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2012 Intramural Scientific Retreat Highlights

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March 2012 - Linkage Newsletter

In January, DCEG scientists participated in the annual NCI Intramural Scientific Investigators Retreat, where Shelia Hoar Zahm, Sc.D., DCEG Deputy Director, was presented with the 2012 NCI Women Scientist Advisors Mentoring and Leadership Award.

Two DCEG investigators were invited to give short presentations during the retreat's plenary sessions. Amy Berrington de González, D.Phil., of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch, discussed "The burden of cancer from medical radiation exposures: Conventional and emerging technologies." She described the dramatic increase worldwide over the past several decades of exposure to diagnostic radiation and presented data on how increased exposure to ionizing radiation will affect future cancer rates. Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., of the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG), spoke on "Exploring translational avenues in the post-GWAS era." She noted that in the brief five-year history of cancer genome-wide association studies (GWAS), 216 signals for 17 cancer types have been discovered, and 11 of those signals involved bladder cancer. Dr. Prokunina-Olsson described the steps she has taken to localize the genetic variants and discover their functional mechanisms along with their potential use for clinical and public health applications.

Harold E. Varmus, M.D., NCI Director, presented the 2012 NCI Director's Innovation Awards, which are designed to support the development of novel approaches and technologies for accelerating cancer research. Five tenure-track investigators from DCEG received Principal Investigator Awards: Sonja I. Berndt, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (OEEB), for her proposal "Mitochondrial DNA copy number and prostate cancer risk"; Sam M. Mbulaiteye, M.D., Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB), for "Multiple Plasmodium falciparum malaria genotype infections: A link to African Burkitt lymphoma"; Dr. Prokunina-Olsson for "Functional analysis of a novel human protein and its translational application for treatment of hepatitis C virus infection"; Joshua Sampson, Ph.D., Biostatistics Branch, for "Understanding the I179T amino acid change in prostate-specific antigen"; and Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch (HREB), for "Development and evaluation of a human papillomavirus methylation assay to study risk of cervical precancer."

In addition, eight DCEG fellows received Career Development Awards: Cindy M. Chang, Ph.D. (IIB), for "Bacterial infection and the risk of cancer in a population-based cohort"; Yi-Ping Fu, Ph.D. (LTG), for a proposal titled "Elucidating the role of SNPs from bladder cancer GWAS through correlation with tumor microarray-based protein expression"; Wei Hu, Ph.D., and Christopher Kim, M.P.H., both of OEEB, for "Urinary F(2)-isoprostane oxidative stress markers and indoor air pollution as risk factors for lung cancer among non-smoking women in China"; Paula Hyland, Ph.D., M.P.H., Genetic Epidemiology Branch, for "Global chromatin accessibility patterns in melanoma-prone individuals with and without CDKN2A mutations"; Indu Kohaar, Ph.D. (LTG), for "Functional genomic studies of a novel splicing form of the CCNE1 gene in relation to bladder cancer"; Wei Tang, Ph.D. (LTG), for "The integrative annotation and functional characterization of long non-coding RNAs in bladder cancer"; and Britton Trabert, Ph.D. (HREB), for "Serological markers of pelvic inflammatory disease and ovarian cancer risk."