American Association for Cancer Research

2009 Minority Scholars


The AACR is very pleased to administer this important program which provides funds for the participation of early-career, meritorious minority scientists at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009. Scholars are chosen from both minority institutions and the larger bodies of universities, colleges, and research institutes. They are selected on the basis of their qualifications, references from mentors, and an estimation of the potential professional benefit to the awardees. 

Since its founding in 1985, the AACR Minority Scholar Awards in Cancer Research program has been supported by a generous grant of the National Cancer Institute's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. The Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) works to increase the number of underrepresented minorities participating as competitive NCI/NIH-funded cancer researchers.  The names and affiliations of the 2009 Minority Scholars supported by the CRCHD are listed below, along with the numbers and titles of their presentations, where appropriate.



Marco A. Alcala, Jr., M.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.  Abstract #5027. Near infrared maging of liver tumors targeted by lanthanide-containing PAMAM dendrimers in a rat model of colorectal metastasis.

"My goal is to complete my surgical training and to return to the University of Pittsburg to obtain a Surgical Oncology Fellowship. Once completed, to obtain an Academic Research position with the University or any other University" 



 Charvann K. Bailey, B.A., Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN.  Abstract #1495. The mechanism of SLUG-CtBP1 interactions on the E2-box of DNA in vivo.

"My research and educational goals as a cancer biology student include understanding how SLUG is regulated in breast cancer and to develop ways to inhibit its action. Inhibiting the repressor function of SLUG will decrease tumor invasion and metastasis of these cells. This knowledge will increase my understanding of one of the many molecular mechanisms that can result in breast tumor formation.

I would like to become a member of a faculty at a minority serving institution where I will be able to contribute as a teacher and a basic science researcher focusing on breast cancer.


Nora M. Barboza, Ph.D., UMDNJ Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ.  Abstract #5469. Combination of plitidepsin and rituximab is effective for treatment of rituximab resistant Non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphoma.

"My goal is to find a job in a community college where I could teach and hopefully have my own lab. There I would be able to cater young people into the field of research." 


Marcus H. Bell, B.S., UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.  Abstract #5601. Defining tumor mRNA expression signatures predicting response of lung cancers to radiation therapy.

"My career goal is to become a Radiation Oncologist. I also plan to continue to build on my career as a researcher. I hope to work towards my goal of becoming an independent investigator in an academic setting, where I can apply the expertise and knowledge I have gained to teach, mentor and guide young scientists." 






Melanie C. Bocanegra, B.S., Stanford University, Stanford, CA.  Abstract #200. Prognostic signature of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer highlights role of LYN in invasion and likely target of dasatinib.

"By conducting DNA microarray studies on breast cancer cell lines, I also expect to become skilled in a wide variety of cutting-edge experimental techniques that will prove invaluable to my future as a scientist.

I will maximize my potential, complete my Ph.D., and serve as an example to the community after graduation. I hope to become a professor at a small institution to encourage and assist students interested in pursuing science and research careers. I would also like to continue outreach at the high school and junior high school level by working with institutions like Stanford University to promote diversity by developing summer research programs that challenge young students to achieve at the highest level."



Burthia E.Booker, B.S., Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN.  Abstract #1517.  Mutational characterization of the C-terminal zinc finger of human SNAIL protein.

"My career goal is contribute to the fight against breast and ovarian cancers as a researcher under the umbrellas of molecular biology and genetics.  I want to couple my research with instruction to medical professionals on diagnosis, advancements in treatment options, and the cure."


Liselle C. Bovell, B.S., University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL.  Abstract #549. MicroRNA profiles of colorectal adenocarcinomas - racial disparity.

"My goals include performing research to obtain a Ph.D. degree, developing skills in designing and executing experiments, developing skills in interpreting data, and dissipating my findings through publications. My main career objective is do cancer research geared towards prevention or better prognosis of patients with an emphasis on ethnic variances."





Paul M. Campbell, Ph.D., H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL.  Abstract #1089. Activated K-Ras expression in human pancreatic epithelial cells promotes chemokine secretion and angiogenesis through MAP kinase signaling. 

