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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Current Fellows in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch

Sarah S. Jackson,  Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Sarah S. Jackson, Ph.D., joined the Infectious and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) in May 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow. She earned her Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Dr. Jackson’s doctoral research focused on risk prediction models for healthcare-associated infections. Prior to joining IIB, she worked in vaccine clinical trials at The EMMES Corporation and with the AIDS Clinical Trials Group at Social & Scientific Systems. Dr. Jackson’s research interests include epidemiologic methods, predictive modeling, infections associated with biliary tract cancer, and the role of genetics in disease development. She is currently working with Jill Koshiol, Ph.D., investigator, IIB, utilizing the Biliary Tract Cancers Pooling Project (BiTCaPP) to study risk factors for biliary tract cancer. She is also working with Thomas O’Brien, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, IIB, to study the role of IFNL4 genotype in several infections.

Scientific Publications - Sarah S. Jackson

Joy Jiang, Sc.B. - Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Portrait of Joy Jiang

Joy Jiang, Sc.B., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postbaccalaureate fellow in August 2019. Ms. Jiang graduated with concentrations in biochemistry/molecular biology and anthropology from Brown University in May 2019. She completed her honors thesis for her degree in biochemistry/molecular biology in the lab of Dr. Michelle R. Dawson, where she studied the morphological and malignant characteristics of Polyploidal Giant Cancer Cells (PGCCs) in breast cancer. Ms. Jiang is currently working with Thomas R. O’Brien, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, IIB, to examine the contribution of hepatitis viremia to hepatocellular carcinoma and elucidate the role of the IFNL4 protein in hepatocellular carcinoma and opportunistic infections.

Zhiwei Liu, Ph.D. - Research Fellow

Zhiwei Liu, Ph.D., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2016, and was promoted to research fellow in 2019.  He received a B.S. in preventive medicine from Sun Yat-sen University, China (2009) and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden in 2016.  Under the mentorship of Allan Hildesheim, Ph.D., senior investigator, IIB, Dr. Liu’s research seeks to examine the etiology of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related cancers, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), and Burkitt lymphoma (BL).  He is also working with Jill Koshiol, Ph.D., investigator, IIB, to understand the etiology of hepatobiliary cancers.  In addition, Dr. Liu is interested in immunogenetics of cancer, with a focus on investigating the associations between genetic polymorphisms of immune-related genes (e.g. human leukocyte antigen and cytokines) and cancer.  

Scientific Publications - Zhiwei Liu

Qianlai Luo, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Qianlai Luo

Qianlai Luo, Ph.D., joined the Infectious and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) in June 2019 as a postdoctoral fellow. She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology with a concentration in infectious diseases from The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, an M.S. in health ecology and health economics from Harvard University, and her B.Engg. in chemical engineering from Tsinghua University. Prior to joining IIB, Dr. Luo was a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health at the University of Oulu (Finland), where she worked on environmental and climate health topics. While at UNC, she studied patient-provider communication patterns, as well as the use of integrative cancer therapies among cancer patients. Before beginning her Ph.D. studies at UNC, Dr. Luo worked in a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment program in southwest China. Dr. Luo’s research interests include descriptive epidemiology, cancer prevention, and health disparities. She is currently working with Meredith Shiels, Ph.D., tenure track investigator, IIB, to study cancer epidemiology in HIV-infected people with data from cancer registries and the HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study. She will expand her descriptive work to include other risk factors and cancer sites in future studies.

Parag Mahale, M.B.B.S., Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Parag Mahale, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2016. Dr. Mahale earned his M.B.B.S. degree from Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital in Mumbai, India (2006) and an M.P.H. in epidemiology and biostatistics from the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas (2011). Dr. Mahale earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology (2016) from the University of Texas Health Science Center, where he utilized data from the SEER-Medicare database and the Veterans Affairs Clinical Case Registries to determine the associations of hepatitis C virus (HCV) with non-liver cancers and the effect of anti-HCV therapy on the incidence of extrahepatic manifestations of chronic HCV infection. During his graduate studies, Dr. Mahale also worked as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Harrys A. Torres at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, focusing on the epidemiology of HCV infections in cancer patients. In DCEG, he is working with Eric A. Engels, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, IIB. Dr. Mahale is examining the risk factors for cancers associated with infections, immunosuppression, and inflammation by utilizing data from the Transplant-Cancer Match study, the HIV-Cancer Match study, and the SEER-Medicare linked database. He is also working with Thomas O’Brien, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, IIB, to determine the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in HDV-infected individuals in the Gambia Liver Cancer study.  

Scientific Publications – Parag Mahale

Sally Peprah, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Sally Peprah, Ph.D., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2017. Dr. Peprah earned a B. Pharm degree in 2009 from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. She then obtained an M.S.P.H in international health in 2013 and a Ph.D. in epidemiology in 2017, both from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For her doctoral research, Dr. Peprah examined prevention and control of cervical cancer among high-risk women; she was mentored by Dr. Amber D’Souza. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Peprah is continuing her research work on oncogenic viruses and virus associated cancers. Working with Sam Mbulaiteye, M.D., investigator, IIB, Dr. Peprah investigates environmental, sociodemographic and genetic risk factors in addition to the role of malaria immunology in the etiology of Burkitt Lymphoma—work utilizing data from the Epidemiology of Burkitt Lymphoma in East-African Children and Minors (EMBLEM) study. Dr. Peprah also is working with Aimée R. Kreimer, Ph.D., investigator, IIB, to assess the ecology of non-16/18 HPV infections among HPV 16/18 vaccinated women in the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial. Working with Meredith Shiels, Ph.D., investigator, IIB, Dr. Peprah is conducting descriptive studies of Kaposi Sarcoma among HIV-infected people in the United States.

Scientific Publications – Sally Peprah

Minkyo Song, M.D., Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Minkyo Song, M.D., Ph.D, joined the Infectious and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) in June 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Song earned her M.D. in 2005 at Seoul National University College of Medicine and completed her residency in preventive medicine in 2012 at the same institution. Prior to joining IIB, Dr. Song received her Ph.D. in epidemiology in 2015 from the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Seoul National University College of Medicine, working with Dr. Daehee Kang. Her doctoral research focused on developing gastric cancer risk prediction models for the Korean population. She has been a collaborating investigator of the Asian Cohort Consortium since 2009. Dr. Song’s research interests include chronic infection and inflammation associated with gastric and other cancers, and the complex roles of genetics and epigenetics in carcinogenesis. Dr. Song is currently working with Charles Rabkin, M.D., senior investigator, IIB, and Maria Constanza Camargo, Ph.D., Earl Stadtman investigator, Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), to investigate the epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated with the risk of gastric cancer.

Scientific Publications – Minkyo Song

Sabrina H. Tsang, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Sabrina H. Tsang, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as an NCI Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2017. She received a B.S. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, in 2010 and earned her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, in 2015. Working with Dr. Jianxin You, her doctoral research focused on the tumor antigens of Merkel cell polyomavirus, particularly their role in viral replication. Upon acceptance to the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program in 2016, Dr. Tsang pursued her M.P.H. at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she focused on quantitative methods in epidemiology and biostatistics. Under the mentorship of Dr. Lorelei Mucci, she performed a survival analysis, comparing prostate cancer patients with or without trichomoniasis. Guided by her interest in infection-related cancers, Dr. Tsang is now working with Aimee R. Kreimer, Ph.D., senior investigator, IIB, to better understand human papillomavirus vaccine efficacy in the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial.

Scientific Publications – Sabrina H. Tsang