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Fellowship in cancer prevention and control

About the T32 Cancer Prevention and Control-Cancer Health Equity training program

The NCI-funded T32 Cancer Prevention and Control-Cancer Health Equity (CPC-CHE) training program at VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center enables pre- and postdoctoral trainees to become future leaders in cancer prevention and control (CPC) and cancer health equity science.

This predoctoral and two-year postdoctoral training program is individually tailored and multidisciplinary. It offers a core curriculum in the science and practice of conducting CPC and cancer health equity research, individualized training opportunities and a mentored research experience.

Specific opportunities include (but are not limited to):

  • Cancer communication, including the use of social media and digital/mobile health
  • Cancer health disparities
  • Cancer health care economics
  • Cancer survivorship and outcomes research
  • Community-engaged research
  • Health behavior research, tobacco control and cancer screening

Applicant eligibility

Predoctoral: Candidates should be enrolled in a participating VCU Ph.D. program, pursuing cancer-related research for their dissertation and have passed their comprehensive exams. Email mcccrtec@vcu.edu for additional information about the T32 predoctoral fellowship.

Postdoctoral: Candidates should have a doctorate (Ph.D., M.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in a relevant discipline by the start of the fellowship from an accredited domestic or foreign educational institution. In addition, candidates should have demonstrated an interest in cancer science and experience working in and fostering a diverse faculty, staff and student environment or commitment to do so as a postdoc at VCU. Candidates MUST have a green card or U.S. citizenship.

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Application process

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed upon receipt. Available slots are dependent on the number of positions actively filled. All applications must include the following:

  • A recent curriculum vitae (CV) including previous research experience, both didactic and practical
  • A personal statement describing the reason for seeking research training, specific research interests and how the fellowship will contribute to future career plans in cancer prevention
  • At least two letters of recommendation, including one from a training director or doctoral committee chairperson/advisor
  • At least three professional references

For information or questions about the T32 program, email mcccrtec@vcu.edu.

Current trainees

Joseph R. Boyle, PhDJoseph Boyle, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the NCI-funded T32 Cancer Prevention and Control-Cancer Health Equity Research Training Program in the Department of Biostatistics at Massey. Dr. Boyle received his doctoral degree in biostatistics from the VCU School of Medicine.

Research interests: Dr. Boyle's primary research field is spatial epidemiology, analyzing how disease rates vary over space and time. He has developed methods to estimate cumulative spatial risk experienced for diseases with long latencies including cancers and is interested in using many sources of data to model spatially varying associations of environmental exposures with disease risk with novel statistical methods.

Mentors:
David Wheeler, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Department of Biostatistics

Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Health Behavior and Policy


Karly Casanave-Phillips Karly Casanave-Phillips, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the CPC-CHE T32 training program in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Casanave-Phillips received her Ph.D. in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology from West Virginia University.

Research interests: Dr. Casanave-Phillips would like to continue her work in community-engaged research to promote health equity, and is interested in developing multi-level and integrated lifestyle interventions for cancer prevention and survivorship among adolescents and young adults.

Mentor:
Jessica LaRose, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Bradley Krisanits, PhDBradley Krisanits, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the NCI-Funded T32 Cancer Prevention and Control-Cancer Health Equity Research Training Program in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Krisanits received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), where his dissertation focused on the effects of diet and physical activity on prostate cancer progression. He also obtained a Master in Biomedical Sciences at MUSC in 2017, investigating the impact of poor diet on pubertal mammary gland development and breast cancer risk. Prior to accepting a postdoctoral position at VCU, he worked in the private sector as Director of Scientific Operations and Development.

Research interests: His overarching research interests involve the intersection of diet, physical activity and cancer prevention/progression. He is particularly interested in lifestyle impact on adolescence within cancer prevention, risk and control. He looks forward to enhancing his research skills and professional stature as a T32 CPC-CHE fellow.

