by Hannah Arem, M.H.S., and Patricia Luhn, Ph.D., M.P.H.
In March, DCEG held the fourth annual Fellows’ Training Symposium, titled Exploring Uncharted Territories in Cancer Research. The event was sponsored by DCEG’s Office of Education (OE) and organized by a DCEG fellows committee, including cochairs Hannah Arem, M.H.S., Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB), and Patricia Luhn, Ph.D., M.P.H., Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch (HREB), along with Maria Constanza Camargo, Ph.D., Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB), Felipe Castro, Ph.D. (IIB), Benjamin Emmanuel, M.P.H. (IIB), Ashley S. Felix, Ph.D., M.P.H. (HREB), Roberto Flores, Ph.D., M.P.H. (IIB), Asieh Golozar, M.D., M.P.H., Genetic Epidemiology Branch, and Farzana Walcott, M.D., Clinical Genetics Branch, with support from Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of OE, Kristin Kiser, M.H.A., M.S. (OE), and Pamela Lotinsky (OE). The aim of the symposium was to explore opportunities both within and outside of DCEG for developing and performing innovative research. More than 75 predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows, representing all branches and laboratories of DCEG, participated in the event.
Dr. Faith Davis, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta School of Public Health in Edmonton, Canada, began the symposium with a lecture titled “Uncharted territories: Reflections.” Dr. Davis shared examples of unexpected opportunities and health inequities research that she pursued while focusing on her work in radiation epidemiology. She also offered advice to fellows about how to identify and pursue novel research questions specific to their interests.
Muin Khoury, M.D., Ph.D., Acting Associate Director of the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) and Director of the Office of Public Health Genomics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, spoke on the topic “Public health genomics: From the science of discovery to the science of action.” He emphasized the importance of finding a balance in the translation of genomics research so that useful interventions are developed and delivered to the public. In addition, he shared his idea of knowledge integration, through which resources like the Human Genome Epidemiology Network (HuGENet) and the Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP) initiative could be used for translating and evaluating genomic applications.
Andrew Freedman, Ph.D., Chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Branch in DCCPS, presented “New opportunities in molecular cancer epidemiology.” Dr. Freedman spoke about opportunities for integrating basic and clinical science for pharmacoepidemiologic research and “getting the right medicine to the right person at the right time."
Fellows had an opportunity to interact with the invited speakers at a panel discussion, during which the speakers answered scientific questions and offered advice.
The symposium included two poster sessions that highlighted the research projects of more than 40 fellows. This year, in addition to the traditional poster session, the symposium featured an interactive poster session, in which fellows were assigned to small groups to present and/or listen to poster presentations on multidisciplinary topics. Kristin Moy, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in NEB, said, “The interactive poster session was a unique chance to present my work and to learn about other work going on in DCEG. I also enjoyed meeting and interacting with other fellows across the Division.”
Robert N. Hoover, M.D., Sc.D., Director of DCEG’s Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, closed the day by speaking about understudied areas within the Division and offered advice on how fellows can become involved and grow beyond their current focus. Dr. Hoover captured the essence of the day in his closing comments: “There are uncharted territories all around us; your charge is to use the tools available within the Division to explore them.”