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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

DCEG Summer Fellows Recognition and Poster Event

November 2013 - Linkage Newsletter

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

The 2013 DCEG Summer Fellows Program welcomed 16 students, ranging from high school through doctoral level. The program’s culminating event was the annual DCEG Summer Fellows Recognition and Poster Event, which celebrated the accomplishments of summer fellows during their stay (generally 8 to 10 weeks) in DCEG. This year’s event, organized by Kristin Kiser, M.H.A., M.S., fellowship coordinator in DCEG’s Office of Education (OE), featured 10 student posters and gave summer fellows the opportunity to display their research projects and discuss them with DCEG staff. Many students also presented their work at the NIH Summer Student Poster Session.

The recognition program included presentations by two DCEG postdoctoral fellows, Lauren Houghton, Ph.D., Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, and Jason Hoskins, Ph.D., Laboratory of Translational Genomics. In addition, DCEG Director Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., offered accolades to the summer students.

During her presentation, Dr. Houghton explained how her international family origins and desire to study health outcomes across different cultures led her to integrate her anthropology training with epidemiologic research methods for her dissertation work in DCEG.

When speaking to the summer fellows, Dr. Hoskins described the ups and downs he experienced as he embarked on his career in biomedical research. As he progressed through a postdoctoral fellowship after finishing doctoral work in biochemistry, his enthusiasm for science waned until he sought out new scientific approaches that re-ignited his passion and led to his current work in genomics.

Throughout the summer, Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of OE, and Ms. Kiser hosted weekly orientations for new arrivals. In addition, the NIH Office of Training and Education offered a wide variety of lectures given by NIH scientists as well as workshops targeted for summer students that provided practical information, such as tips on writing applications for graduate or medical school.

Working at NCI has given me the opportunity to collaborate with talented scientists and fellows who are deeply passionate about their areas of research. I enjoyed learning various skills throughout this summer as well as interacting with a range of people.

—Jack Wen

DCEG fellows interact with summer students as individual mentors and in group activities. For the fourth summer in a row, Sarah Daugherty, Ph.D., M.P.H., Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch, organized and hosted a four-session Journal Club for Summer Fellows in Cancer Epidemiology: Etiology, Prevention, and Policy. The club provided a forum for discussing various scientific topics, such as new discoveries, and the public’s reaction to media reports of scientific advances.

The official application process for the 2014 DCEG summer program will begin in mid-November. Students interested in applying are encouraged to learn more about DCEG research and complete a short summary application at Students should then visit the NIH Summer Program site at to complete the full online application.

Posters and Projects by 2013 DCEG Summer Fellows

Rebecca Chornock, Drexel University College of Medicine
Tissue immune cell markers in cervical carcinogenesis: A systematic review
Mentors: Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., M.S., and Vikrant V. Sahasrabuddhe, M.B.B.S., Dr.P.H., both of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch

Jesse Diasparra, University of South Florida College of Public Health
Correlations of fecal cytokines with microbiome parameters in human volunteers
Mentor: James J. Goedert, M.D., Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch (IIB)

Nicole Ehlert, University of Maryland, College Park.
Social support networks of women in BRCA1/2 positive families: As seen through Colored Eco-Genetic Relationship Maps (CEGRM)
Mentors: Lindsey Hoskins, Ph.D., L.C.M.F.T., Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB), Jennifer T. Loud, R.N., C.R.N.P., D.N.P., Deputy Chief of CGB, June A. Peters, M.S., C.G.C. (CGB), and Laura M. Koehly, Ph.D., Social and Behavioral Research Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute

It has been exciting to see firsthand how new technology can improve research and clinical practices. I’ve not only learned important lessons about constructive collaboration from my mentor, Dr. Wacholder, and all of the people I’ve worked with but I’ve also learned about the value of what we do.

—Christine Fermo

Christine Fermo, New York University
A laptop and smartphone app for planning a biomarker study
Mentor: Sholom Wacholder, Ph.D., Biostatistics Branch

Brian Ho, Rice University
Sequencing the exons of the CEP57 gene
Mentors: Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., DCEG Director, and Timothy Myers, Laboratory of Translational Genomics (LTG)

Steve Kemgang, Eleanor Roosevelt High School
PRDM 9: Recombination, allele frequency, and cancer. Analysis from a childhood leukemia cohort
Mentors: Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., DCEG Director, and Timothy Myers (LTG)

Catherine Kennedy, University of Maryland, College Park
Functional characterization of the 13q12.2/PDX1 genomic locus in association with pancreatic cancer risk
Mentors: Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., and Jason Hoskins, Ph.D. (both of LTG)

Nathan Koelper, Wabash College
The role of diverticulitis in colorectal cancer and The association of systemic inflammatory markers with colorectal cancer and adenomas
Mentors: Sonja I. Berndt, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (OEEB), and Mahboobeh Safaeian, Ph.D. (IIB)

Justine Lottermoser, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Chromosome conformation capture in the chr13q22.1 pancreatic cancer risk locus
Mentors: Laufey Amundadottir, Ph.D., and Jinping Jia, Ph.D. (both of LTG)

Emily McDonald, Indiana University, Bloomington
Prescription diuretic use and risk of basal cell carcinoma in the United States Radiologic Technologists cohort
Mentors: Elizabeth Khaykin Cahoon, Ph.D., M.H.S., and D. Michal Freedman, Ph.D., both of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB)

The best part about this summer was having a mentor [Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon] who was committed to helping me succeed. She took the time to connect me with people she thought could help me with my project, and she was always willing to take the time to discuss questions.

—Marina Piper

Larissa Pardo, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Using hierarchical clustering models to identify metal-related exposure scenarios from occupational questionnaire responses in a population-based case-control study
Mentor: Melissa Friesen, Ph.D. (OEEB)

Marina Piper, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Vitamin D-binding protein and pancreatic cancer: A nested case-control study
Mentor: Rachael Stoltzenberg-Solomon, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., Nutritional Epidemiology Branch

James Roach, St. Olaf College
Polymorphisms in selected genetic variants and papillary thyroid cancer risk
Mentors: Alina V. Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., Ruth A. Kleinerman, M.P.H., and Alice J. Sigurdson, Ph.D. (all of REB)

Joseph Weissman, The New School of Northern Virginia
PCR validation of BRAF V600E mutation in a hairy cell leukemia pedigree
Mentors: Alexander Pemov, Ph.D., M.D., and Douglas Stewart, M.D. (both of CGB)

Yixuan (Jack) Wen, Amherst College
Identified rare variants associated with melanoma risk using exome sequencing data
Mentor: Xiaohong Rose Yang, Ph.D., M.P.H., Genetic Epidemiology Branch

Back to the November 2013 issue of DCEG Linkage