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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Comings...Goings

March 2011 - Linkage Newsletter

Peter Aka, Ph.D., joined the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB) as a visiting fellow. Dr. Aka attended the University of Brussels in Belgium, where he completed his M.Sc. in pharmaceutical medicine; his M.P.H. and M.Sc. in molecular biology and biotechnology, respectively; and his Ph.D. with a specialty in genetics. He has been a senior scientific officer with the Genetics Group at the Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia since 2006. In IIB, Dr. Aka will conduct research on the immunogenetics of malaria in Burkitt lymphoma under the mentorship of Sam M. Mbulaiteye, M.D., and on host gene polymorphisms influencing control of hepatitis virus infections and liver cancer risk under Thomas R. O'Brien, M.D., M.P.H.

Bryan Bassig, M.P.H., joined the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (OEEB) as a postbaccalaureate fellow. He received an M.P.H. in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. In OEEB, Mr. Bassig is working with Qing Lan, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., Nathaniel Rothman, M.D., M.P.H., M.H.S., and H. Dean Hosgood, III, Ph.D., on molecular epidemiology studies of occupational and environmental exposures in addition to etiologic studies of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Clara Bodelon, Ph.D., M.S., joined the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB) as a postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Bodelon received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, and an M.S. in epidemiology from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. In GEB, under the mentorship of Maria Teresa Landi, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. Bodelon will investigate the association between inflammation pathways and lung cancer risk, survival, and drug-related toxicity. She also will explore new statistical approaches to establishing the etiology and progression of lung cancer.

Kevin Brown, Ph.D., joined the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG) as a tenure-track investigator. Dr. Brown received a Ph.D. in genetics from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He then pursued postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Jeffrey Trent at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN) in Phoenix, Arizona. During this time, Dr. Brown extended his work in microarray analysis to gene expression profiles in Alzheimer disease and other neuromuscular disorders. In 2005, Dr. Brown was appointed associate investigator in human genetics at TGEN and was later promoted to investigator. He currently leads the analytical effort of the next-generation genome-wide association study (GWAS) on melanoma. He also conducts fine mapping of regions discovered in the melanoma GWAS using next-generation sequence technologies.

Philip E. Castle, Ph.D., M.P.H., left the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch (HREB) to become the first Executive Director of the American Society for Clinical Pathology Institute and Center for Health Services Research in Washington, D.C., where he will initiate a health services research program. He also plans to continue collaborating with DCEG researchers on human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer studies.

Yu-Cheng Chen, Ph.D., joined OEEB as a visiting fellow. Dr. Chen was trained in industrial hygiene at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. His graduate research has focused on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxin exposures in occupational settings. Before coming to DCEG, he was a visiting scholar at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he developed estimates of historical exposure levels for cohorts of nickel smelter workers and chemical industry workers. Working with Melissa Friesen, Ph.D., Dr. Chen will continue his research on occupational exposure assessment methods.

Megan Clarke, M.S., joined the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) as a predoctoral fellow. Ms. Clarke received her M.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology with a concentration in reproductive and cancer biology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, in 2010. In CGB, she will be working with Mark Schiffman, M.D., M.P.H., and will be the primary coordinator of an HPV genomics project.

Alexander Fischer joined OEEB as a postbaccalaureate fellow. He received his B.S. in biochemistry and a B.A. in Spanish, with a minor in statistics, from the University of Maryland, College Park. As an undergraduate, Mr. Fischer worked on research projects involving the epidemiology of minority health, health disparities, and culturally competent care at the University of Maryland's School of Public Health. In OEEB, he will work on the New England Bladder Cancer Study, focusing on biological markers in relation to bladder cancer, under the mentorship of Dalsu A.N. Baris, M.D., Ph.D.

Naomi Frank joined LTG as a postbaccalaureate fellow under the mentorship of Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D. Ms. Frank obtained her B.S. in biology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her project with LTG includes working on genomic and functional characterization of the NR5A2 gene, which was identified by PanScan.

Allison Guttmann joined CGB as a postbaccalaureate fellow. Ms. Guttmann received a B.A. from the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, where she studied biology and public health. In CGB, she will be working with Jennifer T. Loud, R.N., C.R.N.P., D.N.P., Deputy Chief of CGB, on the development of several analytic data sets pertaining to breast imaging and other branch studies.

Rolando Herrero, M.D., Ph.D., completed his sabbatical with IIB, during which he conducted analyses of data from the Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial to evaluate vaccine efficacy and the impact of vaccination. He has returned to the Proyecto Epidemiológico Guanacaste, Fundación INCIENSA, in San José, Costa Rica.

Jane Kim joined LTG as a postbaccalaureate fellow under the mentorship of Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D. Ms. Kim obtained her B.S. in molecular, cell, and developmental biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. In LTG, she will be working on genomic and functional characterization of genes in the chromosome 13 susceptibility locus identified by PanScan.