"Because invasion and metastasis are the greatest causes of mortality in cancer, I am interested in uncovering therapeutic targets for this pathology. I recently started a research faculty position at the Moffitt Cancer Center to dovetail my expertise in cancer cell signal transduction with target-based drug discovery in a clinical-translational institute. This research training, together with training in mentorship, and in manuscript and grant writing, will ensure that I am proficient in the skills needed to transition to an academic tenure-track position." 


Candace E. Carroll, B.S., University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.  Abstract # 4069. HIF-1α is required for both progestin-induced VEGF secretion by breast cancer cells and in vivo progression of progestin-dependent mammary tumors.

"After completing my Ph.D. training, I plan to enter a post-doctoral position with teaching responsibilities with the goal of becoming a faculty member at a minority-serving institution. My overall goal is to expose minority students to the field of biomedical research with the intention of influencing them to consider a career in scientific research." 


Charisa L. Cottonham, B.S., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.  Abstract #5315.  MicroRNAs in TGF-β Signaling.

"Upon completion of my Ph.D. studies, I plan to pursue a career in academic research. I aim to conduct cutting-edge research to advance knowledge of cancer etiology. I also desire to implement a research collaborative with inner-city high schools so that I can put biomedical research within the reach of urban youth." 


Mohammad Daremipouran, M.S., Howard University Cancer Center, Washington, DC.  Abstract #4856. Vitamin D and prostate cancer in African-Americans.

"I would like to continue in this field as my career and extend my research in prostate cancer epigenetics DNA modification, expression analysis, miRNA profile, and chromosomal aberration. Further, I would like to deliver my knowledge and experience to the following minor generations by taking an educational position in a minority institution like Howard University."









Ahmara V. Gibbons, B.S., Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.  Abstract #3523. The intestinal tumor susceptibility gene product GUCY2C coordinates epithelial-mesenchymal interactions opposing the tumorigenic stromal niche through TGF-β1.

"I am currently a 6th year M.D.-Ph.D. student (2 years preclinical training in medical school, 4 years doctoral training in graduate school) completing the graduate phase of my program. After completing the clinical portion of medical school (2 years), I will pursue a research residency program at a top-ranked academic medical center in an oncology-related discipline. This is essential to advance my career in translational cancer research. It is my goal to find a training program and post -graduate mentor that will foster my enthusiasm for academia, allowing me to solidify and generate a track record of productivity in the form of publications and grant applications, pursing peer-reviewed funding opportunities. After completing residency, I plan to pursue a fellowship in a sub-specialty focus in oncology that integrates patient care and laboratory-based investigation to maintain research productivity. After completing fellowship training, I will pursue a faculty position in oncology centered in translational research and patient care, integrating my M.D. and Ph.D. training, to bring bench top research to the beside for the benefit of patients."


Jose R. Gomez-Garcia, B.S., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Abstract #1875.  s-induced autophagic self-destruction of immortalized human cells: The second innate defense line against cancer

"My personal career goal is to combine my training in caner biology with my interest to contribute for the betterment of health care to become a future university research professor. My graduate career will be focused on research in autophagy as a mechanism of defense against development of cancer.





Deacqunita L. Harris, B.S., Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN.  Abstract #2026. Potentiating effect of dietary fat on benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)-DNA adduct concentrations and colon adenomas in ApcMin mice.

"My first long-range education goal is to complete my doctoral degree. Upon completion of this degree I plan on continuing in the filed of cancer research and toxicology in post-doctoral training in a lab focusing on cancer progression in minority population exposed to environmental carcinogens. My career objective is to merge into public awareness of environmental carcinogens in minority populations." 




Efe W. Iyamu, M.D., Ph.D., Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO.  Abstract #3529. Oxidant-mediated thiol modification of arginase 1 in erythroleukemic cells is sufficient for its intracellular activation.

"My career objective is to be active in cancer and sickle cell disease research/patient care. In this regard, I plan to be involved in academic medicine where I plan to focus on research relevant to chemoprevention, basic/translational research, and patient care." 



Troy A. McEachron, B.S., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.  Abstract #2518. The role of tissue factor-factor VIIa-protease activated receptor 2 signaling in breast tumor progression.