Mentors:
Victoria Findlay, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery
Cancer Prevention & Control Program Co-leader, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center

Paula Bos, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
Cancer Biology Program Co-leader, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center


Gabrielle MaldonadoGabrielle Maldonado, M.S., is a predoctoral fellow in the CPC-CHE T32 training program in the Department of Psychology. Gabrielle brings an eclectic mix of experiences to the program which range from working as field paramedic to post-baccalaureate research as a clinical lab scientist working in a NIH-funded liver cancer research lab at Massey. Gabrielle also has a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s degree in Psychology from VCU. As a cancer survivor herself, Gabrielle brings her passion for advocacy, community engagement and cancer education and prevention to the T32 training program. Gabrielle also is the founder and president of Students Caring about Cancer at VCU which encompasses a group of students interested in cancer prevention work and promoting health equity.

Research interests: Gabrielle’s overarching research interest is around tobacco and nicotine product control. Specifically, Gabrielle explores motivations and behaviors associated with tobacco and nicotine product use. Through her research, Gabrielle also explores which populations may be at a higher risk for tobacco and nicotine product use. With findings from her work, Gabrielle hopes to inform tobacco and nicotine product prevention and intervention efforts, specifically those targeted towards populations who may be at greater risks for the detrimental health effects caused by such products.

Mentor:
Caroline Cobb, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology


Alison Patev, PhDAlison Patev, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the CPC-CHE T32 training program in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Patev received her Ph.D. in Health Psychology from VCU in 2021. Previously, she received her Master of Science degree in Experimental Psychology from Mississippi State University in 2015. She is also adjunct faculty in the Department of Psychology and teaches Introduction to Statistics, Experimental Methods and Social Psychology.

Research interests: Dr. Patev’s research interests are broadly related to the social determinants of health, particularly the role of stigma and discrimination on health behaviors and outcomes. Presently, she is interested in how smoking stigma and systemic oppression are related to smoking behaviors and smoking cessation among individuals from historically marginalized groups, including Black/African American individuals and LGBTQ+ individuals. Her ultimate goal is to eliminate smoking stigma as a barrier to smoking cessation among individual most at risk for negative tobacco-related outcomes.

Mentors:
Mignonne Guy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies

Caroline Cobb, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology


Alumni

Bryan McKiverBryan McKiver, M.S., was a predoctoral fellow in Massey’s CPC-CHE T32 training program. He is currently a Ruth L. Kitschstein predoctoral fellow Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Research interests: Bryan has a history of engaging in research related to cancer treatment (B.S.) and cancer genetics (M.S.). His current research focuses on investigating the role of Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1) and Cholinergic Receptor Nicotinic Alpha 7 Subunit (ChRNA7) in models of chronic pain, such as Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN). He is also interested in clinical and translational research.

Mentor:
Imad M. Damaj, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology


HeadshotMoriah P. Bellissimo, Ph.D., is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in health sciences from Georgia State University and a Ph.D. in nutrition and health sciences from Emory University.

Research interests: Her research focuses on understanding the role of diet, exercise, and metabolism on body composition and fat distribution, which strongly influence metabolic disease development. Currently, she is studying the role of nutrition and body composition on metabolism in individuals undergoing cancer treatment and cancer survivors. The goal of this work is to inform targeted, nutrition-focused therapies that promote health and mitigate cardiovascular risk in this population.

Mentor: W. Greg Hundley, M.D.
Chair, Division of Cardiology
Director, VCU Health Pauley Heart Center


HeadshotDevon C. Freudenberger, M.D., was a postdoctoral fellow in Massey’s CPC-CHE T32 training program in the Department of Surgical Oncology. Dr. Freudenberger received her medical degree from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and is currently a general surgery resident at VCU.

Research interests: Dr. Freudenberger’s primary clinical and research interests are in intra-abdominal malignancies. She is interested in the outcomes and health disparities associated with the disease and treatment.

Mentors:
Jose Trevino, M.D.
Associate professor and Chair, Division of Surgical Oncology
Surgeon-in-Chief, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center

Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Health Behavior and Policy
Associate Director of Population Sciences, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center


HeadshotCarrie A. Miller, Ph.D., M.P.H., recently completed her Ph.D. in social and behavioral sciences at the VCU School of Medicine. Her dissertation was facilitated by a Susan G. Komen predoctoral training fellowship and focused on the effects of providing average risk adults with colorectal cancer risk assessment results. She also obtained a Master of Public Health degree from VCU in 2013. As part of her master's program, Miller assisted with an evaluation of the colorectal cancer screening behaviors among community-dwelling residents of southeast Virginia and spent one month in South Africa helping to conduct a community-engaged research project. She has been honing her research skills for nearly two decades. Prior to attending graduate school, she worked in a variety of clinical research roles in the academic and private sectors.

