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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Summer Interns Recognized at 2014 Poster Event

In the summer of 2014, DCEG welcomed 23 students through the Summer Interns program. These high school through doctoral-level interns, selected from a pool of nearly 200 applicants, gained hands-on experience conducting epidemiologic or genetic research under the mentorship of a Division researcher.

The program culminated in the annual DCEG Summer Interns Recognition and Poster Event, which celebrates the accomplishments of the interns during their stay (generally 8 to 10 weeks). This year’s event, organized by Melanie Palazzo, fellowship program analyst in DCEG’s Office of Education (OE), featured the work of 17 students (see below for a full list of presenters and their topics). Many interns also presented their work at the NIH Summer Poster Day.

Summer interns and their mentors.

Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of OE, opened the recognition event, thanking the summer students and their mentors for their impressive work over such a short time, and encouraging them to pursue careers studying human populations. The event included presentations by Christian Abnet, Ph.D., Acting Chief of the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB), and by two DCEG fellows—Candace Middlebrooks, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics, and Jose Ramon (“Ray”) Troche, M.P.H., a predoctoral fellow in NEB.

Dr. Abnet shared with interns a description of the career path that led him to pursue research in DCEG. He described his passion for understanding the etiology of esophageal and gastric cancer, especially among populations in limited-resource settings who are at highest risk for these diseases.

Dr. Middlebrooks described her transition from the purely laboratory-based natural sciences to the application of advanced genetic analysis for epidemiological studies.

Mr. Troche shared the path that led him to the field of epidemiology and his passion for teaching, and he offered interns practical advice to keep in mind as they explore different career paths.

Choonsik Lee and a summer intern

Choonsik Lee talks with Min-Joon Choi during the poster session.

Throughout the summer, Dr. Lavigne and Kristin Kiser, M.H.A., M.S., OE fellowship coordinator, hosted orientations for new arrivals. Christopher Kim, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, and others, organized and hosted a summer journal club, which provided a forum for discussing various scientific topics, such as new discoveries, and the public’s reaction to media reports of scientific advances. In addition, the NIH Office of Training and Education offered a wide variety of lectures given by NIH scientists and workshops, including one on writing applications for graduate or medical school.

The official application process for the 2015 DCEG summer program will begin in mid-November. Students interested in applying are encouraged to learn more about DCEG research. Once the online application opens, students should first complete a short summary application, and then visit the NIH Summer Program site to complete the full online application.

Posters and Projects by 2014 DCEG Summer Interns

Kimberly Barker, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Cancer incidence in the United States: Past, present, and future

Mentors: William Anderson, M.D., M.P.H., and Philip Rosenberg, Ph.D., both of the Biostatistics Branch (BB)

I got to collaborate directly with two senior researchers who both taught me technical skills and gave career advice, which isn’t always the case with student internships. I’m definitely looking to go into a career in epidemiology after this experience.

—Kimberly Barker

Natalie Burke, College of William and Mary
Reproducibility of a fecal occult blood test device for gut microbiota analyses: Recruitment and interim results  
: James Goedert, M.D., Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB)

Jessica Caridi, Rutgers University
Donor cell leukemia
: Blanche Alter, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB), and Jennifer Loud, R.N., C.R.N.P., D.N.P., Deputy Chief of CGB

Min-Joon Choi, College of William and Mary
Organ dose calculations for patients undergoing automatic exposure control computed tomography examination using computational human phantoms

Mentor: Choonsik Lee, Ph.D., Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB)

Kevin Firl, Georgetown University
Family history of cancer and the risk of colorectal neoplasia
Mentor: Sonja Berndt, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (OEEB)

Eric Grimm, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus
Dose-response relationship of 131-I and thyroid nodules in a Ukrainian cohort following the Chernobyl accident
Mentors: Alina Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and Alice Sigurdson, Ph.D. (both of REB)

I learned an enormous amount about the research process by applying theoretical knowledge to real-world data. My mentors were wonderfully supportive by offering advice and guidance, but also allowing me to explore the data and pursue my own hypotheses.

—Eric Grimm

Brian Ho, Rice University
RAD51B: Differentially expressed transcripts in breast cancer
Mentor: Stephen Chanock, M.D., DCEG Director

Callie Kambanis, University of Maryland, College Park
Variation in coffee composition by bean type and brewing method
: Neal Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Erikka Loftfield, M.P.H., Nutritional Epidemiology Branch

Alpana Kaushiva, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Utilizing the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) resources to explore bladder cancer GWAS regions
Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG)

Jacqueline King, Georgetown University
Evaluation of the measurement of trace metals in serum and whole blood
Mentor: Sonja Berndt, Pharm.D., Ph.D. (OEEB)

Caroline Kingwell, Montgomery College  
Analysis of whole-exome sequence data from 12 testicular tumors with matching germline samples
: Anand Pathak, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. (CGB)

Justine Lottermoser, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Search for TERT promoter mutations in pancreatic cancer cell lines
: Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., (LTG)

Michelle Okwali, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Biliary Tract Cancer Pooling Project (BiTCaPP)
: Jill Koshiol, Ph.D. (IIB)

Lucia Petito, University of California, Berkeley
Performance of lung cancer incidence and lung cancer mortality risk prediction models in US smokers
: Hormuzd Katki, Ph.D. (BB)

Justin Shaffer, The College of New Jersey
Smaller than ever: Using Ampliseq Exome on low input samples
: Joseph Boland, M.S., Cancer Genomics Research Laboratory

Michael Untereiner, Sidwell Friends School, Washington, D.C.
Comprehensive review of HPV integration sites in cervical carcinoma and head and neck cancers
Mentors: Clara Bodelon, Ph.D., M.S., and Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., both of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch

Miriam van Dyke, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Survey of radioisotope procedures and radiation safety practices from 1945 to 2009 in U.S. radiologic technologists
Mentors: Amy Berrington de González, D.Phil., and Cari Meinhold Kitahara, Ph.D. (both of REB)