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Staff Recognized at DCEG Town Hall Meeting

In February, DCEG held a Town Hall Meeting to recognize the accomplishments of Division members during the past year. Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., Director of DCEG, welcomed staff and gave an update on Division activities. In addition, he paid special tribute to those who have made a substantial impact with their scientific contributions and service to the Division and Institute in 2013.

Fellowship Achievement Awards honored fellows who excelled during the past year and included stipend increases at the next appointment renewal. Recipients were Paige Maas, Hilary Robbins, M.S.P.H., Sarah Nyante, Ph.D., Sara Karami, Ph.D., Arash Etemadi, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., and Mitchell Machiela, Sc.D.

Awards were also given for DCEG Outstanding Research Papers of 2013 in recognition of exceptional publications from fellows and staff scientists or clinicians. The Division's Senior Advisory Group judged the competition based on the papers' impact, innovation, and clarity of thought and language. Five fellows received awards:

Peter Aka, Ph.D.
“Endemic Burkitt lymphoma is associated with strength and diversity of Plasmodium falciparum malaria stage-specific antigen antibody response,” Blood

Bari Ballew, Ph.D.
“A recessive founder mutation in Regulator of Telomere Elongation Helicase 1, RTEL1, underlies severe immunodeficiency and features of Hoyeraal Hreidarsson Syndrome,” PLoS Genetics

Indu Kohaar, Ph.D. (former DCEG fellow)
“Genetic variant as a selection marker for anti-prostate stem cell antigen immunotherapy of bladder cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Stephanie Kovalchik, Ph.D. (former DCEG fellow)
“Targeting of low-dose CT screening according to the risk of lung-cancer death,” New England Journal of Medicine

Meredith Shiels, Ph.D.
“Circulating inflammation markers and prospective risk of lung cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute

The recipient in the staff scientist or clinician category was:

Hannah P. Yang, Ph.D.
“Ovarian cancer incidence trends in relation to changing patterns of menopausal hormone therapy use in the United States,” Journal of Clinical Oncology

Each year, the Division recognizes staff members who have gone above and beyond the regular call of duty and provided a tremendous service to their Office, Branch, or the Division as a whole. DCEG Special Appreciation Awards were given to Casey Dagnall, for her critical work involving multiple process implementations, improvements, and cost savings initiatives for the Cancer Genomics Research Laboratory (CGR); Joseph Boland, M.S., for his outstanding leadership as the Director of CGR’s Research and Development group; Charlotte Mercanti, for her instrumental role in coordinating DCEG’s move from Executive Plaza to the Shady Grove building; and Mindy Kaufman, for her tireless work providing support to the Division Director for the past 12 years.

Michael Cook, Ph.D., and Laura Beane Freeman, Ph.D., received DCEG Outstanding Mentor Awards in recognition of their exceptional commitment to the growth and productivity of junior scientists. In the nomination by fellows, Dr. Cook was praised for “personalizing his mentoring for different projects and adeptly wearing and switching between the hats of teacher, coach, and sponsor.” Dr. Beane Freeman was recognized for her “characteristic unselfishness and collegiality, a reason why all those who have benefitted from her mentorship consider her a valuable resource.”

A DCEG Exemplary Service Award was given to Mark H. Greene, M.D., in honor of his exemplary service in the creation and growth of an outstanding intramural program in clinical cancer genetics in DCEG and for his service to DCEG, NCI, and NIH over the past 15 years. Dr. Greene has been a key member of multiple working groups within the Division, NCI, and NIH and has served on 26 highly influential intramural and extramural committees. Nearly all of Dr. Greene’s acts of service have been generously given during his term as Chief of the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) and also while conducting his own highly successful research program, with more than 200 publications to his credit. In addition, Dr. Greene has mentored 23 individuals who have all gone on to extraordinary careers, and worked tirelessly to help trainees and recruit the best scientific staff to the CGB and to the Division.

Winners of the 2014 DCEG Fellows Award for Research Excellence, which had been announced earlier in the year, also received recognition at the Town Meeting. The event was coordinated by Alyssa Voss, M.P.H., Office of Communications and Special Initiatives.