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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Current Fellows in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch

Meet the current fellows in the Nutritional 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 the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) 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 NEB, 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, NEB, and Christian Abnet Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of NEB.

Scientific Publications - Arash Etemadi

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

Sarah Kozey Keadle, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) 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 NEB, Dr. Keadle works with Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., investigator, NEB, 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

Tracy Layne, M.P.H. - Predoctoral Fellow


Tracy Layne, M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) in August 2013 as a predoctoral fellow within the Yale University-NCI Cooperative Graduate Training Program in Cancer Epidemiology. Ms. Layne received her B.S. in biological sciences from Marymount Manhattan College in 2002 and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from Boston University School of Public Health in 2007. She was previously a Cancer Research Training Award fellow in the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences Applied Research Program (2007-2008) and a research project coordinator at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (2008-2011), where she worked on the use of survivorship care plans and racial disparities in endometrial cancer. Under the primary mentorship of  Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, NEB, Ms. Layne is examining vitamin D-cancer associations, with a particular focus on the influence of vitamin D on racial/ethnic cancer disparities.

Erikka Loftfield, M.P.H. - Predoctoral Fellow

Erikka Loftfield, M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) 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 in 2005 from Cornell University and an M.P.H. in chronic disease epidemiology with a concentration in global health in 2012 from the Yale School of Public Health. While at Yale, Ms. Loftfield’s research in NEB focused on the effects of exercise on markers of inflammation in breast cancer survivors. Under the mentorship of Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., Deputy Chief of NEB, and Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, NEB, Ms. Loftfield is exploring the associations of coffee consumption with various health outcomes, including oral health, mortality and melanoma, as well as markers of inflammation and immunity.

Scientific Publications - Erikka Loftfield

Eugenia Miranti, B.A. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Eugenia Miranti

Eugenia Miranti, B.A., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) in July 2015 as an NIH Medical Research Scholars Program fellow. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University in 2012 in molecular biology and genetics, with a minor in chemistry. She is currently an M.D./M.P.H. candidate at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, and she completed her third year of clinical training before starting her NIH fellowship. Ms. Miranti is working under the mentorship of Gwen Murphy, Ph.D., M.P.H., staff scientist, NEB. Her research focuses on the etiology of esophageal and gastric cancer, specifically associations between serum B-vitamin levels and cancer risk.


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

Shakira Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) 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. For her transition to population-based studies, Shakira is working with Demetrius Albanes, M.D., NEB senior investigator, to examine the role of micronutrients in cancer etiology, prevention and survival. She will apply her laboratory background to examine these associations at the molecular and mechanistic level.

Scientific Publications - Shakira Nelson

Mary Playdon, M.P.H. - Predoctoral Fellow

Mary Playdon, M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) in August 2014 as a predoctoral fellow through the Yale University-NCI Partnership Training Program. Mary 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 in England before coming to the U.S. She was previously Senior Clinical Research Dietitian for the Colorado State University Cancer Prevention Laboratory, and a Professional Research Associate for the University of Colorado Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes. Under the mentorship of Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., M.P.H., NEB investigator, and Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., NEB senior investigator, Ms. Playdon is exploring dietary metabolites as novel biomarkers of dietary intake and their role in cancer etiology.

Scientific Publications - Mary Playdon

Jose Ramon (“Ray”) Troche, M.P.H. - Predoctoral Fellow

Jose Ramon (“Ray”) Troche, M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) in August 2013 as a predoctoral fellow within the Yale-NCI Cooperative Graduate Training Program in cancer epidemiology. He received both a B.A. in liberal studies in 2007 and an M.P.H. in biometry from San Diego State University in 2011. He is conducting research and analyses under the primary mentorship of Christian Abnet Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of NEB, using data from NHANES and the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Mr. Troche plans to work on projects related to alcohol use, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer.

Scientific Publications - Jose Ramon Troche

Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D., M.P.H., - Postdoctoral Fellow

Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D.,M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in August 2013. 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. Her 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 NEB, Dr. Vogtmann works with Christian Abnet Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of NEB, to assess risk factors for upper gastrointestinal cancer, including the effect of the microbiome on cancer risk.

Scientific Publications - Emily Vogtmann

Qian Xiao, Ph.D., M.P.H. - Postdoctoral Fellow

Qian Xiao

Qian Xiao, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in 2012. Dr. Xiao received her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of California at San Diego and M.P.H. in epidemiology from the University of Michigan. In NEB, she works with her mentor Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., investigator, NEB, to focus on integrating factors at the macroenvironmental, individual and biological levels to understand disease risk. She studies the role of individual factors, mainly sleep, physical activity, and diet, in relation to obesity, cancer and other chronic conditions. She also conducts research on how macroenvironmental exposures, such as neighborhood deprivation and physical activity and food environment, contribute to health disparities. Moreover, she seeks to elucidate the biological mechanisms underlying the health effects of behavioral and contextual factors, particularly focusing on the human metabolome.

Scientific Publications - Qian Xiao

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Learn about research training opportunities in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch.