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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

2011 DCEG Summer Fellows Recognition and Poster Event

November 2011 - Linkage Newsletter

by Kristin Kiser, M.H.A., M.S.

Every year, DCEG welcomes a group of summer fellows, ranging from high school to doctoral students, who conduct various research projects under the mentorship of DCEG scientists. In August, at the 13th Annual DCEG Summer Fellows Recognition and Poster Event, the Division celebrated the accomplishments of 27 talented summer fellows and their 37 DCEG mentors. The event brought together many DCEG staff members, who viewed the posters and discussed the students' projects.

Summer fellows with event speakers and Office of the Director staff.As the featured speakers, Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., M.D., DCEG Director, Shelia Hoar Zahm, Sc.D., DCEG Deputy Director, and Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of DCEG's Office of Education (OE), shared their insights about developments in cancer epidemiology research and careers in science. Dr. Fraumeni stated that the summer fellows had arrived at DCEG at a very exciting time in cancer research, including the fields of epidemiology, genetics, statistics, and related areas. He pointed to the revolutionary advances in genomics that are providing unparalleled opportunities for cancer research and training across the Division and NCI. Kristin Kiser, M.H.A., M.S., fellowship coordinator in OE, with support from Tess Lee, OE program assistant, hosted and organized the recognition event.

This year, a new feature of the training experience was the Journal Club for Summer Fellows in Cancer Epidemiology: Etiology, Prevention, and Policy, which was organized by several NCI postdoctoral fellows, including Brandy Heckman-Stoddard, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention; Shih-Wen (Wenny) Lin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Nutritional Epidemiology Branch; Sarah E. Daugherty Weller, Ph.D., M.P.H., Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch; and Hannah P. Yang, Ph.D., Sc.M., Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch. Discussion topics were taken from recent news events, including reports on potential environmental cancer hazards, developments in cancer genetics, and other noteworthy research findings that deserve epidemiologic attention. Journal club members learned about key methods and general approaches used in epidemiology as well as how to critically evaluate scientific publications.

The summer program is extremely competitive. This year alone, DCEG received close to 400 applicants. Students interested in applying for 2012 summer fellowships with DCEG are encouraged to learn more about the Division's research. Starting in mid-November, students should complete a short summary application.

2011 DCEG Summer Fellows Posters and Projects

Melissa Braganza, Washington University
Exploring the relationship between ionizing radiation and the risk of brain/CNS tumors
Mentors: Cari Meinhold Kitahara, Ph.D., and Preetha Rajaraman, Ph.D., both of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB)

Nathan Brand, Colorado College
Functional annotation of genetic variants associated with prostate cancer risk
Mentors: Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., and McAnthony D. Tarway, both of the Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG)

Laura Burke, George Washington University
Association between telomere length and risk of melanoma
Mentors: Paula Hyland, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Xiaohong Rose Yang, Ph.D., M.P.H., both of the Genetic Epidemiology Branch (GEB)

Evan Caporaso, University of Maryland
Analysis of life technologies/Ambion RNA-SEQ kit for the personal genome machine
Mentor: Joseph Boland, Core Genotyping Facility (CGF)

Joanne Chang, University of Michigan School of Public Health
Investigating human herpesvirus 8 infection among adults in Uganda: A factor analysis approach
Mentors: Sam M. Mbulaiteye, M.D., and Fatma Shebl, M.D., Ph.D., both of the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB)

Carrie Epstein, Wake Forest University
Understanding and visualizing large genomic datasets
Mentor: Kevin B. Jacobs (CGF)

Nick Estes, University of South Carolina
Taqman genotyping in the CGF Laboratory
Mentor: Michelle Manning (CGF)

Shing Han, University of Maryland
Spatially invariant vector quantization for histological analysis in the BREAST Stamp Project
Mentor: Gretchen L. Gierach, Ph.D., Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch (HREB)

Julianna Hsing, Winston Churchill High School
A summer journey: HPV, HLA, and cervical cancer
Mentor: Mahboobeh Safaeian, Ph.D. (IIB)

Demetrice Jordan, Georgia State University
Determinants of organochlorine pesticides in homes in Seattle, Detroit, Iowa, and Los Angeles
Mentors: Curt DellaValle, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Mary H. Ward, Ph.D., both of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch

Catherine Kennedy, University of Maryland
Search for functional elements in the TERT-CLPTM1L GWAS region on chromosome 5p15
Mentors: Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., and Jia Jinping, Ph.D. (both of LTG)

Michael Kovacs, Washington University
Identification of PRKAR1A as a potential melanoma tumor suppressor functioning through MITF regulation
Mentors: Kevin Brown, Ph.D., and Mai Xu, Ph.D. (both of LTG)

Alina Kutsenko, Weill Cornell Medical College
Population-based risks of benign brain tumors among one year cancer survivors
Mentors: Rochelle E. Curtis, M.A., and Preetha Rajaraman, Ph.D. (both of REB)

Eunah Lee, Richard Montgomery High School
Variation of CT dose indices in past and current CT scanners
Mentors: Stephanie Lamart, Ph.D., and Choonsik Lee, Ph.D. (both of REB)

Luyang Liu, Barnard College
Exploration of DNA-protein interactions within the promoter region of the PSCA gene
Mentors: Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D., and Wei Tang, Ph.D. (both of LTG)

Wayne Liu, Johns Hopkins University
Molecular and histological predictors of BRAF and RAS positive mutations in advanced-stage papillary thyroid cancer
Mentors: Alina V. Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., Gila Neta, Ph.D., M.P.P., and Alice J. Sigurdson, Ph.D. (all of REB)

Diana Ly, University of California, Los Angeles
An international comparison of male breast cancer incidence
Mentor: Michael B. Cook, Ph.D. (HREB)

Artem Morgun, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, Ukraine
Development of a Monte Carlo radiation transport code for organ dose calculation in patients undergoing radiography examinations
Mentor: Choonsik Lee, Ph.D. (REB)

Elizabeth Mosher, Madeira High School
A review of studies on Monte Carlo simulations of proton therapy beams
Mentors: Stephanie Lamart, Ph.D., and Choonsik Lee, Ph.D. (both of REB)

Elaine Nghiem, University of Maryland
Does smoking influence breast cancer risk through mammographic density?
Mentor: Barbara J. Fuhrman, Ph.D. (HREB)

Emily Purcell, Lehigh University
All mixed up: The role of CEP57 in aneuploidy
Mentor: Joseph Kovacs (LTG)

Alexandra Scott-Johnson, University of Maryland
Exploration of functional mechanisms that link the CCNE1 gene and its genetic variants with risk of bladder cancer
Mentors: Indu Kohaar, Ph.D., and Ludmila Prokunina-Olsson, Ph.D. (both of LTG)

Stephanie Shao, Yale School of Public Health
The association of quercetin intake and microRNA expression in EAGLE lung cancer tissue
Mentors: Tram Kim Lam, Ph.D., and Maria Teresa Landi, M.D., Ph.D. (both of GEB)

Llewellyn Smith, Walt Whitman High School
Body mass index and lung cancer risk among never, former, and current smokers in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study
Mentor: Gretchen L. Gierach, Ph.D. (HREB)

Kathleen Tatem, St. Mary's College
Serum immunoglobulin free light chain measurements and familial chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Mentors: Neil E. Caporaso, M.D., Chief of GEB, and Lynn R. Goldin, Ph.D., Deputy Chief of GEB

Yenny Webb-Vargas, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Temporal trends in reproductive risk factors and estrogen receptor-defined breast cancer incidence
Mentors: William F. Anderson, M.D., M.P.H., and Ruth M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., both of the Biostatistics Branch

Jeannette Wong, Washington University
Risk of second cancer related to chemotherapy and radiation treatment in long-term survivors of retinoblastoma
Mentor: Ruth A. Kleinerman, M.P.H. (REB)

Reflections from 2011 DCEG Summer Fellows

My summer experience at DCEG gave me the opportunity to grow and develop professionally with exciting research projects and great mentoring while also getting to meet other interns and explore Washington, D.C. —Melissa Braganza

My DCEG internship has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Rarely does a student get to try out the life of an NIH researcher over the summer, working collaboratively with and receiving training from some of the best researchers in the world. —Eunah Lee

I came into the lab very nervous but ended up loving my experience. I learned more about genetics than I ever thought I would and made some very good friends. My mentor was wonderful; he was able to answer every question I had and helped me with my first poster and presentations. —Emily Purcell

DCEG is an amazing environment for budding scientists to develop their true passions. I am forever grateful to my mentors for sharing their enthusiasm, knowledge, and commitment to scientific inquiry. —Stephanie Shao