Opportunity for Research Excellence Meeting (Speaker Bios)

Speaker Bios


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    Otis W Brawley, M.D.
    Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, United States

    Otis Webb Brawley, MD, MACP, FRCP, FASCO, FACE

    Otis Webb Brawley is a medical oncologist and epidemiologist. He serves as Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Oncology of the School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Academy of Medicine.

    From 2007 to 2018, Brawley was Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of the American Cancer Society. From that position, he oversaw the largest private cancer research funding program in the U.S. He previously served as a professor in the Emory University School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health and as a tenured senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute.

    Among numerous awards, he received the Key to St. Bernard Parish for his work in the U.S. Public Health Service in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He is a Master of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology. Brawley graduated from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine.

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    Renee N. Donahue, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist, NIH

    Bethesda, United States

    Dr. Donahue is a Staff Scientist and Head of the Molecular Immunology Group in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, NCI. She received her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the NCI from 2011-2016. The Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology develops novel immunotherapeutics that are translated from hypothesis-driven preclinical studies to clinical trials. The Molecular Immunology Group is working to characterize the immune response of patients enrolled in clinical trials to identify patients, prior to or early following therapy, who go on to respond to various cancer immunotherapies. Dr. Donahue’s research program develops innovative methods to assess the immune response of cancer patients treated with combination immunotherapies as well as so-called “non-immune”‒based therapies. She investigates specific immune cell subsets in the peripheral blood of patients to identify potential correlations with clinical responses. Dr. Donahue’s studies are providing critical information toward the development of more effective immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer.

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    Leslie G Ford, MD
    Assoicate Director for Clinical Research, National Cancer Institute/Division of Cancer Prevention

    Rockville, MD, United States

    One of the most influential clinical scientists in the U.S. in the area of cancer prevention research, Leslie Ford, MD has had a profound impact on the health of women and men around the world. Associate Director for Clinical Research for the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Division of Cancer Prevention—part of the National Institutes of Health—Dr. Ford is a pioneer in her field whose leadership and vision helped create and establish clinical cancer prevention research as an area of study and practice. Dr. Ford’s work led to the creation of the Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP)—a sophisticated network of community-based cancer clinics that has facilitated participation in NCI-sponsored prevention, treatment, and cancer- control studies.

    As a visionary leader in her field, Dr. Ford spearheaded groundbreaking studies (the landmark Breast Cancer Prevention Trial and study of tamoxifen and raloxifene, or STAR trial) proving that breast cancer prevention is possible and demonstrating the effectiveness of several medications for the purpose of preventing cancer. She also directed the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which evaluated finasteride for prevention and collected critical information about prostate-specific antigen testing. This work also demonstrated the importance of community researchers as well as the ability to structure and implement nationwide drug trials to produce effective chemo-preventive drugs.

    In 2007, Dr. Ford received international recognition by the European Institute of Oncology for her “outstanding passion and pivotal role in creating, sustaining, and confirming the value of cancer prevention in modern oncology.”

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    Judy Garber, M.D
    Susan F. Smith Chair, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Chief, Division of Cancer Genetics and Prevention, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School , Dana-Farber Cance Institute

    Boston, United States

    Dr. Garber is the Susan F. Smith Chair and Chief of the Division of Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She conducts research in clinical cancer genetics, with a special focus in the genetics of breast cancer. She has played a major role in the development of national guidelines in cancer genetics. Dr. Garber is also a leader in research into the characteristics and treatment of triple negative or basal-like breast cancer, the most common form in women with BRCA1 mutations and an expert in Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. Her translational research focuses on the evaluation of novel agents targeting DNA repair defects in breast cancer, including PARP inhibitors for treatment and prevention of breast cancer and other BRCA-associated cancers.

    Dr. Garber is a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). She serves on the National Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute and was elected into the National Academy of Medicine in 2013. She also serves as the Co-Scientific Director of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and past chair of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. She is an ASCO Statesman and a Fellow of the AACR Academy.

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    Maggie House, RN, BSN
    Nurse Consultant, NCI/DCP

    Rockville, United States

    Maggie House is a nurse consultant in the Division of Cancer Prevention, and has over 30 years of oncology nursing and clinical trial experience. She earned her Diploma in Nursing from St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1982, and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University in 2000. Maggie provides support to the Prostate and Urologic Cancer Research Group Contracts and Grants Program, and to the US-Latin American-Caribbean HIV/HPV-Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials Network (ULACNet). Maggie also oversees the DCP Consortia Monitoring Contract, and leads the DCP Clinical Trial Simplification Committee to assess the effectiveness of clinical trial safeguards put in place during COVID-19, and to propose innovative approaches to clinical trial conduct. Maggie's clinical trial interests include clinical trial recruitment and retention, and clinical trial process improvements including clinical trial conduct, site monitoring/auditing, and staff education.

