In This Section

Navigating the Path to a Successful Career in Cancer Research

Acadia Room, New Orleans Marriott

Monday, April 11, 7 – 9 p.m. CST

Organized in collaboration with the Associate Membership Council (AMC), Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, Science Education and Career Advancement Committee and Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council, this session is designed to assist with the professional and career development of investigators at all career levels. The session will consist of informal small-group conversations at roundtables with representatives from varying roles in the academic, industry, and government sectors. Participants will have the opportunity to informally speak with a roundtable mentor about his/her experiences, successes, and lessons learned that have helped establish the mentor’s career path. 

Did you participate in this Professional Advancement Session during the AACR Annual Meeting? If so, don’t forget to complete the session evaluation and share your feedback with us! Your input will help us shape additional professional development-related sessions and programming. Share your feedback!

overview

Session Co-Chairs:

Oliver Bogler, PhD, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 

Beverly D. Lyn-Cook, FDA-NCTR, Jefferson, Arkansas

Brian M. Rivers, PhD, MPH, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia  

This professional advancement session provides students, postdoctoral candidates, and junior faculty the opportunity to discuss important career development issues and survival skills with senior establish scientists. The session will be broken up into two rounds with approximately 10 participants per table informally speaking with a roundtable mentor. After the first round is complete, participants can choose to remain with their current roundtable mentor or meet with a different mentor for additional networking opportunities. 

We would encourage you to take advantage of this exclusive opportunity for one-on-one time with leaders in the cancer research field by attending this session during the Annual Meeting. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our staff at [email protected].   

2022 Participating Senior Scientists

A. William Blackstock, MD

A. William Blackstock, MD

Professor and Chair, Radiation Oncology Department

Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Winston Salem, North Carolina

Putting Yourself on the Map: Strategies to Increase Your Visibility and Expand the Impact of your Research

A. William Blackstock, MD, is professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Wake Forest University (WFU) School of Medicine and director of the Clinical Research Program at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. He received his undergraduate degree from WFU and his medical degree from the East Caroline University Brody School of Medicine. He completed a residency in radiation oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a three-year NCI-funded fellowship in translational radiation oncology. He has been chair at Wake Forest since the fall of 2008.

“I was very fortunate to have had a wonderful mentor who was committed to helping me navigate the complex path and challenges towards achieving a successful academic career in oncology.”

Keywords: radiation modifiers, phase I trials, and disparities in cancer care

Oliver Bogler, PhD

Oliver Bogler, PhD

Director, Center for Cancer Training

National Cancer Institute

Bethesda, Maryland

How NCI Supports Cancer Researchers in Training and in the Early Phase of Their Independent Careers

Oliver studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, completed his PhD at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in London and did post-docs at the Salk Institute, and the Ludwig Institute, San Diego. He was on faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, Henry Ford Hospital and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he also served as director of basic research for the Brain Tumor Center. His work focused on EGFR signaling and novel platinum compounds in glioblastoma. In 2010, he became MD Anderson’s vice president for global academic programs and fostered cancer research and training across the globe. In 2011, he was also appointed senior vice president for academic affairs, stewarded MD Anderson’s education mission and oversaw 300 people who supported 1,700 faculty and more than 2,000 trainees. In 2018, he became COO at the ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico. In 2020, he joined the NCI as director of the Center for Cancer Training.

“Be open to opportunities to engage on important topics and areas, as your career may make interesting turns that allow you to bring value beyond what you initially set out to do.”

