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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention
 

Current Fellows in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch

Meet the current fellows in the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch and learn about research training opportunities.

Christian S. Alvarez Privado, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Christian S. Alvarez Privado, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., joined MEB as a postdoctoral fellow in May 2018. He earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to pursuing his Ph.D., Dr. Alvarez received an M.S. in public health from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. For his doctoral research, he explored the current epidemiological profile of prostate cancer in southern Thailand and assessed the potential impact of introducing a population-based screening program for prostate cancer on the burden of the disease in that region. Dr. Alvarez has also conducted research on cervical cancer screening programs in Latin America and in the Caribbean. He coordinated the development of a national plan for the prevention and control of cervical cancer in Guatemala. In MEB, Dr. Alvarez works with Katherine A. McGlynn, Ph.D., senior investigator, on studies of liver cancer in the United States and internationally.

 Scientific publications -Christian Alvarez

Simran Arjani, B.S. – Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Portrait of Simran Arjani

Simran Arjani, B.S., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) fellow in August 2020. Ms. Arjani is currently a medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and is joining MEB for a one-year fellowship before her last year of school. Her previous research endeavors have included cost-effectiveness analyses focused on ambiguities in oncological therapeutic practices. She is also committed to lifestyle medicine education and developing community education tools related to nutrition, physical exercise, and mental health. Her primary research interests lie at the intersection of these experiences – on the impact of modifiable lifestyle factors on cancer incidence, prognosis, and treatment. In MEB, Ms. Arjani is currently working with Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior investigator, to investigate the role of gender and the association with BMI at different stages of life, other measures of adiposity, and the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Eboneé Nicole Butler, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Eboneé Nicole Butler, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined DCEG as an NCI Cancer Prevention Fellow in October 2017. Dr. Butler earned a B.A. in biochemistry from Rice University in Houston, Texas and an M.P.H. in epidemiology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She completed her Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Butler’s research interests center on integrating epidemiology, molecular biology, and pathology to identify and evaluate prognostic and predictive biomarkers in prostate and breast tumors. Her research also seeks to better understand prostate and breast cancer etiology in people of African descent. In the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch, Dr. Butler works with Michael B. Cook, Ph.D., investigator, to examine prostate cancer etiology and to evaluate novel biomarkers that may identify aggressive prostate tumors at time of diagnosis.

 Scientific Publications - Eboneé Butler

Zeinab Farhat, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Shilan Li

Zeinab Farhat, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2020. Dr. Farhat received her Ph.D. in epidemiology at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, with a concentration in cancer epidemiology. Her research focuses on cancer prevention through the study of dietary and other modifiable lifestyle factors and uses biomarkers to reveal potential underlying mechanisms of carcinogenesis. In the long-term, Dr. Farhat aims to extend her research on lifestyle factors to cancer survival, with a focus on the role of diet in the prognosis of cancer. In MEB, Dr. Farhat is currently working with Erikka Loftfield, Ph.D., M.P.H., Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator, investigating modifiable risk factors, particularly diet, for colorectal cancer using an integrated omics approach to better understand the impact of human and microbial metabolism on diet-cancer associations.

Scientific Publications – Zeinab Farhat

Andres Julian Gutierrez Escobar, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Andres J. Gutierrez-Escobar, Ph.D., joined MEB as a postdoctoral fellow in February 2019. He received an M.S. in biomedical sciences from the Universidad del Quindío and a Ph.D. in biology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia. His dissertation focused on phylogenomic analysis of Helicobacter pylori isolates from residents in high gastric cancer risk area in Colombia. Dr. Gutierrez works on the Helicobacter pylori Genome Project under the mentorship of M. Constanza Camargo, Ph.D., Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator, MEB, and Charles Rabkin, M.D., senior investigator, Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch. He also works with Dr. Camargo and Christian Abnet, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief and senior investigator, MEB, on a gastric cancer genome-wide association study in Hispanics/Latinos.

Daniela S. Gutiérrez-Torres, Sc.D., M.S. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Daniela Gutierrez Torres

Daniela S. Gutiérrez-Torres, Sc.D., M.S., joined the MEB as a postdoctoral fellow in November 2019. She earned her Sc.D. in epidemiology from the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) of Mexico in 2017.  For her doctoral research, she evaluated associations between prenatal exposure to environmental contaminants and cardiometabolic risk traits in childhood. After graduating, Dr. Gutiérrez-Torres worked at the INSP Tobacco Research Department evaluating the effect of tobacco control policies on smoking patterns in Mexico. In MEB, she is working with Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, and other researchers, to analyze the impact of occasional smoking on cancer risk and mortality in the United States and worldwide.

Scientific Publications - Daniela S. Gutiérrez-Torres

Lauren Hurwitz, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Lauren Hurwitz, Ph.D., joined MEB as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2018. Dr. Hurwitz received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2018.   For her doctoral research, she evaluated associations between use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and prostate cancer incidence, mortality, and recurrence. She also investigated the relationship between aspirin use and markers of immune cells in prostate tissue. In MEB, Dr. Hurwitz is working with Britton Trabert, Ph.D., investigator, to examine whether modifiable risk factors modify associations between aspirin use and cancer risk, and Michael Cook, Ph.D., investigator, to study the etiology of and risk factors for prostate cancer.

