A. William Blackstock, M.D.
Blackstock, a radiation oncologist, is also a clinical trial investigator in lung, pancreatic, esophageal and rectal cancers. He serves as principal investigator of multiple national and international clinical trials in these cancers. He has considerable experience as a translational clinical scientist, and continues to maintain an active laboratory with National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. He serves on the executive committee for Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), a national clinical research group sponsored by NCI. He reviews grants for the NCI Clinical Oncology study section, American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. He also serves on the editorial board for the American Journal of Clinical Oncology.
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Wayne D. Bowen, Ph.D.
Wayne Bowen is a nationally recognized leader in research on sigma receptors—proteins in the brain and in tissues like the liver and kidney that are believed to regulate cell survival and growth. His major areas of interest include biochemical mechanisms involved in the neuronal action of opiate drugs, and the biochemistry of sigma receptors in cancer cells and in the brain.
Bowen received his B.S. in chemistry from Morgan State College in 1974, and completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry and neurobiology at Cornell University in 1981. He then spent three years as a postdoctoral staff fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where he studied opiate receptor biochemistry. He initially came to Brown University in 1983 when he taught endocrinology, introductory biology and biochemistry and founded the macromolecular biochemistry facility—a one-man lab that supplied synthetic peptides to scientists throughout the campus and affiliated hospitals.
In 1991, Bowen returned to the NIH to take a position at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, where he became chief of the unit on receptor biochemistry and pharmacology in the drug design and synthesis section of the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry. He also served as president of the NIH Black Scientists Association in 2001.
In 2004, Bowen returned permanently to the Brown faculty as professor of biology in the department of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology in the Division of Biology and Medicine. He co-directs the medical school's pharmacology course and teaches in the endocrinology and neuroscience courses to undergraduates.
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Malcolm V. Brock, M.D.
Malcolm V. Brock, M.D., a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins General Surgical residency program and the Johns Hopkins fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery, is a specialist in thoracic oncology, and is an associate professor of surgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins. In additional to clinical thoracic oncology, his clinical interests include surgery for palmar, axillary and pedal hyperhydrosis.
Board-certified in general as well as thoracic surgery, Dr. Brock is a surgeon who conducts cancer research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins specializing in bringing innovative basic, bench-top research to the clinic and to the bedside. His main research interests are in developing novel molecular biomarkers for solid tumors that can help clinicians diagnose cancer earlier and treat it more effectively. Recently, his laboratory utilized a basic research DNA technique in the clinic to predict patients who will develop recurrent lung cancer even after successful surgery, and to predict patients with esophageal cancer who will be sensitive to certain chemotherapeutic drugs. This work was recently recognized for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Brock has published over 70 original research papers, book chapters and review articles, has presented often at national and international conferences, and has been the recipient of research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research Excellence, the American College of Surgery Oncology Group as well as the Society of Surgical Oncology.
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Marcia Cruz-Correa, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Marcia Cruz-Correa completed her BS in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), and her medical degree at the UPR Medical School. Dr. Cruz-Correa continued her training in Internal Medicine at the University of Puerto Rico Hospital, and subsequently a fellowship in Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Dr. Cruz-Correa completed a doctorate degree in Clinical Investigation and Genetic Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dr. Cruz-Correa is an Associate Professor of Medicine & Biochemistry at the University of Puerto Rico, Visiting Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. She serves as the Assistant Director of the RCMI Clinical Research Center at the UPR, and is Director of the GI Oncology Program at the UPR Cancer Center.
Her research interests are in the area of gastrointestinal oncology, including the study of epigenetics and genetics in gastrointestinal cancer, hereditary GI cancers, and chemoprevention of gastrointestinal neoplasia. Dr. Cruz-Correa leads a Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at the UPR Cancer Center, which is integrated by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, basic and clinical scientists, and epidemiologists with an expertise in gastrointestinal cancer. The main focus of the GI Oncology Program is to elucidate genetic and epigenetic pathways for colorectal carcinogenesis among Hispanic patients. Evaluation of environmental and nutritional factors as effect-modifiers and gene-environmental interactions is an active investigative priority. Dr. Cruz-Correa and her team developed the first population-based familial colorectal cancer registry in Puerto Rico that currently has over 500 colorectal cancer patients with detailed epidemiological and environmental information.