Keywords: career development, training, education

Wayne D. Bowen, PhD

Wayne D. Bowen, PhD

Upjohn Professor of Pharmacology, Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience,

Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island

How to Set Up a Lab and Management of Resources and Personnel

Dr. Wayne Bowen earned his BS in chemistry from Morgan State College in 1974, and his PhD in biochemistry and neurobiology at Cornell University in 1981. After postdoctoral studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), he earned his BS in chemistry from Morgan State College in 1974, and his PhD in biochemistry and neurobiology at Cornell University in 1981. After postdoctoral studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), he moved to Brown University in 1983, as assistant professor of biology in the Section of Biochemistry where he taught and conducted research on opioid and sigma receptors in the brain. He moved back to the NIH in 1991 to establish the Unit on Receptor Biochemistry and Pharmacology within the Laboratory of Medicinal Chemistry of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). He returned to Brown University in 2004 to take a position as professor of biology in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology in the Division of Biology and Medicine. In 2007, he assumed the position as department chair and was named Upjohn professor of pharmacology in 2008. He moved to the Department of Neuroscience in 2021.  Dr. Bowen is a nationally recognized leader in research on sigma receptors; membrane proteins found in tissues throughout the body and that are highly upregulated in cancer cells. He is credited with the discovery of the sigma-2 receptor and subdividing the system into sigma-1 and sigma-2 subtypes. He demonstrated that sigma-2 receptor ligands induce apoptotic cell death or alter cellular metabolism, suggesting a role for the system in cell survival. Dr. Bowen has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles on topics related to sigma and opioid receptors. This research has been funded by NIDA, NINDS, NIDDK, NIGMS, the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, a Salomon Award from Brown University, and the Upjohn Professorship in Pharmacology. 

“Work hard, give your best, and don’t be afraid to fail.”

Keywords: sigma receptors, drug discovery, signal transduction, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry

JOHN CARETHERS, MD

JOHN CARETHERS, MD

Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine 

University of Michigan 

Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Physician-scientists: Leveraging Your Training and Carving Out Your Niche/The Physician-Scientist

I am a trained gastroenterologist and physician-scientist. I see patients that are high risk for colorectal cancer, and teach medical students, research students, residents and fellows. My research has focused on the genetics of colorectal cancer, particularly DNA mismatch repair. My current projects explore the linkage of inflammation and inactivation of DNA mismatch repair. I also study cancer disparities. 

“Develop a focus that can be uniquely you over time. Luck favors those who can be recognized for their hard work and successes.”

Mariam Eljanne, PhD

Mariam Eljanne, PhD

Program Director, Center for Cancer Training

National Cancer Institute

Rockville, Maryland

Getting the grant: Training Grants

Dr. Eljanne earned a MS in microbial genetics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a PhD in Human Genetics from the University of Pittsburgh. She has broad expertise in basic sciences and clinical research. After earning her master’s degree, Dr. Eljanne managed the molecular diagnostics laboratory for infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She then joined the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh where she worked on gene therapy, stem cell research, and genomic imprinting. Dr. Eljanne studied the methylation pattern of DNA in the mouse. After earning her PhD, she joined Cytyc Corporation where she worked on breast and cervical cancer diagnostic assay development. In 2004 she moved to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as a senior research associate where she worked on prostate cancer diagnostic assay development. In 2008, Dr. Eljanne joined the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Lupus Center as a research program manager where she managed several industry-sponsored lupus clinical trials. In 2009 Dr. Eljanne joined the NIH as a program director where she is currently managing training grants including F32, F99/K00, R25, and UE5 in the Center for Cancer Training at the National Cancer Institute.

“Hard work pays off but with collaborations and networking you can learn from other people’s experience and advance your career much better and faster.”

Keywords: molecular genetics, molecular diagnostics, clinical trials, NIH grant system

Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD

Vice Chair for Research and Professor, Department of Population and Public Health Sciences

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

The Peer-Review Process for Journals:  What to Expect and How to  Respond to Feedback for Publishing 

The goal of Dr. Hughes-Halbert’s research program is to identify multilevel determinants of minority health and cancer health disparities and to translate this information into sustainable interventions in clinic and community-based settings to improve cancer outcomes and chronic disease management in diverse populations in local and regional geographic areas. Dr. Hughes-Halbert is a nationally recognized expert in cancer prevention and control among diverse populations and her research is supported by numerous grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Veteran’s Affairs Medicine Center. Previously, she was a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors at the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute Advisory Council. Dr. Hughes-Halbert is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“Be true to yourself and your capacity, interests, and passion!”

