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2020 Virtual Spring Town Hall Meeting

, by DCEG Staff

Image of the powerpoint title slide for the DCEG Town Hall on May 7, 2020.

In May 2020, Director Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., welcomed staff to the Spring Town Hall meeting to talk about new developments in the Division, and to recognize accomplishments over the past six months. With the DCEG staff working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town Hall was held virtually via WebEx. In addition to updates on scientific achievements in the preceding months, he acknowledged the new normal of working remotely and invited staff to share photos of virtual branch meetings, new workspaces and coworkers (pets and children), as well as hobbies.

Dr. Chanock gave special tribute to staff who have made substantial contributions and service to the Division with the following awards.

Outstanding Mentor Award

Jill Koshiol and Mitchell Machiela

Mentoring is a core value of the Division; DCEG fellows nominate and vote for the Outstanding Mentor Award annually. This year, Jill Koshiol, Ph.D., Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Infections and Immunoepidemiology Branch, and Mitchell Machiela, Sc.D., Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Integrative Tumor Epidemiology Branch, were selected in recognition of their exceptional commitment to the growth and productivity of junior scientists. Highlights from their nominations cited the following qualities:

“Dr. Koshiol delivers feedback in a way that enhances and strengthens her fellows’ work. She allows them to take ownership of their projects and teaches them the skills they need to become independent investigators. Dr. Koshiol is truly a great mentor and a strong advocate for her fellows; a knock on her door is always met with a smile and a pleasant attitude, no matter how busy she is.”

“Dr. Machiela always takes the time to guide and teach his fellows. He is a visible and available mentor, willing to answer any technical and professional questions that his fellows have concerning their projects and future careers. Dr. Machiela is always eager to share his experience and knowledge to find the best resources and opportunities for his fellows. I have learned more from him than can ever be taught in a book or paper.”

Distinguished Scientific Service Award

Amanda Black and Megan Frone

This award recognizes a postdoctoral, predoctoral or postbaccalaureate fellow, or a staff scientist/clinician who has made significant contributions to facilitating research and creating or managing resources. Scientific activities include, but are not limited to, field work, methods development to inform field activities, and collection of data and samples.

This year’s recipients were Amanda Black, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director of biological resources in the Office of the Director, and Megan Frone, M.S., C.G.C., genetic counselor in the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB).

Dr. Black was recognized for her organizational and scientific leadership in managing the DCEG biospecimen resources management tool—Biospecimen Inventory (BSI), which stores highly critical information on 12 million biospecimens. Historically, the BSI was an underutilized resource of the Division. Over the last two years, Dr. Black carefully managed the centralization of the BSI, bringing together key users of the Division’s partner labs and services to identify and correct suboptimal data content and database usage to improve the transparency of BSI data. She worked diligently to establish and implement division-wide policies and guidelines on BSI data entry and database usage to improve broader biospecimen annotation standards and ultimately standardized its use. Her contributions enhanced the usability of the BSI for DCEG investigators, which will benefit the management and conduct of future DCEG studies.

Ms. Frone received the award in recognition of her outstanding work in CGB and service to the larger cancer genetics community. Since joining CGB in 2016, Ms. Frone has made significant contributions to how DCEG studies are conducted and how patients are counseled as well as made significant progress in taking the field of cancer genetic counseling forward. She is integral to many DCEG studies and working groups, including the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome study, the upcoming RASopathies study, the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ (NSGC) Cancer Special Interest Group, and ClinGen’s TP53 variant curation expert group and DICER1 group. Ms. Frone has made invaluable contributions by counseling the nearly 900 participants in the LFS study on a wide variety of challenges, as well as serving as an expert consultant for genetic counselor across the world on TP53-related questions. Her dedication and innate nature of going above and beyond for her colleagues, the families she serves through the NCI, and her peers in NSGC and the global genetic counselling community is truly remarkable.

Intramural Research Awards

Intramural Research Awards (IRAs) are competitive funding opportunities designed to foster creative, high-impact research by fellows and tenure-track investigators. Proposals are evaluated on their potential for significant scientific or public health impact, innovation, interdisciplinary nature, ability to achieve the objectives within the proposed time frames and with the proposed resources, and programmatic relevance to DCEG’s mission. Out of the many excellent proposals submitted, five proposals were selected:

Rotana Alsaggaf, Monica D'Arcy, Jongeun Rhee, Jason Wong, Zeni Wu

Rotana Alsaggaf, Ph.D.
“Epigenetic clocks and cellular aging in myotonic dystrophy.”

Monica D’Arcy, Ph.D.
“Helicobacter pylori infection, its treatment and colorectal cancer risk: A two-phase study leveraging treatment data from the UK Clinical Practice Database and serology information from the UK Biobank.”

Jongeun Rhee, Sc.D.
“Case-control study of early-life residential exposure to tetrachloroethylene and risks of childhood cancers.”

Jason Wong, Sc.D.
“Uncovering clues into the lung cancer-telomere length paradox: Comparing novel forms of genomic instability in pre-diagnostic blood samples among never-smokers with long and short telomeres.”

Zeni Wu, Ph.D.
“Potential role of fungi in oral oncogenesis: A case-control study in Taiwan.”

Outstanding Research Papers of 2019

Awards for DCEG Outstanding Research Papers of 2019 were given to fellows and staff scientists or staff clinicians. The DCEG Senior Advisory Group judged the competition based on the papers' impact, innovation, and clarity of thought and language.

Top: Megan Clarke, Erikka Loftfield, Parichoy Pal Choudhury, Pedro Saint-Maurice

Bottom: Sabrina Tsang, Diana Withrow, Clara Bodelon, Lene Veiga

By a Fellow

Megan Clarke, Ph.D.
“Hysterectomy-corrected uterine corpus cancer incidence trends and differences in relative survival reveal racial disparities and rising rates of nonendometrioid cancers.” J Clin Oncol.

Erikka Loftfield, Ph.D.
“Prospective investigation of serum metabolites, coffee drinking, liver cancer incidence, and liver disease mortality.” J Natl Cancer Inst.

Parichoy Pal Choudhury, Ph.D.
“Comparative validation of breast cancer risk prediction models and projections for future risk stratification.” J Natl Cancer Inst.

Pedro Saint-Maurice, Ph.D.
“Association of leisure-time physical activity across the adult life course with all-cause and cause-specific mortality.” JAMA Network Open.

Sabrina Tsang, Ph.D.
“Durability of cross-protection by different schedules of the bivalent HPV vaccine: The CVT Trial.” J Natl Cancer Inst.

Diana Withrow, Ph.D.
“Trends in mortality due to cancer in the United States by age and county-level income, 1999-2015.” J Natl Cancer Inst.

By a Staff Scientist / Staff Clinician

Clara Bodelon, Ph.D., M.S.
“Molecular classification of epithelial ovarian cancer based on methylation profiling: Evidence for survival heterogeneity.” Clin Cancer Res.

Lene Veiga, Ph.D.
“Association of breast cancer risk after childhood cancer with radiation dose to the breast and anthracycline use: A report from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.” JAMA Pediatr.
 

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