A second research area is chemoprevention, and Dr. Cruz-Correa leads an NCI-sponsored clinical trial evaluating the role of bioflavinoids (curcumin) as a chemopreventive agent in adult patients with Familial Adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and is a co-investigator evaluating the use of celecoxib in pediatric patients with FAP. In addition, her group is a member of the Polyp Prevention Study Group (11-site national consortia, led by Dr. John Baron, Dartmouth University) participating in several clinical trials aimed at evaluating different compounds for chemoprevention of sporadic colorectal adenomas. Dr. Cruz-Correa’s research is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and other private foundations including Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Cancer Research Prevention Foundation.
Dr. Cruz-Correa has published over 50 original publications, is a reviewer of several NCI special review panels, and reviewer for numerous medical journals including Gastroenterology, Cancer Research, and GUT. She is actively involved as a chair or committee member in several national gastroenterology societies, including the American Gastroenterology Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy and is President of the Puerto Rico Gastroenterology Association.
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Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Levi Garraway is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Garraway is also a faculty member of Dana-Farber's Center for Cancer Genome Discovery and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute, where he is co-Director of Cancer Genome Analysis in the Broad Cancer Program.
Dr. Garraway received his A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College in 1990, and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard Medical School in 1999. Thereafter, he completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also served as Medical Chief Resident in 2003. He received fellowship training in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Garraway leads a 16-member investigative team in cancer genomics at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute.
Dr. Garraway has been the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Minority Scholar Award from the American Association of Cancer Research, the Partners in Excellence Award from the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences from the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund. In the fall of 2007, Dr. Garraway was awarded one of the first prestigious New Innovator Awards from the National Institutes of Health, worth $1.5 million over five years. The Innovator Awards were given to the top 29 scientists from over 2200 applicants nationwide. In 2009, Dr. Garraway was inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation.
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Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D.
Dr. Halbert received her doctorate in personality psychology from Howard University in 1997. In addition to her doctoral training, Dr. Halbert completed pre- and postdoctoral training at the Lombardi Cancer Center. In 1995, she received a predoctoral supplemental award from the National Institutes of Mental Health to evaluate psychosocial and sociocultural influences on family communication about genetic testing and in 1997 she received a postdoctoral supplemental award from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate the process and content of family communication about genetic testing following disclosure of BRCA1 and BRCA2 test results.
Dr. Halbert’s research focuses on understanding the sociocultural underpinnings of cancer prevention and control behaviors among ethnically diverse populations and translating this knowledge into interventions designed to reduce ethnic and racial differences in cancer morbidity and mortality. She is Director of the Community Cancer Prevention and Control Initiative at the Abramson Cancer Center and is Principal Investigator of a randomized trial funded by the Department of Defense to develop and evaluate a culturally tailored genetic counseling protocol for African American women. A secondary aim of this study is to identify African American women who are most and least likely to benefit from CTGC vs. SGC.
Dr. Halbert is also co-principal investigator for the Penn Center for Population Health and Health Disparities that is funded by the National Cancer Institute. The objectives of this center are to (1) study the interaction between biological, clinical, behavioral and environmental factors predictive of outcomes following a prostate cancer diagnosis; (2) evaluate the contribution of these factors to ethnic disparities in prostate cancer outcomes; and (3) disseminate this information to at-risk populations and the public health community. Dr. Halbert is also director of the Community Outreach and Dissemination Core and is principal investigator for Project #4, Determinants of Ethnic Differences in Quality of Life, within the Penn Center for Population Health.
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Rick A. Kittles, Ph.D.
Rick Kittles received a B.S. in Biology from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989 and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from George Washington University in 1998. He then went to Howard University where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University. As co-director of Molecular Genetics he directed large-scale, high throughput genotyping and DNA sequencing projects. From 1997 to 2004, Kittles helped establish and coordinate a national cooperative network to study the genetics of hereditary prostate cancer in the African American community. This project, called the AAHPC study network, successfully recruited over 100 multiplex African American hereditary prostate cancer families and serves as a model for recruitment of African Americans in genetic studies of complex diseases.
