanded her portfolio in collaboration with Britton Trabert, Ph.D., M.S., investigator, to include alcohol and obesity exposures and their relationships to hormone metabolism and other female cancers, including endometrial cancer.

Scientific Publications - Mary Playdon

Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D., M.P.H., – Research Fellow

Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in August 2013 and was promoted to Research Fellow in June 2016. She received an M.P.H. in international health epidemiology from the University of Michigan in 2009, where she investigated human papillomavirus knowledge and mortality trends for cervical cancer in Mexico. She received a Ph.D. in epidemiology in 2013 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Vogtmann's doctoral dissertation work focused on cruciferous vegetable intake, GST gene polymorphisms and colorectal cancer among men in Shanghai, China, and was completed in collaboration with the Shanghai Cancer Institute and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Vogtmann works with Christian Abnet Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of MEB, and Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., senior investigator. Specifically, her research focuses on: 1) evaluating methods related to microbiome studies for epidemiologic applications; 2) assessing associations between the human microbiome and cancer risk factors, such as tobacco smoking; and 3) determining the relationship between the human microbiome and cancer etiology, with a particular focus on gastrointestinal cancer risk.

Scientific Publications - Emily Vogtmann

Cindy Zhou, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Cindy Zhou, Ph.D., joined DCEG as a doctoral fellow in October 2012 to work on her dissertation with Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., investigator, Metabolomic Epidemiology Branch.  Her dissertation research focused on androgenic pathways in relation to aggressive and lethal prostate cancer using androgenic alopecia as a proxy in large prospective cohorts and a national survey. She then received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from George Washington University School of Public Health in 2014 and became a postdoctoral fellow in November 2014. Dr. Zhou obtained her Bachelor of Medicine (B.Med.) in preventive medicine from Sichuan University, China in 2010. For her B.Med. research, Dr. Zhou examined socioeconomic and behavioral factors in breast cancer screening among women in southwest China.  In 2011, she performed prostate cancer research with Ann W. Hsing, Ph.D., formerly a senior investigator in DCEG.  In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), Dr. Zhou works with Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., investigator, on the epidemiology of prostate cancer, with a special focus on the aggressive/lethal subtype and men with African ancestry.  She is also working on biomarkers for prostate cancer early detection and progression.

Scientific Publications - Cindy Zhou