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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Tenth Annual Fellows' Training Symposium (2018)

Defining Cancer Risk: Does G x E = Me

Posted on May 16, 2018

by Manila Hada, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Fellows' Symposium Participants and Presenters

The tenth annual DCEG Fellows’ Symposium was held on March 16, 2018 on the NIH main campus. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Defining Cancer Risk: Does G (Genetics) × E (Environment) = Me”. This year’s speakers were Sharon A. Savage, M.D., senior investigator and Chief of the Clinical Genetics Branch; Dr. Logan Spector, Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Director, Division of Epidemiology/Clinical Research, University of Minnesota School of Medicine; and Dr. Steven Rappaport, Professor, Environmental Health Sciences and Director, Berkeley Center for Exposure Biology, University of California, Berkeley. More than 60 DCEG fellows attended the event.

The organizing committee for the symposium included Amber Wilcox, M.P.H., Lindsey Mehl, B.A., Parisa Karimi, M.D., Dr. P.H., Jun Zhong, Ph.D., Rotana Alsaggaf, Ph.D. and Manila Hada, Ph.D., M.P.H. The DCEG Office of Education (OE), including Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Kris Kiser, M.H.A., M.S., and Diane Wigfield, supported and advised the organizing committee throughout the process.

Dr. Savage gave the opening talk titled “Beginning at the ends: Telomeres in rare and common disease”. She discussed how ‘G’ in the ‘G × E= Me’ contributes to various cancer susceptibilities, and provided an overview of telomere length in rare diseases.

Dr. Spector presented on ‘G × E: When You’re 3’. His talk highlighted the idea of few-to-no ‘smoking guns’ with respect to environmental factors affecting childhood cancer. He also spoke about his career trajectory, which was appreciated by all fellows.

Dr. Rappaport presented ‘Putting the E into G × E for Cancer Etiology’, describing how the ‘blood exposome’ represents the biologic response to all exposures and can be used to understand cancer etiology.

Fellows' Training Symposium Organizing Committee (2018)

Fellows' Training Symposium Organizing Committee

Approximately 25 of the fellows presented posters, which gave them a platform to discuss research findings and explore potential collaborations.

The DCEG OE provided information resources for fellows, including tax payment, FAES health insurance, library, fitness center, and wellness, along with tips on mentoring, self-promotion, negotiating offers.

The symposium ended with an interactive roundtable session. Twelve invited speakers, including many DCEG alumni, hosted tables on various career topics:

  • Early career research - Dr. Bill Higgins and Dr. Elena Hernandez-Ramon
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Dr. Dana van Bemmel and Dr. Hisani Madison
  • Earl Stadtman Intramural Investigator Program - Dr. Mitchell Machiela and Dr. Sharon Savage
  • NIH extramural - Dr. Armen Ghazarian and Dr. Carolyn Reyes-Guzman
  • Contracting companies/industry - Dr. Charles Chung and Dr. Jason Liu
  • Non-profit organizations - Dr. Shakira Nelson and Dr. Diana Merino
  • Academia - Drs. Rappaport and Spector

Dr. Lavigne said she was pleased to see the enthusiasm of the fellows and the invited speakers: “This may have been our best fellows’ symposium yet!” She noted how engaged the speakers and fellows were throughout the entire day. After the roundtable session and closing remarks, many attendees attended a social hour to celebrate the success of the symposium.