Keywords: cancer health disparities, health promotion, disease prevention, multilevel interventions

Christine M. Lovly, MD, PhD

Christine M. Lovly, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology,

Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research

Co-leader, Translational Research and Interventional Oncology Program

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center

Nashville, Tennessee

Careers in Cancer: Academia/Cancer Center

Christine M. Lovly, MD, PhD, is currently an associate professor of medicine with tenure at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. She received a BA in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University followed by MD and PhD degrees as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She then completed internal medicine residency and medical oncology subspecialty training at Vanderbilt University. During her final year of fellowship, she was the Jim and Carol O’Hare chief fellow. She started on faculty at Vanderbilt in July 2013 as a physician-scientist, splitting her time between clinical care and laboratory research. Her laboratory research is directed at understanding and developing improved therapeutic strategies for specific clinically relevant molecular subsets of cancer.

Dr. Lovly has received grant funding from NIH/NCI, Uniting Against Lung Cancer, the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Sarcoma Foundation of America, the American Cancer Society, the Damon Runyon foundation, the LUNGevity foundation, the V Foundation, the American Association for Cancer Research, and Lung Cancer Foundation of America / International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. She is an active member in the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). She is co-editor-in-chief for the website www.mycancergenome.org, a Vanderbilt initiated, freely available website which aims to provide health care practitioners, patient, and advocates with up-to-date information regarding genetically informed cancer medicine. Dr. Lovly is also an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and serves on the editorial board for Cancer Discovery. She serves on the scientific leadership boards for the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer Research (where she also serves as SLB director), the LUNGevity Foundation, and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. In 2021, she was awarded the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group Young Investigator Award.

Beverly D. Lyn-Cook, PhD

Beverly D. Lyn-Cook, PhD

Senior Research Biologist

FDA-NCTR (National Center for Toxicological Research)

Jefferson, Arkansas

Careers in Cancer: Government – NIH

Dr. Lyn-Cook is a senior research scientist in the Division of Biochemical Toxicology. Currently, she serves as the coordinator of the Women’s Health Research Program at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR), a national laboratory of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) located in Jefferson, Arizona. Prior to her arrival at the FDA in 1988, Dr. Lyn-Cook was a research associate professor at the Lineberger Cancer Research Center, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1984-1988).

Prior to her work at the cancer center, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry (neurochemistry) University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill from 1981 to 1984. She received her BS degree from Fort Valley State College in 1977. Dr. Lyn-Cook received her master’s degree in 1979 and doctoral degrees in biology from Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1981. Her research interests include cancer research, with a focus on pancreatic and breast cancer; sex differences in drug response, lupus and regulatory science. Dr. Lyn-Cook has been a member of the American Association for Cancer Research for over 20 years, where she has served on numerous committees of the MICR council. Currently, she serves as first vice-president of the Bluff Chapter of the Federally Employed Women (FEW) organization. She has served in the past as Region VI (Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana) president of Blacks in Government (BIG) and on its National Board of Directors. She was instrumental in establishing the Arkansas School for Math and Science in Hot Springs, Arizona, where she was first appointed by Governor Clinton on its Advisory Board and later appointed by Governor Tucker to serve on its first Board of Trustees. She was appointed by Governor Beebe to the Arkansas Science and Technology Board for two terms, which she chaired in 2012 and was recently appointed by Governor Beebe to the Bioscience Institute Board. She currently serves as NCTR’s liaison to the FDA, Office of Women Health. She is a member of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) STEM External Advisory Board and an adjunct faculty member in the Toxicology Department at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has presented at numerous national and international meetings and published in numerous scientific journals. 

Dr. Lyn-Cook is very active in the community and other outreach activities. At her church, Hunter United Methodist, she serves as the president of the United Methodist Women, chairperson of the Education Committee and as a member of the Finance Committee.

