As a child, the losses of my father and grandfather were pivotal experiences that steered my interests to a career in medicine – dedicated to saving the lives of others. What fueled my focus on cancer research growing up was watching my grandfather tirelessly fight Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for over five years. As a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Graduate Training in Disparities Research Fellow, I completed my PhD in cancer biology and a graduate certificate in public health practice in the laboratory of Dr. Michele L. Cote at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Karmanos Cancer Institute in 2017. This multidisciplinary training in molecular cancer epidemiology and basic sciences bench-work has provided me with a unique translational research perspective for examining and deciphering the complexities of cancer.
I am now the Susan Cooper Jones Endowed Post-Doctoral Fellow in Cancer Research and a NIH/NHGRI T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA postdoctoral fellow in genomic medicine. Recently, I completed a Master of Science degree in clinical investigation at the University of Utah School of Medicine at Huntsman Cancer Institute, in the laboratory of Dr. Cornelia (Neli) M. Ulrich. My current research, including as a 2019 AACR NextGen Star award recipient, focuses on unraveling the molecular underpinnings (e.g., transcriptome, genome, microbiome) of young-onset colorectal cancer by leveraging data from the ColoCare Study and other international consortia. My research also deciphers how energy balance and tumor-adipose crosstalk impact cancer risk and/or outcomes, and the molecular factors underlying cancer disparities and prevention. Ultimately, my goal is to become an academic faculty member and independent investigator. My lab will seek to elucidate the underlying etiologies and molecular drivers of carcinogenesis in patients, and develop personalized prevention modalities to reduce the burden of this disease.
During my doctoral training, I engaged in science policy/advocacy at the federal level in meetings with Congressional legislators and staff during the 2016 and 2017 AACR Early-Career Hill Days. In April 2017, I was honored to serve as a panelist for the AACR Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill titled, “The Road to Cancer Survivorship,” to discuss the critical priorities and challenges today in cancer research from the perspective of an early-career investigator. At this critical inflection point for biomedical research and funding, I am humbled to be continuing my advocacy work on the AACR Associate Member Council (AMC). As a Council member, I hope to further initiatives in science policy and collaboratively build a stronger platform and voice for early-career colleagues to help propel the next generation of cancer discoveries and cures.