"My career goal is to become an independent investigator at a research institution focused on both graduate and undergraduate education/research where I will continue my basic science research in tumor biology in addition to mentoring students. I plan to tailor my mentorship to enriching the research and academic experiences of graduate and undergraduate students, with an emphasis on under-represented minority students."   

Paula L. Miliani de Marval, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.  Abstract #308. Epidermal-specific expression of a CYLD mutant leads to increased sensitivity to skin carcinogenesis and metastasis.

"My overall career goal is to become an independent investigator and be able to mentor young students. During my training in Dr. Zhang's lab I hope to develop a strong expertise in human skin biology." 



LaSharon Denise Mosley, M.S., University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.  Abstract #1252. CXCL11 and CXCL12 modulates matrix metalloproteinase expression by breast cancer cells predominately through CXCR7 interactions.

"My short-term goal is to obtain my Ph.D. from the University of Louisville in Pharmacology and Toxicology. My long-term is to have a career in academic cancer research and promote and have an active role in the improvement of women's (especially minority) healthcare, education and awareness concerning various diseases."   


Leticia M. Nogueira, B.S., University of Texas, Austin, TX.  Abstract #4820. Differential expression of tumor-related genes in the most recommended obesity reversal strategies (calorie restriction and exercise).

"My goal is to follow an academic career in breast cancer research. In particular, I wish to make contributions towards our understanding of how lifestyle choices, such as diet and physical activity, impact the effectiveness of breast cancer therapy and reduce breast cancer risk." 







Nilsa Rivera-Del Valle, M.S., UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.  Abstract #4548. PCI-24781, a novel hydroxamic acid HDAC inhibitor, induces apoptosis and histone acetylation in a caspase-8 dependent manner in leukemia cells.

"My short term professional goal is to complete a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology and return to NIH as a post-doctoral fellow. As a post-doctoral fellow I want to gain more experience as an independent scientist. My long term goals are to conduct translational research where I can combine my experience in the area of minority population research with biochemical and molecular training I will receive as a doctoral student. Also I want to assist aspiring young students, especially minority student, who have similar ambitions in the area of scientific research. I would like to return to Puerto Rico and act as a leader helping to develop new programs to advance biomedical research and education in Puerto Rico as well as the Caribbean."   


Mariangellys Rodriguez, B.S., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.  Abstract #4404. Possible role of insulin-like growth factor I in breast cancer proliferation via the CYP1A1 epoxygenase pathway.

"It is my goal to complete a Ph.D. degree in cancer biology. After I graduate, I plan to work in translational cancer research, preferably, in an international/global context."   




Gabriel J. Villares, B.S., UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.  Abstract #1187. PAR-1 negatively regulates the tumor suppressor Maspin in human melanoma.

"After completing my Ph.D., I plan to enroll in a postdoctoral research program in an academic institution. This will allow me to be an independent researcher and pursue my goal of contributing to the understanding of cancer and the pursuit for better therapies. I would also like to have an opportunity to teach at the undergraduate or graduate level in the field of cancer biology both in the classroom and in the lab and thereby inspire and influence future scientists."   


Pablo E. Vivas-Mejía, Ph.D., UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX.  Abstract #2785. Targeting survivin in taxane-resistant ovarian cancer using liposomal siRNA.

"I plan to complete my formal postdoctoral training here at UT M.D. Anderson with Dr. Lopez-Berestein, and then I want to establish myself as an independent researcher in the Puerto Rico Cancer Center. I also want to help better understand the cancer disparities between different ethnic groups."


Carmen N. West-Wright, M.S., USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA.  Abstract #85. Long-term physical activity and survival after breast cancer: The California Teacher's Study.

"Upon completion of my doctorate in Epidemiology I plan to pursue a post-doctorate fellowship award to continue my training in cancer epidemiology. Upon completion of the fellowship I plan to pursue a position in academia as a cancer epidemiologist focusing on African-American and Native-American research." 


Shanté P. Williams, B.S., Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.  Abstract #2235. Indirubins potently block glioma cell migration through inhibition of GSK-3.

"My long range goals include completing post doctoral training in clinical pharmacology with an emphasis on gynecological cancers. After completion of my post doctoral training I would like to pursue a career in drug regulation."