Maeve Mullooly, PhD, MPH

Maeve Mullooly, PhD, MPH

Senior Research Fellow and HRB Emerging Investigator

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Career Objectives and Survival Skills-Graduate Students

My research interests span across the cancer control continuum and includes translational research from primary Dr. Maeve Mullooly is a Senior Research Fellow in the Epidemiology and Modelling Research Group (EMeRGe) within the Division of Population Health Sciences at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). Prior to joining the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, she participated in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Programme within the Ireland-National Cancer Institute Cancer Consortium, a programme designed to enhance postdoctoral training and develop collaborations across all aspects of cancer prevention research. During this time she conducted research within the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute. Dr Mullooly also holds a Masters in Public Health and PhD in Translational Medicine from University College Dublin. Dr. Mullooly is a recipient of the distinguished Health Research Board (HRB) in Ireland, Emerging Investigator Award. Dr. Mullooly’s research focuses primarily on understanding the role of risk factors for breast cancer, how they influence tumour development and heterogeneity within breast malignancies and how they can be used to identify women at highest risk of breast cancer to enhance prevention opportunities.

Folakemi T. Odedina, PhD

Folakemi T. Odedina, PhD

Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Director, Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research

Mayo Clinic

Jacksonville, Florida


Survival Skills: Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Folakemi Odedina is Professor of Internal Medicine, Associate Director of the Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research and Director of the Global Health Equity Initiative at Mayo Clinic. She is also the PI and Founder of the NCI-supported Prostate Cancer Transatlantic Consortium (CaPTC), the Research Core Director for the Florida Health Equity Research Institute and the Chair of the Research Committee for the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC). Her research program (primarily funded by the US National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense) focuses on developing cost-effective, community-based behavioral trials to address prostate cancer in Black men globally. She has directed over 30 research projects, including genetic-environmental determinants of prostate cancer disparity studies. Dr. Odedina’s contribution to achieving global Health Equity dates back to 1994 and has resulted in multiple accomplishments and recognitions. Her efforts in training underrepresented minorities for over two decades was recognized through the INSIGHT Into Diversity 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award. Additional awards include the Living Legend Award for innovations with health/economic impact and the Williams Award for Innovation in Cancer care in Africa from AORTIC. Her outstanding contributions were also recognized at University of Florida with her selection as UF Research Foundation Professor (2015-2017) and UF Term Professor (2018-2020).

With over 25 years’ in academia as a Black female cancer scientist, my experiences have been both positive and negative. I however would not trade it for anything else, even the negative experiences, as they made me who I am today. The most important thing to note is to believe in yourself and only compete with yourself and no one else. This is what pushes you to be the best that you can be, as you alone know what your limit could be. I have also learned over the years that eliminating cancer disparities requires a comprehensive collaborative approach at a global level.

Keywords: health Equity, Prostate cancer disparities, Behavioral Clinical Trials, Global health research

Kim L. O’Neill, DPhil

Kim L. O’Neill, DPhil

Professor, Department of Microbiology

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

Finding a Mentor and Building an Effective Relationship with Them

  • Presentations National and International over 900
  • Peer-Reviewe

Presentations National and International 900+

Mentored 21 Graduate students

Peer-Reviewed papers published 155

Books Several chapters and one book, “Powerplants”

Patents eight issued, 12 pending

Work hard, look for opportunities, believe in yourself, and never give up. Be prepared to adjust, be flexible always look for networking opportunities.

Keywords: macrophages, Thymidine Kinase, CAR Immunotherapy, biomarkers

  • Papers published 147
  • Books Several chapters and one book, “Powerplants”
  • Patents eight issued, 12 pending

“Work hard, look for opportunities, believe in yourself, and never give up. Be prepared to adjust, be flexible always look for networking opportunities.”

Keywords: macrophages, Thymidine Kinase, CAR Immunotherapy, biomarkers

LILLI PETRUZZELLI, MD, PHD

LILLI PETRUZZELLI, MD, PHD

Senior Vice President, gRED Early Clinical Development

Genentech, Inc. South

San Francisco, California

Careers in Cancer: Industry

Dr. Petruzzelli received a bachelor of science in chemistry and biology from MIT and her MD and PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She did her internship and residency training in internal medicine and her fellowship in hematology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. From 1994 until 2007, she was a faculty member and associate professor in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Michigan where she established a laboratory-based research program focused on the regulation of integrin-dependent adhesion in leukocytes and a clinical practice specializing in hematologic malignancies. 