Genes may play a strong role but epidemiological studies suggest that prostate cancer risk is largely determined by gene and environmental interactions. Increased attention has focused on Vitamin D3 and prostate cancer risk, because of its influence on prostate cell division and inhibition of proliferation. However, the metabolism and physiological actions of the vitamin vary and are modified by genetic and environmental factors such as ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure, skin color, diet and genes involved in Vitamin D synthesis, metabolism and action. We are currently studying modifiers of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels in order to improve our understanding of the role Vitamin D plays on prostate cancer susceptibility in African Americans. It is likely that this work will contribute to better treatment options and more focused prevention strategies.
Kittles is well known for his research of prostate cancer and health disparities among African Americans. He has also been at the forefront of the development of ancestry-informative genetic markers, and how genetic ancestry can be used to map genes for common traits and disease. Kittles work in 2002 on CYP3A4 genetic variants and prostate cancer risk was the first to show that population stratification due to admixture could be a major problem in genetic association studies of AAs. Kittles’ lab has worked extensively on the use of genetic markers to estimate ancestry among African Americans. They have identified and developed several panels of autosomal SNP markers which can be used to extract continental ancestry information in African Americans. The ancestry estimates using these AIMs allow for the detection of population structure, identification of outlier individuals with extremely high European ancestries in our AA cohorts, and/or to utilize the individual ancestry estimates as additional covariates in the association analyses.
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Christopher I. Li, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Li is an Associate Member in the Division of Public Health Sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. He received his MD from the University of California, San Francisco and his PhD in epidemiology at the University of Washington. His research interests are principally in the field of breast cancer and understanding factors related to its etiology and outcomes using a multidisciplinary approach. Currently he is working on projects aimed at identifying novel biomarkers that could be used for the early detection of breast cancer, evaluating risk factors for different types of breast cancer, identifying predictors of poor outcomes among breast cancer survivors, and assessing disparities in cancer stage, treatment, and survival by race/ethnicity.
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Rena J. Pasick, Dr.P.H.
Dr. Pasick is Professor of Medicine, Associate Director, Community Education & Outreach, and Co-Leader, Society, Diversity & Disparities Research with the University of California, San Franciso, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Trained in public health with a Dr.P.H. from UC Berkeley, Dr. Pasick’s expertise is in health communication and health promotion across cultures. She has spent the past 20 years conducting research on cancer disparities in the diverse and underserved communities of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dr. Pasick’s completed studies include an NCI program project, Cancer Screening, Managed Care and the Underserved, and NCI RO1 studies: Cross-Cultural Communication in Colorectal Cancer Screening (CRC – to aid communication between clinicians and African American, Chinese, and Latino patients on colorectal screening), Behavioral Constructs and Culture in Cancer Screening (3Cs – to test the cultural appropriateness of five major behavioral theory constructs), and Interactive Outreach: CIS-Link to the Underserved (to connect public hospital cancer patients with the Cancer Information Service). Her current research is Statewide Communication to Reach Diverse Low Income Women, a study to identify English and Spanish-speaking women at risk for hereditary breast cancer or Asian women who may be at risk for Hepatitis B among callers to the California breast and cervical screening program.
In 2005, Dr. Pasick’s Community Outreach program established a very active Faith Communities initiative that fosters new health ministries in African American churches and disseminates evidence-based interventions such as Body & Soul in that setting. Most recently, this group has taken up the challenge of improving prostate cancer outcomes in their community.
Dr. Pasick regards her most significant contribution as the establishment of the Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research (MTPCCR), designed to encourage master’s level students and master’s trained professionals to go on for their doctoral degrees and to pursue careers in cancer control research. The MTPCCR has been funded continuously since 1998 by NCI - R25 training grants. The second grant established a replication at UCLA, and both programs combined have recruited 416 participants, 86 of whom (20 percent) have gone on to the doctorate. The majority report that the MTPCCR was a strong influence on their plans, and half are working in cancer-related research.
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Edith A. Perez, M.D.
