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Current Fellows in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch

Ilona Argirion Kabara, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Ilona Argirion Kabara, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) in February 2020 as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Argirion earned her M.P.H. in epidemiological methods and applications and her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she conducted research on head and neck cancer. Prior to joining IIB, she worked to establish and managed several international epidemiological studies aiming to investigate molecular biomarkers of oral cancer development, infectious disease etiology in oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and the role of occupational exposures on head and cancer development. She is currently working with Jill Koshiol, Ph.D., investigator, IIB, studying hepatobiliary cancer, and Allan Hildesheim, Ph.D., senior investigator, IIB, to study Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related cancers.

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

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.

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. – Research Fellow

Minkyo Song, M.D., Ph.D, joined the Infectious and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) in June 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow, and was promoted to research fellow in March 2020. 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 the role of autoimmunity and chronic inflammation in carcinogenesis. She is currently working with Eric A. Engels, M.D., senior investigator and Chief, IIB, and Maria Constanza Camargo, Ph.D., Earl Stadtman investigator, Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), to investigate the associations of autoimmune diseases with cancer risk using large medical claims databases and epidemiologic population-based cohorts.

Scientific Publications – Minkyo Song