Miller's overarching research interests involve the intersection of health and social, behavioral and psychological factors. She is particularly interested in health promotion and preventive services within cancer prevention and control. She is currently working with Bernard Fuemmeler and Sunny Kim on projects related to cancer communications, social media and mobile/digital health. She looks forward to contributing her expertise to these projects and enhancing her research skills and professional repertoire as a T32 CPC fellow.

Current status: Assistant Professor, University of Florida (starting 8/2022)


HeadshotJean Reading, M.A., was mentored by mentored by Jessica LaRose, Ph.D as a predoctoral fellow in Massey's T32 training program. Broadly, her research interests include the design and implementation of lifestyle interventions for the prevention and treatment of obesity. Within that overarching area of interest, she is specifically interested in the dissemination of evidence-based lifestyle interventions into real-world settings—including the use of technology and implementation in clinical care settings. Reading has published a systematic review of physician trainings related to weight loss communication with patients; examined gender differences in exercise preferences among young adults within the context of weight control programs; and is conducting a secondary data analysis of young men and women’s performance in a technology-driven behavioral weight loss trial. Her dissertation involves a pilot randomized clinical trial to determine the preliminary efficacy and feasibility of a low touch lifestyle intervention to reduce adiposity among young men, coupled with semi-structured interviews to refine the recruitment and intervention protocol.

Current status: T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


HeadshotElizabeth L. Adams, Ph.D., was a fellow in the NCI-funded T32 postdoctoral training program in cancer prevention and control research at VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her primary research interest included the development and dissemination of family-based interventions designed to prevent childhood obesity. She was particularly interested in how parenting practices shape multiple health behaviors (physical activity, eating, sleep patterns) in childhood and how these health behaviors impact weight trajectories across development. She worked with Massey researcher Melanie Bean in the Healthy Lifestyles Center at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU on projects related to the school food environment on children’s dietary intake and adolescent obesity treatment interventions.

Current status: Assistant professor, Exercise science, University of South Carolina School of Public Health


HeadshotKerri-Anne Mitchell, Ph.D., M.P.H., was a fellow in the NCI-funded T32 postdoctoral training program at Massey. Her core research interests included patient-centered care and communication, cancer disparities, and outcomes research and evaluation. Under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Brown, she explored how novel patient engagement and patient-provider communication strategies can be used to identify and incorporate patient priorities into cancer care decision-making. Dr. Mitchell’s goal was to improve the efficacy and timeliness of the implementation of patient priorities leading to improved care outcomes among vulnerable patient groups. She received her doctorate in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) School of Public Health in 2018 with minors in Biostatistics and Healthcare Management. While pursuing her doctorate she engaged in both independent and collaborative research projects at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center related to understanding patients’ perspectives of their care and defining patient-centered care for cancer patients. At UT Health, she contributed to projects focused on promoting cancer screening in minority populations and employee wellness.

Current status: Assistant professor, Austin College Public Health Program


HeadshotBonny Morris, R.N., M.S.P.H., was mentored by Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D, M.P.H., as a fellow in Massey's T32 training program in cancer prevention and control. Her primary research interests are in rural cancer control and care delivery. As a pre-doctoral fellow, Morris has examined rural cancer survivorship and care delivery strategies through qualitative studies on patient portal use, a systematic literature review of health technology use in rural populations, semi-structured interviews and qualitative analysis of treatment discontinuation in rural and urban breast cancer survivors, and a secondary analysis of electronic medical records and health claims data examining radiation treatment non-adherence in rural and urban cancer patients. Her dissertation involves a mixed methods approach to understanding treatment non-adherence among rural cancer survivors. She was recently awarded a prestigious NCI F99/K00 predoctoral to postdoctoral fellow transition award. 

