These national and international postdoctoral fellows are among an elite group of researchers who have successfully competed for a two-year fellowship award in cancer prevention and control, early detection, and risk assessment. Funding for these awards is provided by The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the Janice Davis Gordon Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship in Colorectal Cancer Prevention, and the Halliburton Employees Fellowship in Cancer Prevention.
As a native of Turkey, Fahriya Duzagac, Ph.D., originally joined MD Anderson in February 2018 and conducted ovarian cancer research in the Experimental Therapeutics in the cancer biology laboratory of Dr. Gabriel Lopez-Berestein. She completed an MSc degree and Ph.D. degree in Stem Cell Biology at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, and secured a fellowship from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK), the United States NIH counterpart in Turkey. Dr. Duzagac also worked as a molecular science and nanosystems researcher at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy, where she focused on developing colorectal and ovarian cancer tumor microenvironment using organoid co-cultures on a microfluidic chip to test chemotherapy drugs' efficacy and model tumor development and metastasis. She is a bright, innovative, talented research scientist fluent in Turkish, Italian, and English. Under the mentorship of Dr. Eduardo Vilar Sanchez in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, her research project, "Role of Neoantigen-Specific T-Cell Receptor for Cancer Interception and Immune Monitoring of Lynch Syndrome," aims to target tumor heterogeneity by understanding the role of cancer stem cells and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Duzagac is a rising star in cancer prevention research.
Che Young 'Christine' Lee, Ph.D., is a talented scientist with a promising career. She previously worked on the Children's Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) Project at the University of Houston, a large multisite obesity prevention project, where she led the collection, management, and analysis of data from over 2,000 children and families. Dr. Lee's dissertation project involved establishing a framework for evaluating self-report methods for estimating weight changes in individuals. Her project also resulted in three manuscripts. She holds an M.S. degree in Exercise Physiology from Seoul National University and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Houston. Under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Basen-Engquist in the Department of Behavioral Science, Dr. Lee's research focuses on energy balance with an emphasis on how changes in physical activity may be related to health effects. Her project, "Exploring the Perceptions of Physical Activity and Weight Management in Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivorship", aims to develop a survey tool for metastatic breast cancer patients to explore their needs, preferences, and barriers to participating in physical activity and weight management.
Kristin Primm, Ph.D., is on her way to becoming a successful independent investigator. She received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and an M.P.H. and Ph.D. in Health Education from Texas A & M University-College Station. Dr. Primm's research focuses on rural disparities in cancer and cancer-related comorbid conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and topics related to mental health and substance use disorder. She recently researched trends in mortality from five common cancers: breast, prostate, lung, pancreatic, and colorectal, to highlight disparities based on sex, levels of rurality, census region, and race. Dr. Shine Chang (Professor, Epidemiology; Director, CPRTP) and Dr. Daphne Hernandez (Associate Professor, School of Nursing, UT Health) serve as mentors on her project, "Population-Level Assessment of HPV Vaccination Trends, Use of E-Cigarettes to Quit Smoking & Cancer Screening Behaviors."
Naomi Q. P. Tan, Ph.D., received a B.A. and M.A. in Communications Research from the National University of Singapore. She received a Ph.D. in Communications Research from Ohio State University. Dr. Tan investigates the intersection of narrative persuasion and interpersonal communication in the domain of health. In particular, she has begun to amass a program of research investigating questions related to cancer screening interventions with Asian-Americans and experimental work assessing the effects of family health history narratives on family health information seeking and sharing. In her dissertation, Dr. Tan introduced and tested a model of narrative effects for cultural targeting. Her research aims to capitalize on the strengths of narrative-based messages and integrated with culturally targeted messages, to understand how to motivate cancer screening behavior among Chinese Americans, specifically in colonoscopy. Dr. Robert Volk in Health Services Research serves as her primary mentor on the project, "A Culturally Appropriate Narrative & Expressive Writing Intervention to Increase Smoking Cessation Intentions & Intentions to Engage in Lung Cancer Screening among Vietnamese American Men."
Cancer Prevention Postdoc Fellows in Action
The CPRTP NCI R25T predoctoral and postdoctoral cohort of 2015 – 2018.
Dr. Maggie Raber's research project is evaluating cooking and health for both adults at risk of cancer and in adult cancer survivors.
CPRIT postdoc, Dr. Ivan Wu, delivers a 90-second Elevator Speech during the 2018 CPRTP Summer Trainee Forum.
This is dedication! CPRTP Postdoc, Dr. Nathan Parker (& new father to ‘Kirby’) gives his Elevator Speech via a pre-recorded video, for the 2018 Summer Trainee Forum.
CPRTP Halliburton postdoc, Dr. Lewins Walter, gives an Elevator Speech about colorectal cancer immunoperventive strategies in lynch syndrome during the 2018 CPRTP Summer Trainee Forum.
CPRTP directors, Drs. Carrie Cameron and Shine Chang, present Dr. Georges Khalil, R25T Postdoc Fellow 2015-2017, a certificate of completion.