Edith A. Perez, M.D., is a cancer specialist and internationally known researcher at Mayo Clinic. She is a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School and has various member and leadership roles at Mayo Clinic, including director of the Breast Program. Additionally, she is the chair of the Cancer Clinical Study Unit at Mayo Clinic Florida. Her roles extend nationally; including chairing the Breast Committee for the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, as well as other positions within the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology and National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Perez has developed and is involved in a wide range of clinical trials exploring the use of new therapeutic agents for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. She also has developed studies to evaluate the role of genetic markers in the development and aggressiveness of breast cancer.
Dr. Perez is a recipient of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation Research Grant Award (1998-2010); the Horizon Achievement Award in Cancer Research (2002); the North Florida Hispanic of the Year Award (2003); the Mayo Clinic Outstanding Faculty Award (2002 and 2004); the Mayo Clinic Distinguished Educator Award (2003); the named Serene M. and Frances C. Durling Professorship of Medicine (2006); Honorary Doctorate of Letters, University of North Florida (2006); Mayo Clinic Distinguished Investigator (2007); the Florida State Biomedical Research Advisory Council [BRAC] (2009-2012) and member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (2009).
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Sanya Springfield, Ph.D.
Sanya A. Springfield, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Springfield is responsible for overseeing CRCHD's mission to coordinate and strengthen the NCI's cancer research portfolio in basic, clinical, translational and population-based research to address cancer health disparities and leading NCI's efforts in the training of students and investigators from diverse populations that will be part of the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research; and create state-of-the-art regional networks/centers dedicated to cancer health disparities research and care through geographic program management.
Previously, Dr. Springfield was Chief of the current NCI Diversity Training Branch (DTB), where she developed and oversaw two highly successful diversity training and partnership research programs, the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) and Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership (MI/CCP). CURE seeks to increase the number of competitive minority researchers involved in cancer research, while MI/CCP aims to build the competitive research infrastructure and capacity of minority-serving institutions in partnership with NCI Cancer Centers. Both programs direct long-term funding for parties interested in cancer research-related careers and programs addressing cancer health disparities. Dr. Springfield was also a faculty member at City College of the City University of New York (CCNY), where she directed a teaching and research program aimed at increasing awareness of biomedical research to minority undergraduate students.
Dr. Springfield received her Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She was awarded a National Research Service Award (F32) for postdoctoral studies in the Department of Pharmacology at the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine in Piscataway, New Jersey. Dr. Springfield served as a Program Director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Integrative Biology and Neurosciences. She also serves as an advisor to a number of committees aimed at finding effective ways to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities in biomedical research.
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Miguel Villalona-Calero, M.D.
Dr. Villalona-Calero is a medical oncologist, lung cancer specialist, and an expert in drug development at the Ohio State University (OSU) Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Villalona-Calero’s current academic appointments are professor of the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health. He is also the director of the Solid Tumor Experimental Therapeutics program for OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-medical director of the Clinical Research Unit at the Arthur James Cancer Hospital.
Dr. Villalona-Calero received his medical degree (magna cum laude) from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Urena (U.N.P.H.U.), in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He completed his internship and residency at the State University of New York Health Sciences Center, and Medical Oncology fellowships at the University of Minnesota Hospital & Clinics and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He was further trained in the drug development field in the Institute for Drug Development, University of Texas Health Sciences Center and in Health Policy Leadership from New York University.
Dr. Villalona’s most significant contribution is translating his and others laboratory observations into cancer therapy. His unique education background combining medicine, oncology, drug development, pharmacology and health policy leadership, as well as his devotion and compassion to advocate cancer and take care of cancer patients, make Dr. Villalona-Calero a true bench to bedside translational researcher.
Recognition of his work by his peers has led to more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in journals with moderate to high impact factor, 150 abstracts, membership in three journal editorial boards, three NCI-supported R21 grants, a V Foundation/AACR Translational Cancer Research Award, an N01 clinical trials contract with the NCI (all as principal investigator), two ARRA supplements from the NCI, and numerous investigator-initiated clinical trials with pharmaceutical companies support. His abilities as reviewer and mentor has led to membership or faculty status in study sections (NCI/C-ONC, ASCO/AACR Vail Workshop in Clinical Research, NCI Investigational Drug Steering Committee, AACR 2009 annual meeting co-chair), as well as, primary mentor in two K awards and faculty in two T-32s and a K-12 grant.
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