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    Shehnaz K. Hussain, PhD, Sc.M
    Professor and Associate Director of Population Sciences, University of California, Davis

    Davis, United States

    Dr. Hussain's research stems from a long-standing interest in the intersection of infections and cancer. As a molecular epidemiologist, she brings together a mindset for maximizing public health impact and scientific curiosity to orchestrate research in cancer etiology, pathogenesis, chemoprevention, and early detection. A common thread of her ongoing research is the identification of biomarkers that relate to, or modulate, the immune response including serum immune markers, intestinal microbiome, and immunogenic microbial components and metabolites. Currently, she is utilizing this immunoepidemiology lens to lead investigations of the disease continuum from metabolic associated fatty liver disease to liver cancer. Key components of this integrated research program include nutritional interventions in fatty liver, novel biomarker identification for the progression of cirrhosis to HCC, and statin interventions in cirrhosis and HCC. Additionally, her work explores potential biological basis for disparities in liver cancer which disproportionately affects Latinx/Hispanic individuals. Lastly, aligned with her long-standing interests in infectious causes of cancer, she is actively conducting research on EBV- and HPV-associated cancer etiology and prevention, particularly in the setting of severe immunosuppression (HIV and solid organ transplantation).

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    KyungMann Kim, Ph.D.
    Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Madison, United States

    KyungMann Kim, PhD, is a professor of biostatistics and statistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He serves as Director of the Clinical Trials Program at the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics. He is PI of the Cancer Prevention Clinical Trial Network Data Management, Auditing, and Coordinating Center (CP-CTNet DMACC). His main research interests are in statistical methods for clinical trials and applications in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and healthcare-associated infections among others. He has served on advisory panels (including two Federal Advisory Committees), National Institutes of Health study sections, and numerous data monitoring committees for the NIH, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, and biopharmaceutical and medical device industry, in addition to professional services to the American Statistical Association, the Society for Clinical trials, the International Biometric Society, the International Society for Clinical Biostatistics, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is an elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association (2005), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012), and the Society for Clinical Trials (2012) for contributions in statistical science and clinical trials methodology, professional services to government, industry and professional organizations, and leadership role at the national and international level.

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    Howard L. Parnes, M.D.
    Chief, Prostate & Urologic Cancer Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention/NCI

    Bethesdsa, United States

    Howard L. Parnes graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in Biology in 1977. He then received his M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey followed by a residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (formerly Baltimore City Hospitals). After completing a medical oncology fellowship at the University of Maryland Cancer Center (UMCC) he remained on the UMCC faculty for 8 years until coming to NCI, where he has directed the genitourinary cancer prevention program in the Division of Cancer Prevention since 2001. He has co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters and was a member of the Steering Committees for PCPT and SELECT, the two largest prostate cancer prevention trials conducted to date. In addition to his primary research interest in cancer prevention, Dr. Parnes is an attending physician and clinical investigator in the prostate cancer multi-disciplinary clinic and bladder cancer clinic at the Center for Cancer Research.

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    Ellen Richmond, MS, GNP-BC
    Nurse Consultant , NCI/ DCP

    Bethesda, United States

    Ellen Richmond, MS, GNP-BC, gerontological nurse practitioner and oncology nurse by training, is a Nurse Consultant and Program Director in the NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP) GI and Other Cancers Research Group, with a focus on esophageal cancer prevention and participant accrual. To promote a multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinary approach to efficient, inclusive clinical trial accrual, Ellen developed and leads the DCP Accrual Quality Improvement Program (AQuIP) for early cancer prevention clinical trials and co-developed the AccrualNet web-based accrual resource. In her Program Director role, Ellen has led several initiatives in Barrett’s esophagus clinical research including an NIDDK -NCI Barrett’s Esophagus, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus grants program and the Barrett’s Esophagus Translational Research (BETR) Working Group which led to the DCP-DCB collaborative network, BETRNet. In other cross-NIH collaborations, she serves as the Project Scientist for the DCCPS CISNET- Esophageal cancer group and as the NCI Nurse Consultant for the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) clinical trial project led by the National Institute on Aging. She joined the NCI DCP in 2000.