Dr. Petruzzelli began her career in the pharmaceutical industry at Millennium in 2007, where she played a key role in the development of the Nedd-8 activating enzyme inhibitor and the oral second-generation proteasome inhibitor, Ninlaro.   She joined Novartis in 2009 as a physician focusing on translational medicine in oncology and had increasing roles of responsibility most recently leading Translational Clinical Oncology group since 2014. There she oversaw the development of the early oncology pipeline including the registration study for the ALK inhibitor Zykadia, the early development of Kisqali, the development a novel BCR-ABL inhibitor, ABL001, and the entire pre-PoC target and immune-oncology portfolios. In November of 2019, she joined Incyte to lead their early clinical development programs.

VICTORIA L. SEEWALDT, MD

VICTORIA L. SEEWALDT, MD

Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences

City of Hope National Medical Center

Duarte, California

Getting the Grant: Investigator Grants

Victoria Seewaldt, MD, is an internationally recognized expert in translational research, the interface between diabetes and cancer, and the health science disparities. Dr. Seewaldt leads a bench to community research program focusing on identifying molecular targets and multi-disciplinary targets for early detection of biologically aggressive cancers and studying the role insulin has on promoting aggressive cancer biology. Dr. Seewaldt has been continuously funded by NIH since 2000 to develop basic/translational research strategies identifying signaling networks that promote cancer initiation to provide early detection of interval breast cancers and reduce cancer health disparities and most recently diabetes. The unique feature of Dr. Seewaldt’s program is that biomarkers identified in the laboratory can be immediately translated to develop novel pharmacologic agents and strategies to reduce cancer health disparities and prevent type-2 diabetes. Dr. Seewaldt is the first generation born in this country; Dr. Seewaldt is a strong advocate for women, particularly women from diverse backgrounds; to this end she was awarded the 2017 NIH/CAP/CURE Champion Mentorship Award. Dr. Seewaldt currently is MPI of a T32 training grant to study the interface of diabetes, metabolism, and cancer. She is also MPI of the P20CA24619 University California, Riverside-City of Hope partnership to build capacity in translational research, drug development focusing on cancer and type-2 diabetes in diverse populations.

Sheila K. Singh, MD, PhD, FRCSC

Sheila K. Singh, MD, PhD, FRCSC

Professor, Department of Surgery

McMaster University, McMaster University Medical Center

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Balancing Research and Clinical Practice

Dr. Sheila Singh is a professor of surgery and biochemistry, chief pediatric neurosurgeon at McMaster Children’s Hospital, former division head of neurosurgery at Hamilton Health Sciences, and inaugural director of the Centre for Discovery in Cancer Research (CDCR). She holds a Tier 1/ Senior Canada research chair in human brain cancer stem cell biology, and is the founding director of the McMaster Surgeon Scientist Program. Her PhD thesis described the novel identification of a population of cancer stem cells that exclusively drive the formation of brain tumors. Since 2007, Dr. Singh’s lab applies a developmental neurobiology framework to the study of brain tumorigenesis. Building upon previous cell culture techniques developed for the isolation of normal neural stem cells (NSC) and applying them to brain tumors, and through development of a xenograft model to efficiently study brain tumor initiating cell (BTIC) activity, Dr. Singh’s lab aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that govern BTIC self-renewal. Dr. Singh is currently studying the regulation of BTIC signaling pathways in glioblastoma, brain metastases and childhood medulloblastoma, with an ultimate goal of selectively targeting the BTIC with appropriately tailored drug and molecular therapies. She is scientific founder and prior CEO of a start-up company, Empirica Therapeutics, a brain cancer therapeutics company that is seeking new, data-driven and polytherapeutic treatment options for patients with glioblastoma and brain metastases. Empirica was acquired by Century Therapeutics Inc. (Philadelphia) in June 2020, resulting in the creation of a Canadian subsidiary, Century Canada, based in the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton.

