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Cari Kitahara Receives Van Meter Award from American Thyroid Association

Cari Kitahara holding Van Meter Award certificate.

On October 31, 2019, Cari Kitahara, Ph.D., tenure-track investigator in the Radiation Epidemiology Branch (REB), received the Van Meter Award from the American Thyroid Association (ATA) at their annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The award recognizes an investigator who has made outstanding contributions to research on the thyroid gland or related subjects. 

In her presentation, entitled, “Changing incidence of thyroid cancer: real, artifact, or both?” she reviewed the epidemiological studies documenting trends in thyroid cancer incidence and mortality, including the rapid increase in incidence of papillary thyroid cancers of all stages and sizes at diagnosis from the early-1980s and the slight increase in thyroid cancer mortality since the mid-1980s. She also explored a number of hypotheses that might explain those patterns, including over-diagnosis and detection bias resulting from improved imaging, exposure to ionizing radiation in childhood, and overweight and obesity. 

Long-time collaborator Dr. Julie Ann Sosa introduced Dr. Kitahara as “a researcher of a different phenotype from the majority of attendees.” She went on to characterize Dr. Kitahara as one of the “most innovative, rigorous, unprejudiced and courageous” investigators in her approach to research and collaboration.

Dr. Kitahara began with a tribute to her late mentor, Dr. Elaine Ron, former chief of REB and member of the Public Health Committee of the ATA. Though their mentoring relationship was cut short by Dr. Ron’s unfortunate passing in 2010, Dr. Kitahara reflected on the richness of ideas they discussed, which continue to offer new avenues of research, as evidenced by numerous examples given throughout the presentation. 

Since 1930, the Van Meter Award Lecture has recognized investigators under the age of 45 who have made outstanding contributions to research on the thyroid gland or related subjects. 

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