Behavioral Science Assistant Professor, Dr. Irene Tami-Maury (with 2018 summer graduate student, Marjorie Biel) is also a CPRTP Halliburton postdoc alumni (2012-2014) and active summer and postdoctoral mentor.
Recently Launched CPRTP Postdocs
CPRIT-Funded Postdoc Alumni
Puja Aggarwal, Ph.D., is a two-time CPRTP fellowship awardee. As a Ph.D. student at The University of Texas Health Science Center, she was awarded an NCI R25E fellowship in January 2015 under the mentorship of Dr. Carrie Daniel-MacDougall in Epidemiology. Her 2017 Ph.D. dissertation project with Dr. Katherine Hutcheson, Head and Neck Surgery, "Characterizing Risk and Burden of Lower Cranial Neuropathy as Late Effect among Oropharyngeal Cancer (OPC) Survivors." Her dissertation investigated the risk and burden of late lower cranial neuropathy (late LCNP) among more than 3,000 OPC survivors representing the largest and most comprehensive assessment of lower cranial neuropathy to date. After Dr. Aggarwal successfully defended her dissertation, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship under Dr. Sanjay Shete in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She investigated clinical and genetic predictors of risk-to-high prevalence cancer treatment‐associated symptoms, including dry mouth, dysphagia, mucus problems, choking, voice/speech, and fatigue among long‐term OPC survivors. She is currently the Coordinator of Clinical Studies in the Department of Pediatrics - Patient Care at MD Anderson.
Shikha Bista, Ph.D., has had extensive training in sociology, which refined her research interests related to immigration, race, and social inequality, emphasizing health disparities. She received a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Sociology from Loras College (Dubuque. Iowa) and Michigan State University (M.A. and Ph.D.). Dr. Bista's research emphasizes the importance of social determinants in health. Her dissertation, "Perceived Discrimination and Psychological Distress: The Moderating and Mediating Role of Social Context among Asian-Americans Nationwide," examined the relationship between discrimination and mental health among a nationwide sample of Asian Americans. Dr. Brista also explored the potential role of social context in moderating and mediating this association. Her current research project, "Cervical Cancer Screening: Factors Predicting Non-Compliance & Self-Reported Barriers among U.S. Women," has implications for identifying the role of societal factors in determining barriers to treatment, access, and preventive care among socially and medically underserved populations, to better understand its contribution to cervical cancer disparities. After completing her CPRIT postdoc fellowship under the mentorship of Drs. Surendra Shastri and Sanjay Shete, Dr. Bista continues her research at MD Anderson as an Administrative Postdoc Fellow in Education and Training.
Ruben Rodriguez-Cano, Ph.D., earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). During his CPRIT Postdoctoral Fellowship (Mentor: Dr. Janice Blalock, Behavioral Science), he investigated the effect of health risk factors, such as smoking or alcohol drinking, on the smoking cessation context among cancer patients. Dr. Rodriguez-Cano has clinical and research experience in substance abuse disorders and other mental health disorders since 2011. He previously trained in the development and psychopathology of children at the Prevention and Promotion Service of Child Development and Early Intervention (SEPRODIAT; University of Murcia, Spain). Dr. Rubén Rodríguez-Cano is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Psychosocial Determinants group at the PROMENTA Research Center at the University of Oslo, Norway.
Natalia Heredia, Ph.D., has research interests in cancer prevention for the Hispanic population through the energy-balance behaviors of physical activity and diet. She received a B.A. in psychology and policy studies from Rice University, an M.P.H. in health promotion from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in behavioral sciences from the University of Texas Health Science Center. In her CPRIT-funded project, "Understanding Factors Contributing to the Rise of Metabolic Disease and Associated Liver Cancer Among Hispanics," she explored how health behaviors, neighborhood environments, lack of information on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and existing NAFLD clinical practice, contribute to the risk of metabolic disease, liver disease, and liver cancer in Hispanics. Her research will help prevent liver cancers in the Hispanic community. After completing her CPRIT postdoctoral fellowship (Mentor: Dr. Lorna McNeill, Health Disparities Research), Dr. Heredia was appointed as an Assistant Professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health.
Mohammad Karim, Ph.D., received a Ph.D. in Health Services Research from Texas A&M School of Public Health. Dr. Karim has studied the long-term health-related expenditures incurred due to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) screening and treatment. His research investigates the survival and cost-saving aspects of cancer prevention. These cancer prevention efforts are essential for protecting individuals from the physiological detriments of cancer and saving families and health systems from getting overwhelmed by the financial toxicity of this dire condition. Dr. Karim was mentored by Dr. Sanjay Shete (Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MD Anderson) and Dr. Hye-Chung Kum (Health Policy and Management, Texas A&M University). Dr. Karim is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Multi-talented therapist and clinician-scientist Juliet Kroll, Ph.D., holds a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her training includes a 2-year rotation in the Harrold Simmons Cancer Center at Southwestern Medical Center. In 2016, she won an NIH grant as a primary investigator. She had had numerous training experiences in mental health and hospital-based settings. Dr. Kroll's research interests center on psychosomatic medicine, especially related to pulmonary physiology and stress. As a clinical psychologist, she is uniquely trained and poised to translate an understanding of biobehavioral processes into interventions that can minimize the toxicity of stress. Dr. Kroll's research focuses on "Examining the Impact of Financial Stress on the Patient-Caregiver Dyad: A Combined Study of Psychological, Behavioral, & Immune Processes." She is currently a Behavioral Science Postdoctoral Fellow at MD Anderson.