Scientific Publications – Lauren Hurwitz

Gieira S. Jones, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Gieira Jones

Gieira S. Jones, Ph.D., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in August 2020. Dr. Jones earned her B.S. in biology from Elizabeth City State University, her M.S. in epidemiology from Temple University, and her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Jones was previously with DCEG as a postbaccalaureate scholar in the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program and worked with Dr. James Goedert and other DCEG investigators on microbiome studies. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jones will work with Katherine McGlynn, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, MEB, to investigate racial/ethnic differences in the risks of hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, as well as other liver cancer-related topics.

Scientific Publications - Gieira Jones

Sachelly Julian-Serrano, M.H.S.N., R.D.– Postbaccalaureate Fellow

Sachelly Julian-Serrano joined MEB as a postbaccalaureate fellow in October 2018. Ms. Julian-Serrano earned her master’s degree in public health with specialization in nutrition from the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus in 2017. Her master’s research project focused on the modifying effect of genetic ancestry in the association of red and processed meats consumption and colorectal neoplasia risk in Puerto Rican Hispanics, under the mentorship of Dr. Marcia Cruz-Correa. In July 2018, she completed her dietetic internship program from the same university. Sachelly is currently working with Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior investigator, MEB, where she investigates the genetic susceptibility of higher blood iron levels and hematologic traits and risk of pancreatic cancer within the PanScan and PanC4 consortia.

Wayne Lawrence, Dr.P.H., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Wayne Lawrence

Wayne Lawrence, Dr.P.H., M.P.H, joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow in September 2020. Dr. Lawrence earned his Dr.P.H in epidemiology from the University at Albany, The State University of New York in 2020. His research is devoted chiefly, but not exclusively, to the field of cancer epidemiology with an emphasis on minority and economically disadvantaged populations. In his doctoral work, Dr. Lawrence linked New York State Cancer Registry and Medicaid Program data to investigate the influence of preexisting metabolic disorder at breast cancer diagnosis on long-term survival. Dr. Lawrence is working with Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, MEB, to investigate prostate cancer etiology, metabolomic profiling of cancer and other phenotypes, and racial/ethnic cancer disparities.

Scientific Publications - Wayne Lawrence

Jungeun Lim, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Junguen Lim

Jungeun Lim, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in May 2020. Dr. Lim earned her Ph.D. in public health from the Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea, in 2016. Her doctoral work focused on endocrine disruptors, including PCBs, bisphenol A, and phthalates, as potential risk factors for various cancers. In particular, Dr. Lim investigated the role of serum persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on the progression of prostate cancer. She has also conducted research on menopausal hormone therapy and risk of breast cancer, including associations by race and histological type. Dr. Lim will be working with Demetrius Albanes, M.D., senior investigator, MEB, to investigate prostate cancer etiology and survival, including the role of micronutrients, vitamin supplementation, and circulating metabolites, as well as the genetic components of these exposures and associations.

Kathleen M. McClain, Ph.D., M.S. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Kathleen M. McClain, Ph.D., M.S., joined MEB as a postdoctoral fellow in September 2018. Dr. McClain earned her Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2018, her M.S. in biostatistics from Georgetown University, and her B.S. in mathematics from Hofstra University. Her doctoral research focused on associations between dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids and Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal adenocarcinoma, and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma under the mentorship of Dr. Marilie Gammon. Her research interests include modifiable lifestyle factors and cancer, particularly in rare tumors. Dr. McClain is working with Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., M.P.H., investigator, MEB, on studies examining the components of energy balance, metabolomics, and cancer.

Scientific Publications - Kathleen McClain

Kara Michels, Ph.D.- Research Fellow

Kara Michels, Ph.D., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) of DCEG in 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow and was promoted to research fellow in 2019. She previously completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). She received her Ph.D. in epidemiology from Vanderbilt University (2014), her M.P.H. from the University of Kentucky, and her B.A. in biology from Willamette University. Dr. Michels studies the health of women’s reproductive systems, focusing on improving our understanding of the metabolic pathways that play a role in the development of gynecologic cancer. She is also interested in how potentially modifiable factors—such as diet, obesity, sleep, infection, and medication use—influence cancer risk through these pathways. At DCEG, Dr. Michels works under the mentorship of Britton Trabert, Ph.D., M.S., investigator, MEB, and conducts studies on molecular markers and reproductive factors associated with ovarian and endometrial cancer risk. 

Scientific Publications - Kara Michels

Sabine Naudin, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Sabine Naudin

Sabine Naudin, Ph.D., M.P.H, joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as postdoctoral fellow in January 2020. After her training in nutrition in Paris (France), Dr. Naudin practiced several years as research assistant in French agencies for food safety. In 2019, she earned her Ph.D. in epidemiology from Lyon University at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). For her doctoral research, she investigated the role of alcohol consumption and lifestyle factors on the risk of pancreatic cancer and lymphoma in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Her research interests are strongly motivated by her desire to investigate environmental determinants of cancers related to lifestyle and diet, and their potential role for cancer prevention. In MEB, Dr. Naudin is working with Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D, M.P.H., R.D., to investigate the etiology of pancreatic cancer through various study designs and molecular approaches to identify and characterize risk factors particularly related to lifestyle and nutritional exposures.

