began my training as a cancer epidemiologist in graduate school, I was drawn
to study lymphoma because it affects so many people and because so little is
known about the causes of the disease.
I hope that my research efforts to understand the causes of lymphoma
will help lymphoma patients and ultimately lead to disease prevention.
I am honored and delighted to be chosen for this year's distinguished
Young Scientist Award by the Lymphoma Foundation of America."
the beginning of my career studying the causes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL),
I have felt that a clearer understanding of the biological nature of each
lymphoma subtype could lead to real progress in finding, reducing, or
eliminating the causes of this disease. Therefore,
I have dedicated my research efforts to identifying the risk factors for NHL
by closely considering the distinctly different types of NHL."
began my research on lymphoma during my graduate studies at the Yale School of
Epidemiology and Public Health by conducting a series of analyses of the
Connecticut women's case-control study of NHL, under the guidance of the
Principal Investigator, Dr. Tongzhang Zheng. I looked at how cigarette
smoking, alcohol consumption, hepatitis C infection, and other factors affect
the risk of developing lymphoma. Our work provided evidence supporting the
role of hepatitis C infection and cigarette smoking in the increased risk of
NHL, and showed that alcohol was associated with a decreased risk. I also
co-authored additional studies that looked at how patients' medical conditions
might predispose them to developing lymphoma."
was fortunate to have an opportunity to conduct analyses within the InterLymph
Consortium, an open scientific forum for international epidemiologic research
in NHL. By combining many studies
conducted around the world, we hope to provide sufficient statistical power to
detect associations by lymphoma subtype. Under the guidance of Dr. Zheng and
Dr. Patricia Hartge, I led the first questionnaire-based studies to be
undertaken by the Consortium. We
designed a system to uniformly code questionnaire data and classify tumor
types among nine disparate studies, thereby providing the largest combined
dataset ever developed for NHL, with approximately 6,500 cases and 9,000
controls. Thus, we were able to
report the most definitive data to date on the increased risk of follicular
lymphoma associated with smoking and decreased risk of B-cell NHLs with
alcohol use. The data showed that
risks do, in fact, vary among lymphoma subtypes, and warrant further
investigation regarding the mechanisms responsible."
arrived at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a postdoctoral fellow with
the intention of expanding my research on the etiologic heterogeneity among
lymphoma subtypes. My goals also
included further development of my understanding of molecular epidemiology,
under the guidance of Dr. Sophia Wang. Together
with Dr. Wang and other lymphoma experts at NCI, I conducted a comprehensive
analysis of NHL incidence rates in the U.S. using the updated World Health
Organization classification system, which incorporates morphology,
immunophenotype, cytogenic and molecular features, clinical behavior, and
known etiology and pathogenesis into the definition of each disease
NCI, I am currently involved in research to identify and analyze suspected
risk factors and patterns of risk among lymphoma patients in large cohort,
case-control, and pooled studies. As
there are opportunities to conduct high-quality molecular studies in
collaboration with lab-based experts, I am leading several molecular studies
investigating whether newly-discovered molecular markers are related to
patient survival or to behavioral and environmental risk factors.
I am also collaborating on several studies examining whether
individuals may have a genetic susceptibility to NHL that can be triggered or
amplified by environmental exposures, for example, to substances found in hair
dyes and well-cooked meat."