Current status: Postdoctoral fellow, Wake Forest University Health Sciences


HeadshotNicole Nicksic, Ph.D., M.P.H., was a fellow in Massey's NCI-funded T32 postdoctoral training program in cancer prevention and control. Nicksic’s primary research interests are in tobacco prevention and control. She is particularly interested in electronic cigarette advertising and use behaviors among youth. She is currently working with Andrew Barnes and Thomas Eissenberg on projects related to determinants of youth tobacco behaviors amenable to federal and state tobacco regulations, as well as the influence of regulatory environments on youth tobacco use. Nicksic earned her B.S. in clinical laboratory science and sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2008. She worked as a medical technologist in a hospital laboratory in Milwaukee, WI, before beginning her graduate studies in epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at the Austin campus to earn a M.P.H. in 2013 and Ph.D. in 2016.

Current status: Research and analytics lead, Integrated Benefits Institute


HeadshotArnethea L. Sutton, Ph.D., was a fellow in Massey's NCI-funded T32 postdoctoral training program in cancer prevention and control. Sutton's primary research interests were in cancer disparities, cancer genetics, survivorship and community engaged-research. She was particularly interested in developing interventions that seek to improve the quality of life of Black cancer survivors. She worked with Vanessa B. Sheppard on projects related to endocrine therapy initiation and persistence in breast cancer survivors, genetic cancer risk assessment uptake in Black and Latina women, and male cancer survivors. Sutton received her bachelor's in clinical laboratory sciences from VCU in 2006, a master's in clinical laboratory sciences from VCU in 2006, and a doctorate in health-related sciences from VCU in 2017. She was recently awarded a prestigious K99/R00 award.

Current status: Assistant professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

HeadshotBernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Health behavior and policy, School of Medicine
Associate director, Population sciences


Oxana PaleshOxana Palesh, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Professor, Psychiatry, School of Medicine


HeadshotAndrew Barnes, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Health behavior and policy, School of Medicine


Headshot Melanie Bean, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Pediatrics, School of Medicine


HeadshotAlison Breland, Ph.D.
Assistant research professor, Psychology, College of Humanities and Sciences


Jim BurchJames Burch, Ph.D.
Professor, Family medicine and epidemiology, School of Medicine


HeadshotCaroline  Cobb, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Psychology, College of Humanities and Sciences


HeadshotThomas Eissenberg, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology, College of Humanities and Sciences


Victoria Findlay, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Surgery, School of Medicine


HeadshotWilliam Greg Hundley, M.D.
Professor, Internal medicine, Cardiology, School of Medicine


Alex KristAlexander Krist, M.P.H., M.D.
Professor, Family medicine and population health, School of Medicine


HeadshotJessica LaRose, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Social and Behavioral Health, School of Medicine


Ashlee LoughanAshlee Loughan, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Neurology, School of Medicine


HeadshotS. Patrick Nana-Sinkam, M.D.
Professor and Chair, Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine, Internal Medicine, School of Medicine


HeadshotVanessa Sheppard, Ph.D.
Professor and chair, Health Behavior and Policy, School of Medicine


Gordon SmithA. Gordon Smith, M.D., FAAN
Professor and chair, Neurology, School of Medicine


HeadshotTheresa Swift-Scanlan, Ph.D., R.N.
Associate professor, Adult health and nursing systems, School of Nursing


HeadshotMaria Thomson, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Social and behavioral health, School of Medicine


Jose TravinoJose Trevino, M.D.
Associate professor and chair, Division of Surgical Oncology, School of Medicine


David Turner, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Surgery, School of Medicine


HeadshotDavid Wheeler, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Biostatistics, School of Medicine


Dr. Robert WinnRobert Winn, M.D.
Director, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor, Pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, School of Medicine

HeadshotSuzanne  Ameringer, Ph.D., R.N.
Associate professor, Family and community health nursing, School of Nursing


HeadshotJ. Brian Cassel, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Care, Internal medicine, School of Medicine


HeadshotBassam Dahman, M.S., Ph.D.
Associate professor, Health behavior and policy, School of Medicine


HeadshotM. Imad Damaj, Ph.D.
Professor, Pharmacology and toxicology, School of Medicine


HeadshotMignonne Guy, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, African American studies, College of Humanities and Sciences


HeadshotNao Hagiwara, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Psychology, College of Humanities and Sciences


Mosavel MaghboebaMaghboeba Mosavel, Ph.D.
Associate professor, Social and Behavioral Health, School of Medicine


Emmanuel Taylor, MSc, Dr.Ph.
Professor, Health behavior and policy, School of Medicine
Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center