“A clinician scientist has the rare opportunity to bridge two worlds: for me, the worlds of pediatric neurosurgery and basic and translational science merge as we explore new therapeutic options for patients, that arise from rational, data-driven science. It is a balancing act, but a most rewarding one.”

Keywords: brain cancer, developmental neurobiology, surgical neuro-oncology, immuno-oncology, pediatric neurosurgery

Mariana C. Stern, PhD

Mariana C. Stern, PhD

Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences and Urology, Ira Goodman Chair in Cancer Research, Associate Director of Population Science

University of Southern California, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Los Angeles, California

Developing A Successful Career in Public Health

Dr. Mariana Stern is a cancer epidemiologist and professor of population and public health sciences and urology and the Ira Goodman chair in cancer research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She is also the associate director of population science at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and currently serves as director of master degree programs in epidemiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She has a PhD in cancer biology from the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and post-doctoral training in epidemiology obtained at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Stern has been a member of AACR since 1993 and has served as a member of AACR Minorities in Cancer Research Council.

Dr. Stern’s overall research interests cut across the following main themes: diet and cancer and cancer health disparities in underrepresented minority populations, with a focus on clinical epidemiology of prostate and colorectal cancer. She co-leads the NCI-funded Cancer Research Education and Engagement (CaRE2) Health Equity Center, a partnership with the University of Florida and Florida A&M university, dedicated to eliminating disparities among Blacks and Hispanics, and co-leads the patient engagement unit for the NCI-funded USC Center for Optimization for Participant Engagement for Cancer Characterization.

I started off my career as a cancer biologist, yet I have spent the past 25 years working in cancer epidemiology, as I followed my interest in cancer prevention and cancer health disparities, acquiring new knowledge and expertise as I pursued my interests. I learned it is ok to change paths if that will allow me to follow my passion and contribute to address gaps in the field and apply my expertise in different areas of cancer research. I have found that what has helped me the most is to find and nurture a community of colleagues with whom I share the same interests and passion, on whom I can rely on for advice, mentorship, collaboration, or friendship.

Keywords: cancer epidemiology, cancer disparities, underrepresented minorities, Hispanics

Jose G. Treviño, II, MD

Jose G. Treviño, II, MD

Chair & Surgeon-in-Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology & Massey Cancer Center

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, Virginia 

Career Transitioning: From Undergraduate to Graduate/Medical School

My clinical expertise in surgery and oncology allows me significant expertise in helping to oversee the advancement of a formal patient-derived xenograft/organoid program at VCU-Massey. With access to viable tumor tissues and PDX development, we have collaborated with top scientists in the country and worked on successful NIH and Foundation grant applications in the discovery of new proteins contributing to pancreatic cancer tumor progression. With my successes and national reputation, I work with international groups on pancreatic cancer (PanCAN) and have significant efforts on various NIH-funded proposals including numerous R01s, significant foundation awards (V Foundation for Cancer Research), and Department of Health extramural research grants. I was the co-PI on a funded grant to develop the first statewide academic cancer center collaborative dedicated to promoting the early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer. This collaborative highlights my leadership experience in running large-scale, multi-institutional studies. We have a funded lab with a sustained research program focusing on pancreatic carcinogenesis and patient-specific tumor-stromal interactions which affect skeletal muscle atrophy. We have also determined a significant pancreatic health disparity and determined possible initiating mechanisms of cancer cachexia as well as molecular differences amongst minority and diverse populations. My leadership skills, work, and laboratory efforts have translated his work directly into novel therapeutic clinical trials, increasing h-index to 31 and rising, over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and national and international presentations, and more than 40 invited speaker engagements at academic institutions across the country. I am a leader and chairperson for regional, national, and international organizations, am on numerous editorial boards and associate editor for the gastrointestinal section for the Journal of Surgical Research, and member for the National Institute of Health (NIH) Study Section in Cancer Biotherapeutics Development (CBD).

“Never give up!”