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    Sharon A. Savage, M.D.
    Clinical Director, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute

    Bethesda, United States

    Dr. Sharon A. Savage is the Chief of the Clinical Genetics Branch and Clinical Director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Her comprehensive approach combines genomics with clinical genetics and molecular biology to improve understanding of cancer etiology and the lives of patients with complex cancer-prone disorders. Dr. Savage's internationally recognized research in dyskeratosis congenita (DC) and telomere biology is leading the way in understanding the consequences of aberrations in telomere biology and cancer etiology. Her recent work has expanded to studies of other causes of bone marrow failure, including the first genome-wide association study of severe aplastic anemia, and novel causes of Diamond Blackfan anemia and Fanconi anemia.
    Dr. Savage created and leads the NCI’s clinical and genetic study of Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a highly penetrant cancer susceptibility syndrome often caused by germline mutations in TP53. This study is evaluating pediatric and adult cancer-screening regimens and exploring cancer risk modifiers in LFS, with the end goal of cancer prevention in these individuals.

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    Jeffrey Schlom, Ph.D.
    Chief, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

    Bethesda, United States

    Dr. Jeffrey Schlom is Chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He directs a translational research program in which the latest advances in immunology and immunotherapy are used to design and develop a range of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for a variety of human cancers. His most recent work involves the development of novel immunotherapeutics, including cancer vaccines, checkpoint inhibitors, immune modulators, and inhibitors of immune suppressive entities, both as a monotherapy and in combination therapies. The program focuses on the design and development of novel "off-the-shelf" immunotherapeutics that can be translated from hypothesis-driven preclinical studies to science-based clinical studies both at the NIH and at numerous Cancer Centers throughout the United States. Dr. Schlom serves on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals, has authored more than 800 scientific publications, and holds numerous patents for monoclonal antibody and recombinant vaccine generation and uses.

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    Shizuko Sei, M.D.
    Director PREVENT, National Cancer Institute/Division of Cancer Prevention

    Rockville, Maryland, United States

    Shizuko Sei, MD, is a medical officer and pediatric oncologist by training with more than 30 years of translational and clinical research experience at NCI. Prior to joining the DCP in 2015, she held multiple positions as a laboratory head/attending physician in the NCI Center for Cancer Research and Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, and more recently worked for the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (NExT). In her current capacity, Dr. Sei manages the NCI PREVENT Cancer Preclinical Drug Development Program (PREVENT), a peer-reviewed NCI program that facilitates preclinical development of innovative interventions for cancer prevention/interception toward clinical applications through partnerships with researchers in academia and industry. She serves as a non-voting member of CP-CTNet Steering Committee and as a medical monitor for the CP-CTNet program. Her research interest includes tumor immunology, viral oncology, cancer vaccines, novel drug discovery and development, and precision cancer prevention.

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    Eva Szabo, MD
    Chief, National Cancer Institute/Division of Cancer Prevention

    Bethesda, United States

    Eva Szabo, MD is the Director of the Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials Network (CP-CTNet) and leads its lung and head and neck cancer prevention program, through which she designs and oversees cancer prevention studies funded by the NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP). She is also the Chief of the Lung and Upper Aerodigestive Cancer Research Group in DCP and continues to see patients with lung cancer and thymic malignancies in the NCI intramural Thoracic Malignancies Clinic. Dr. Szabo’s research centers on identifying effective agents for lung and head and neck cancer prevention, identifying intermediate endpoints for assessing efficacy in early phase cancer prevention clinical trials, and developing new clinical trials models for assessing efficacy of preventive agents.

    Dr. Szabo received her B.S. in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry at Yale University, Medical Degree at Duke University. She completed her Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine at NYU-Bellevue as well as her Fellowship in Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Institute.

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    Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, M.D., Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

    Houston, United States

    Dr. Vilar-Sanchez is Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a physician-scientist and a medical oncologist with clinical expertise in hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes and colorectal medical oncology. His research is focused in developing novel chemopreventive interventions and early detection methods for patients at high-risk for colorectal cancer development. To accomplish this goal, his laboratory has characterized the genomic and transcriptomic landscape of premalignant polyps and identified new drug targets. In parallel, his team has applied this same workflow to genetically engineered mouse models that mimic the natural history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes to perform cross-species comparisons and validate these novel preventive agents and biomarkers in vivo. The Vilar-Sanchez laboratory has teamed with other groups to develop ex vivo models that better recapitulate the biology of normal mucosa and premalignancy. Finally, Dr. Vilar-Sanchez has designed, implemented and participated in several investigator-initiated clinical trials that have been funded by the NCI through the N01 Chemoprevention Consortium for early drug development in cancer prevention (Phase IB testing Naproxen in Preventing DNA Mismatch Repair Deficient Colorectal Cancer in Patients With Lynch Syndrome; and Erlotinib Hydrochloride in Reducing Duodenal Polyp Burden in Patients With Familial Adenomatous Polyposis at Risk of Developing Colon Cancer) as well as industry-sponsored trials (Phase IB of the IL-17 inhibitor Guselkumab in Familial Adenomatous Polyposis; and Phase II of Nivolumab in Preventing Colon Adenomas in Participants With Lynch Syndrome and a History of Partial Colectomy).