Sukh Makhnoon, Ph.D., completed an M.S. in genetic epidemiology and a Ph.D. in public health genetics from the University of Washington. Her dissertation addressed health psychology and patient-provider interactions. Dr. Makhnoon's goal is to lead efforts to ease the translation of new genomic applications in clinical genomics by developing education and communication tools to help providers, patients, and their families better understand and discuss genetic and genomic information. Dr. Susan Peterson (Behavioral Science) serves as the primary mentor; Sukh's research will focus on adherence to cancer genetic test-related recommendations and written and familial communication of uncertain genetic test results. After completing her CPRIT Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr. Makhnoon was awarded an NCI K99/R00 grant titled Multilevel Investigation of Uncertain and Reclassified Genomic Variants in Clinical Oncology. She joined The University of Texas Southwestern School of Public Health and Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center in Dallas as an Assistant Professor in June 2022.
Kristin Maki, Ph.D., received a Ph.D. from the
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, where she
gained theoretical and methodological training in health
communication. Dr. Maki's research aims to address cancer prevention
by examining individual factors—including health literacy—relating to
patient-provider discussions of lung cancer screening. Despite
recommendations that require shared decision-making before lung cancer
screening, research shows more to be learned in shifting this
guideline to practice. Kristin's research project, "Shared
Decision-Making Foundations & Lung Cancer Screening Discussion
using HINTS Data.", examines factors associated with the
occurrence of lung cancer screening discussions between patients and
clinicians. Dr. Maki is well on her way to becoming an independent
cancer prevention researcher.
Carol Wang, Ph.D., is a social and health psychologist deeply committed to cancer prevention and health behaviors in underserved communities. With a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and an M.A. in Psychology from the University of Houston, Dr. Wang has a passion for health disparities and cancer research. During her CPRIT-funded postdoctoral fellowship, she collaborated with Dr. Qian Lu, a Professor of Health Disparities Research, on intervention studies that target Asian-American breast cancer survivors. Her interest in cancer health disparities is apparent in her 14 publications (four as a first-author) and co-mentoring of young research scientists. According to her mentors, Dr. Wang is one of the best emerging scholars in the field and has consistently demonstrated independence, enthusiasm, creativity, and productivity, with a high potential to succeed as an independent researcher. She launched her career less than a year into her 2-year postdoctoral fellowship and now serves as the Division Director of Research Graduate Medical Education (GME) at HCA Healthcare in Central West Texas.
MD Anderson-Funded Postdoc Alumni
Onyema Greg Chido-Amajuoyi, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., received a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree from Igbinedion University, Nigeria. After which, he worked as a clinician before enrolling at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, where he received an M.P.H. (Epidemiology). Under the mentorship of Dr. Sanjay Shete and co-mentors Dr. Paul Cinciripini (Chair, Behavioral Science) and Dr. Ernest Hawk (Vice President of Cancer Prevention), Onyema's postdoctoral research will investigate the "Population-Level Assessment of HPV Vaccination Trends, Use of E-cigarettes to Quit Smoking and Cancer Screening Behaviors." Dr. Chido-Amajuoyi is an Internal Medicine Resident at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHealth) and CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Texas.
Margaret Raber-Ramsey, DrPH, has competed three fellowship awards with the CPRTP at MD Anderson. She received a certificate in culinary arts from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in London. Next, she obtained a B.S. in nutrition/food studies from New York University. While pursuing an M.P.H. from the University of Texas, she competed and won an NCI R25E graduate research fellowship. As Dr. Raber completed her doctoral degree in public health from the University of Texas, she was awarded an NCI predoctoral fellowship, followed by an MD Anderson postdoctoral fellowship. With Dr. Karen Basen-Engquist (Behavioral Science) and Dr. Joya Chandra (Pediatrics) as mentors, she lead innovative research in The Measurement and Impact of Healthy Cooking Behaviors in Nutrition Interventions Among Cancer Survivors and High-Risk Adults. Dr. Raber-Ramsey is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the department of Health Disparities Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Lilian J. Shin, Ph.D., has a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Psychology. Under the mentorship of Dr. Qian Lu (Health Disparities Research), her research interests focus on increasing well-being in collectivist cultures by tailoring positive activities (e.g., strengthening relationships). During her current postdoctoral fellowship, she applies concepts from positive psychology (i.e., well-being science) and health psychology to cancer prevention and control. She conducts analyses on the self-perceived burden, self-stigma, and quality of life with data previously collected on Asian-American breast cancer survivors. Dr. Shine will conduct a study testing the efficacy of self-administered positive activities(household contribution and mild exercise) in increasing agency and control during unpredictable life. She is dedicated to innovative positive activities to strengthen interpersonal relationships, which may be a key component of minimizing cancer-related health disparities in minority populations.