Keywords: pancreatic cancer, tumor biology, health disparities, cancer cachexia

Danny R. Welch, PhD

Danny R. Welch, PhD

Professor of Cancer Biology

University of Kansas Medical Center / University of Kansas Cancer Center

Kansas City, Kansas

What to Look for in a Good Mentor: Help I’ve Outgrown My Mentor

Danny R. Welch, PhD is a cancer biologist whose laboratory is most widely recognized for contributions to understanding the genetic basis of metastasis. After receiving a BS in biology from the University of California-Irvine and a PhD in biomedical sciences at the University of Texas-Houston. Welch worked in the pharmaceutical industry studying cancer biology and virology before joining Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. In 2002, his laboratory moved to the University of Alabama – Birmingham and in 2011, he founded the Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Kansas Cancer Center. He is a Komen Scholar Emeritus and past-president of the Metastasis Research Society and vice-president/treasurer of the Cancer Biology Training Consortium. He currently serves as a deputy editor of Cancer Research and is on the editorial board of eight other journals.

His major scientific accomplishments include:

  • Discovered eight of the 30 functionally defined metastasis suppressors
  • First to identify the pro-metastatic role for neutrophils (now described as myeloid-derived suppressor cells) and pro-invasive/pro-metastasis effect of TGFbeta
  • Developed and characterized many widely used metastasis models; wrote key methods review to perform metastasis assays; and, defined the first iteration of the hallmarks of cancer metastasis
  • Defined the first molecular pathways regulating metastasis and metabolism (includes microRNA) and how KISS1 induces dormancy of already disseminated cells and regulates metabolism
  • Developed the MNX mouse to study cross-talk between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA for the study of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other complex diseases. Defined mitochondrial QTL
  • Primary mentor for 22 graduate students and 40 postdoctoral fellows, all of whom have obtained research positions in cancer research in academia, industry and government.

“I’ve gotten by with a lot of help from my friends.”

Keywords: metastasis, genetics, tumor microenvironment, mitochondria

Clayton C. Yates, PhD

Clayton C. Yates, PhD

Professor-Director of Biomedical Research

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee, Alabama

Conducting International Research:  Things to Look Out for and Pitfalls to Avoid

Dr. Clayton Yates is an internationally recognized expert in prostate cancer health disparities research, cell biology, molecular biology, and molecular pathology. Dr. Yates earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Pathology. He then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Urology. After completing his post-doctoral training in 2007, Dr. Yates accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Tuskegee University in the Department of Biology and Center for Cancer Research.

Dr. Yates was promoted to associate professor in 2010 and full professor in 2014. Dr. Clayton Yates currents holds appointments in the Center for Cancer Research, and a joint appointment Materials Science and Engineering at Tuskegee University. He is also adjunct faculty at Clark Atlanta University Department of Biology and Department of Pathology at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Yates has an interest prostate and breast cancer research, particularly in African Americans. Dr. Yates has established several cell lines based models derived from African American patients that are used by many labs today to study molecular events the lead prostate cancer development and metastasis. Additionally, Dr. Yates has identified multiple biomarkers for the prediction of aggressive cancers in African Americans with prostate or breast cancer, and this has led to the development of a novel therapeutic for African American breast, prostate, and pancreatic patients.

Dr. Yates has also received numerous research honors and awards, authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications, participated in numerous Department of Defense and NIH study section panels, and received numerous DOD and R level NIH grants in prostate and breast cancer health disparities, totaling over 30 million dollars in extramural funding. Dr. Yates is currently the research director for the Transatlantic Prostate Cancer Consortium, which is focused on understanding the tumor biology in native African men in Nigeria and developing novel clinical interventions for this population. Dr. Yates is currently the principal investigator (PI) of the Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI), site PI of CTSA (jointly with UAB-hub institution), and co-PI of U54 Cancer Health Disparities with Morehouse School of Medicinal and University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Develop a supportive mentoring and collaboration team and stay focused.”

Keywords: Cancer Health Disparities, tumor microenvironment, drug development, translation