Dong-Hee Koh, M.D., Ph.D., joined OEEB as a visiting fellow. Dr. Koh completed his M.D., M.P.H., and Ph.D. in public health at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, with a specialty in occupational medicine. He has been a researcher at the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency since 2006. While at OEEB, Dr. Koh will focus on retrospective exposure assessment methods to assess exposure to metals in case-control studies under the mentorship of Melissa Friesen, Ph.D.

Gabriel Lai, Ph.D., joined the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch (NEB) as a Cancer Prevention Fellow. Dr. Lai received his M.H.S. and Ph.D. in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. His interests focus on diet, energy metabolism, and cancers, including those occurring in Asian populations. While in NEB, Dr. Lai will work with Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., to examine the relationship between diet and energy metabolism in liver and other cancers.

Phoebe Lee, Ph.D., joined LTG as a postdoctoral fellow. She received a Ph.D. in molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Lee's doctoral research involved studying the mechanism underlying reciprocal mitotic recombination using the model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. As a fellow in LTG, she will be working under the mentorship of Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., Chief of LTG and Director of the Core Genotyping Facility (CGF). Dr. Lee will be conducting functional validation studies for single nucleotide polymorphisms identified in cancer-specific GWAS.

Peng Li, Ph.D., joined the Biostatistics Branch (BB) as a visiting postdoctoral fellow in September 2010. He received his Ph.D. in statistics from Nankai University in Tianjin, China, and then joined the mathematics department at the Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, as a lecturer. In BB, Dr. Li is working with Jianxin Shi, Ph.D., on detecting short germline copy number variations in GWAS and testing associations between the copy number variations and cancer risks.

Sarah Locke, M.S., M.S.P.H., joined OEEB as an occupational hygiene specialist. Ms. Locke has an M.S. in entomology from the University of California, Davis, and an M.S.P.H. with an industrial hygiene emphasis from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Before joining OEEB, she was a field industrial hygienist and most recently a senior industrial hygienist at Westat in Rockville, Maryland. Ms. Locke will provide support to OEEB projects that evaluate occupational risk factors in epidemiologic studies under the mentorship of Melissa Friesen, Ph.D.

Patricia Luhn, Ph.D., M.P.H., joined HREB as a Cancer Prevention Fellow. Dr. Luhn received a Ph.D. in biochemistry and cell and developmental biology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and an M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In HREB, Dr. Luhn will focus on the epidemiology of gynecological cancers under the mentorship of Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., M.S. Dr. Luhn plans to evaluate host methylation profiles of cervical precancer and cancer in the Study to Understand Cervical Cancer Early Endpoints and Determinants (SUCCEED) and to conduct molecular epidemiologic projects in the Polish Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer Case-Control Study.

Alexander Pemov, Ph.D., M.D., joined CGB as a senior biologist contracted through Kelly Services to work with Douglas Stewart, M.D. Dr. Pemov obtained his Ph.D. in biology from the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow, Russia. He joined Dr. Stewart's group at the National Human Genome Research Institute in 2005. Dr. Pemov will continue his work with Dr. Stewart in the lab of Brigitte Widemann, M.D., of NCI's Center for Cancer Research. In his new assignment with DCEG, Dr. Pemov will focus on whole-genome sequencing of neurofibromatosis type 1–associated tumors.

Carolina Porras, Ph.D., left IIB at the completion of her fellowship to return to Costa Rica, where she is a co-investigator on the Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial.

Vikrant Sahasrabuddhe, M.B.B.S., Dr.P.H., joined HREB as a visiting fellow. He comes to HREB from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has been an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, since 2007. He received his medical training from the University of Pune in India and his M.P.H. and Dr.P.H. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In HREB, he will work with Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., on the impact of HIV infection on HPV natural history and on screening approaches for prevention of HPV-related cancers.

Wendy Schneider-Levinson joined the Office of Communications and Special Initiatives to become the Managing Editor of DCEG Linkage. She previously worked in NCI's Office of Communications and Education, where she served as a communications liaison, planning and coordinating communications programs and services for DCEG, the Center for Cancer Research, and other NCI offices. Ms. Schneider-Levinson received a B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and has extensive professional experience developing both internal and external communications for private industry. In addition to working on DCEG Linkage, she will be updating content on the DCEG public-facing web site.

Nilabja Sikdar, Ph.D., joined LTG as a research fellow after completing his postdoctoral fellowship at the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute under the mentorship of Dr. Kyungjae Myung. Dr. Sikdar obtained his Ph.D. from the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, India. In LTG, his work will focus on a chromosome 11 project for prostate, renal, and breast cancers under the direction of Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., Chief of LTG and Director of the CGF.

Allessandro Villa, D.D.S., left IIB after completing his fellowship to become a research fellow at the University of Milano in Italy.