NCI Rising Scholars: Cancer Research Seminar Series (Past Webinars)

Past Webinars


  Thursday, January 19, 2023 | 2 to 3 pm EST

"The Spatial Landscape of Progression and Immunoediting in Primary Melanoma at Single-Cell Resolution"
Dr. Ajit Johnson Nirmal, K99/R00 Awardee
Harvard University

Dr. Ajit Johnson Nirmal is a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Peter Sorger and Dr. David Weinstock at the Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Nirmal studies the role of tumor microenvironment in tumor development and drug resistance. By computational integration of highly multiplexed imaging data with omics data, Dr. Nirmal aims to decipher regulatory circuits that underlie cancer development and drug resistance, with a goal of building dynamic personalized medicine frameworks that will generate clinically actionable therapeutic insights for individual patients.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be cured if caught early but can be life-threatening if it spreads. In this study, we used a combination of imaging and sequencing technology to study how melanoma interacts with its microenvironment. We found that the organization of cancer cells, immune cells, and other cells in the body changes as melanoma progresses. In early stages, there are signs that the immune system is being suppressed. When melanoma becomes invasive, specific areas form where the immune system is suppressed, and cancer cells can grow and spread. However, a short distance away, there are also areas where the immune system fights cancer. This shows that cancer and the immune system can coexist and evolve together. This type of study helps understand how cancer can avoid being destroyed by the immune system.


Presentation Recording

  Thursday, February 16, 2023 | 2 to 3 pm EST

"Donor Clonal Hematopoiesis and Recipient Outcomes After Transplantation"
Dr. Chris Gibson, K08 Awardee
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Chris Gibson graduated from Yale University School of Medicine in 2009 and trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he was also chief medical resident. He completed his oncology and hematology fellowships at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2017. His research focuses on how genetic mutations in the blood cells of bone marrow transplant donors and recipients affect recipient outcomes.

Clonal hematopoiesis (CH) can be transmitted from a donor to a recipient during allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation. Exclusion of candidate donors with CH is controversial since its impact on recipient outcomes and graft alloimmune function is uncertain. We performed targeted error-corrected sequencing on samples from 1,727 donors age 40 years or older and assessed the effect of donor CH on recipient clinical outcomes. We measured long-term engraftment of 102 donor clones and cytokine levels in 256 recipients at 3 and 12 months after transplant. We found that donor CH is closely associated with clinical outcomes in transplant recipients, with differential impact on graft alloimmune function and potential for leukemic transformation related to mutated gene and somatic clonal abundance. Donor DNMT3A-CH is associated with improved recipient survival because of reduced relapse risk and with an augmented network of inflammatory cytokines in recipients. Risk of donor cell leukemia in allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation is driven by somatic myelodysplastic syndrome–associated mutations or germline predisposition in donors.


Presentation Recording

  Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 2 to 3 pm EST

"Exploring the Role of Masculine Role Norms, Medical Mistrust, and Normative Support on Colorectal Cancer Screening Uptake among African-American Men"
Dr. Charles R. Rogers, K01 Awardee
Medical College of Wisconsin

Dr. Charles R. Rogers is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Health & Equity at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), an MCW Cancer Center Research Scholar Endowed Chair, and the inaugural Associate Director of Community Outreach & Engagement at MCW’s Cancer Center. He is also the Founding Director of his Men’s Health Inequities Research Lab and an Associate Member of the University of Michigan Mixed Methods Program. He is committed to dismantling systems of oppression to ensure equitable health for all. His transdisciplinary training in applied mathematics and statistics, health education, public health administration and policy, community-based participatory research, and cancer-related health disparities provides a unique perspective on translating research findings into effective approaches to disease prevention. For more than 20 years, Dr. Rogers has shared his knowledge across the world and via numerous media outlets. To learn more, visit or follow Dr. Rogers on Twitter: @crrogersPhD.

Among all racial and ethnic groups, African-American men are the most likely to get colorectal cancer (CRC) and to die of it. Screening can prevent CRC and save lives, but few African-American men receive a CRC screening test. This study recruited English-speaking African-American men aged 45 to 75 into focus groups to examine how their attitudes, beliefs, and life circumstances affected their likelihood of getting a CRC screening test. These focus groups revealed two important barriers for these African-American men to getting screened for CRC: the way they thought about the social expectations of being a man and their mistrust of doctors. The researchers concluded that healthcare professionals need to find ways to address these barriers when they develop programs aimed at encouraging African-American men to get screened for CRC.


Presentation Recording

  Thursday, April 20, 2023 | 2 to 3 pm EST

Experiences of Racially/Ethnically Diverse Young Breast Cancer Survivors: Preliminary Survey Observations
Dr. Tarsha Jones, K01 Awardee
Florida Atlantic University

Tarsha Jones, PhD, MSN, RN, PHNA-BC, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. She obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree from Seton Hall University, a Master’s of Science in Community/Public Health Nursing from the Catholic University of America, with a specialization in immigrants, refugees, and global health. She is a board certified advanced public health nurse (PHNA-BC). She obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing degree from Duquesne University and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jones’s research focuses on breast cancer prevention and control and reducing cancer health disparities. She has been a champion for vulnerable underserved populations and promoting health equity. Dr. Jones is a member of Sigma, an International Nursing Honor Society and the International Nursing CASCADE Consortium.

This presentation will discuss preliminary observations from a survey of diverse young breast cancer survivors.


Presentation Recording

  Thursday, May 18, 2023 | 2 to 3 pm EST

"Utilizing Multiple Strategies to Advance Equitable Implementation of Lung Cancer Screening: Implications of Varying Eligibility Criteria by Race and Ethnicity"
Dr. Randi Williams, K99/R00 Awardee
Georgetown University

Randi M. Williams, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Oncology and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program within the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center. Her research focuses on methods to promote the adoption of evidence-based lung cancer control practices to advance health equity.

Dr. Williams’s research utilizes multilevel approaches to promote equitable care within the healthcare setting. In her ongoing National Cancer Institute-funded K99/R00, Dr. Williams is targeting provider and patient behavior to promote patient-provider communication about lung cancer screening and to advance equity in screening rates between Black and White patients.

Dr. Williams completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Lombardi under a Diversity Supplement. She received her PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park, School of Public Health, her MPH in behavioral sciences and health education from Emory University and a BA degree in psychology from Syracuse University.

In 2013, lung cancer screening (lung screening) was recommended for high-risk individuals. The annual rate of lung screening has risen slowly, particularly among Black individuals. In part, this racial disparity resulted in expanded 2021 screening criteria. Methods: Survey data were used to: 1) describe the number of people screened in 2019, 2) compare the percent eligible for lung screening using the 2013 versus the 2021 guidelines, and 3) determine the percent eligible using more detailed criteria. Results: Lung screening rates increased in 2019, and the 2021 criteria will result in more individuals eligible for screening. Using additional criteria may identify more individuals eligible for lung screening. Conclusions: This presentation will discuss ways to include more individuals who may benefit from lung screening and other strategies that can improve screening rates in an equitable manner


Presentation Recording