 Scientific Publications - Sabine Naudin

Omonefe Omofuma, Ph.D., M.S. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Omonefe Omofuma

Omonefe Omofuma, Ph.D., M.S., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in June 2020. Dr. Omofuma received her B.Pharm degree from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria (2008). She obtained her M.S. in pharmacy administration from Long Island University, NY (2014) and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina (2019). During her Ph.D. training, Dr. Omofuma was a Susan G. Komen Graduate Trainee in Disparities Research. Her research was focused on diet and modifiable factors and disparities in cancer outcomes under the mentorship of Dr. Susan E. Steck. More specifically, she studied the role of dietary advanced glycation end-products in breast cancer risk and survival. Dr. Omofuma’s research interests include examining multiple cancer risk factors, including modifiable and molecular factors. In DCEG, she is working with Michael Cook, Ph.D., senior investigator, MEB, to investigate the descriptive epidemiology, etiology, and predictive biomarkers of esophageal adenocarcinoma and its precursor metaplasia Barrett’s esophagus.

Scientific Publications - Omonefe Omofuma

Natalie Rose Pritchett, M.S.P.H. – Predoctoral Fellow

Natalie Rose Pritchett, M.S.P.H., joined MEB as a predoctoral fellow in September 2018. Ms. Pritchett earned her M.S.P.H. in health policy and management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011. Working with Dr. Douglas Morgan, her thesis research focused on a cost-effectiveness analysis of screening and treating H. pylori to prevent stomach cancer in a high-risk population in Honduras. Since her graduation, she completed a Peace Corps service in Nicaragua and worked as an oncology research assistant in Rwanda for Partners in Health. In September 2018, Ms. Pritchett returned to school to earn a Dr.P.H. from George Washington University with a concentration in environmental and occupational health. Ms. Pritchett’s research interests include the study of upper gastrointestinal cancers in high-risk populations and environmental exposure risk factors, particularly indoor air pollution and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Ms. Pritchett is working with Sanford M. Dawsey M.D., senior investigator, MEB, to investigate the epidemiology of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in hotspot areas, especially the distinct geographic band along the eastern Africa corridor extending from Ethiopia to South Africa.

Scientific Publications – Natalie Pritchett

Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Pedro Saint-Maurice, Ph.D., joined MEB as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2016. He obtained his Ph.D. in kinesiology at Iowa State University in 2013 under the supervision of Gregory Welk. He subsequently worked as a research consultant, establishing research collaborations/consulting services between the Physical Activity and Health Promotion Laboratory at Iowa State University and the Cooper Institute, located in Dallas, Texas. His dissertation work focused on developing more accurate methods to build/test physical activity measures for epidemiology research and culminated with the creation and calibration of an online instrument called the Youth Activity Profile (YAP) that is now being used as part of a large childhood obesity campaign in the NFL PLAY60 FITNESSGRAM project.  In MEB, Dr. Saint-Maurice is working under the mentorship of Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., senior investigator. His research focuses on understanding the dose-response relationship between physical activity and different chronic diseases, including cancer. Dr. Saint-Maurice is also interested in different physical activity measurement tools and the impact of measurement error when studying the benefits of physical activity for health. 

Scientific Publications – Pedro Saint-Maurice

Zeni Wu, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Portrait of Zeni Wu

Zeni Wu, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined the Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB) as a postdoctoral fellow in August 2019. Dr. Wu earned her M.P.H. in July 2016 and her Ph.D. in epidemiology and biostatistics in July 2019, both from Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College. Her doctoral research focused on primary and secondary prevention of cervical cancer, including evaluation of the HPV vaccine and cervical cancer screening methods in the Chinese population. In MEB, Dr. Wu is working with Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D., M.P.H., Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator, Christian Abnet, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief and senior investigator, and Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., senior investigator. With her mentors, Dr. Wu is investigating the association between the microbiome and cancer and studying risk factors for small intestine cancer.

Scientific Publications – Zeni Wu

Yukiko Yano, Ph.D., M.P.H. – Postdoctoral Fellow

Yukiko Yano, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined MEB as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2019. Dr. Yano earned her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. Prior to obtaining her Ph.D., Dr. Yano received an M.P.H. in environmental health from Emory University. Her doctoral research involved measurements of protein adducts in archived newborn dried blood spots to explore fetal exposures associated with childhood leukemia. Dr. Yano is working with the MEB microbiome group under the mentorship of Christian Abnet, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief and senior investigator; Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., senior investigator; and Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D., M.P.H., Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator. Her research includes methodologic and etiologic studies of the human oral microbiome as well as studies of risk factors for esophageal and gastric cancer.

Scientific Publications - Yukiko Yano