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Current Fellows in the Clinical Genetics Branch

Meet the fellows in the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) and learn about their work.

  • Sherifa Akinniyi, B.S.

    Ms. Akinniyi, postbaccalaureate fellow in CGB, focuses her research on estimating the population prevalence of germline variants in genes associated with telomere biology disorders, under the mentorship of Kelvin C. de Andrade, Ph.D., and Sharon A. Savage, M.D.

  • Kelvin C. de Andrade, Ph.D., M.Sc.

    Dr. de Andrade, research fellow in CGB, studies genetic and behavioral factors that could be associated with cancer risk, progression, and phenotypic variability in Li-Fraumeni Syndrome patients. His mentor is Sharon Savage, M.D.

  • Jazmyn L. Bess, M.S.

    Ms. Bess, postbaccalaureate fellow and iCURE scholar in CGB and TDRP/Connect, studies HPV 35 variation in HPV 35-associated cervical cancer and benign infections among women of African ancestry and worldwide, under the mentorship of Lisa Mirabello, Ph.D., senior investigator. In TDRP, she is working on the Connect for Cancer Prevention Cohort Study, under the mentorship of Mia Gaudet, Ph.D., senior scientist.

  • Lauren M. Black, B.S.

    Ms. Black, postbaccalaureate Fellow in CGB, conducts various tasks in the CHARMS Study Enrollment System Migration such as data validations of forms, reports and surveys, along with entering backlogged study data. Her mentors are Sharon Savage, M.D., Renee Bremer, M.S., and Jessica Hatton, M.S.

  • Camryn Cohen, B.S.

    Ms. Cohen, postbaccalaureate fellow in CGB, studies HPV-associated biomarkers for anal cancer screening and management, under the mentorship of Megan Clarke, Ph.D., M.H.S. and Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Lesley Chapman Hannah, Ph.D.

    Dr. Chapman Hannah, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, develops machine learning and statistical strategies to identify novel pathogenic variants in pediatric cancer. Her mentors are Douglas Stewart, M.D., and Hormuzd A. Katki, Ph.D. (Biostatistics Branch).

  • Rowan Forbes Shepherd, Ph.D.

    Dr. Forbes Shepherd, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, is building on earlier studies of the psychosocial challenges facing individuals with Li-Fraumeni syndrome by expanding his studies to those with inherited bone marrow failure syndromes. His primary goal is to develop psychosocial interventions for young people with high genetic risk of cancer. His mentors are Payal Khincha , M.B.B.S., M.S.H.S., and Sharon Savage, M.D.

  • Aimee Koestler, B.S.

    Ms. Koestler, postbaccalaureate fellow in CGB, is helping with several human papillomavirus (HPV) genomics projects, specifically studying the distribution of genetic HPV 35 variants among cervical cancers around the world, particularly in women of African ancestry. Her mentors are Lisa Mirabello, Ph.D., M.S., and Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.

  • Payal Rajender Kumar, B.D.S., M.D.S., M.P.H.

    Dr. Rajender Kumar, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, is working on developing image-based AI algorithms for classification of oral precancer and cancer under the mentorship of Anil Chaturvedi, Ph.D.

  • Kathryn Kundrod, Ph.D., M.P.H.

    Dr. Kundrod, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, investigates approaches to HPV detection that have the potential to reduce cervical cancer disparities, under the mentorship of Dr. Philip Castle.

  • Rebecca Landy, Ph.D.

    Dr. Landy, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, studies the natural history of human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancers, and the appropriate use of risk estimation methods when evaluating cancer screening. Her mentors are Anil Chaturvedi, Ph.D., and Hormuzd Katki, Ph.D.

  • Kyra J. W. Mendez, Ph.D., M.P.H., B.S.N.

    Dr. Mendez, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, investigates accelerated aging and biomarkers of aging (specifically, telomere length) among people who have received a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, under the mentorship of Shahinaz Gadalla, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Chase W. Nelson, Ph.D.

    Dr. Nelson, a research fellow in CGB, is working on studies within the DCEG Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Genomics Projects, with a focus on characterizing the molecular evolution of oncogenic HPVs and their relationships to disease progression. His mentor is Lisa Mirabello, Ph.D.

  • Thomas O'Donnell, M.P.H.

    Mr. O'Donnell, postbaccalaureate fellow in CGB, is building and validating absolute risk prediction models for ovarian cancer, as well as investigating changes in biomarker levels due to different handling and processing procedures in blood specimens taken from Connect cohort volunteers. His mentor is Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.

  • Emily Pearce, Ph.D.

    Dr. Pearce, predoctoral fellow in CGB, studies telomere length measurement and how donor telomere length impacts recipient survival after hematopoietic cell transplantation. Her mentor is Sharon A. Savage, M.D. She completed her doctoral degree in October 2023.

  • Sarah A. Phillips, B.A.

    Ms. Phillips, MRSP fellow in CGB, is evaluating markers for cervical cancer in self-collected specimens as well as polygenic risk scores for ovarian cancer, under the mentorship of Dr. Nicolas Wentzensen.  

  • Camella Rising, Ph.D., M.S., R.D.N.

    Dr. Rising, research fellow in CGB, focuses her research on developing a better understanding of health behaviors, communication behaviors, and psychosocial needs of individuals and families living with cancer predisposition syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome and dyskeratosis congenita and related telomere biology disorders. Her mentors are Sharon A. Savage, M.D., Payal Khincha, M.B.B.S., M.S.H.S., and Sadie P. Hutson, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.

  • Bia Sajjad, B.A.

    Ms. Sajjad, a postbaccalaureate fellow in CGB, studies predispositions to marrow failures and their associated outcomes. She conducts research on the impact of both germline and somatic mutations on disease prognosis, working under the mentorship of Lisa McReynolds, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Akemi T. Wijayabahu, Ph.D., M.S.

    Dr. Wijayabahu, postdoctoral fellow in CGB, focuses on understanding etiological relationships and modifiable risk factors of cancers that afflict women, with a special emphasis on endometrial cancer, under the mentorship of Megan Clarke, Ph.D.