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Pre- and Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Cancer Education

Welcome to The University of Texas School of Public Health’s cancer education and career development program. We have both pre-doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships to launch your successful career in cancer prevention and control research.

The people — faculty mentors, the advisory committee and program directors — are the heart of our program.

Our interdisciplinary training program has an excellent track record: graduates go on to strong post-doctoral programs and faculty positions and become independent investigators. We work with three research centers at UTSPH: The Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR), the Dell Center for Healthy Living, and the Institute for Health Policy (IHP). Our research centers are involved in a variety of projects which provide opportunities to work on research project teams and to advance research skills.

  • More than 30 investigators with experience and training in multiple disciplines and training and cultural backgrounds who
    • draw on a range of theories and models
    • use both quantitative and qualitative methods for epidemiology, ascertainment, intervention, and diffusion research studies
    • have built collaborative networks in the Houston community, in the State, and elsewhere in the U.S. and nationally and internationally
    • are authors of widely used textbooks and editors and authors of other books
    • are reviewers on NIH study sections and other review groups
    • are members and chairs of influential task forces, boards, and advisory groups
    • are winners of prestigious awards
    • are committed to mentoring and recognized for mentoring excellence
  • Funded projects addressing a range of important risk factors, most of which are focused on underserved Hispanic, African American, and border and rural populations and also on subpopulations–e.g., drug users, incarcerated men and women, and neighborhoods affected by inequitable environmental policy and enforcement.

Historically, 25% of our post-doc fellows have been members of under-represented groups. Our former post-doc fellows are members of the faculties at Duke, University of Arizona, Baylor College of Medicine, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas School of Public Health and Medical School -Houston, University of South Carolina and University of Georgia.

Click on the links to the right to apply, or click on the other tabs to explore more aspects of our program.

Fellowship Programs

Pre-Doctoral Program

Our funding from the National Cancer Institute provides four fellowships per year for doctoral students at The University of Texas School of Public Health who have been admitted to doctoral programs in health promotion, behavioral sciences, epidemiology, biometry, policy sciences, or management and community health. Our Health Promotion/Behavioral Sciences Program was named #1 in the nation (see Ranking of Doctoral Programs in Health Education). The fellowships may be awarded at admission or to continuing students who show outstanding promise for research careers in cancer prevention and control. See expectations of pre-doctoral fellows, mentors, and program directors.

Pre-doctoral fellows receive:

  • Excellent mentoring in a stimulating research environment
  • Opportunities to work on research project teams (30%-40% time) to advance research skills and experience and research productivity
  • $23,000 for full-time effort toward a rigorous academic program
  • Full benefits and paid tuition for SPH and selected short courses, books, software, travel to national meetings, cubicle space and a desktop computer
  • Statistical and writing consultation
  • Seminars and grand rounds with MD Anderson Cancer Center fellows, faculty and international experts
  • Ongoing support and feedback in a research seminar for fellows and led by the program directors; sessions focus on work in progress, dissertation and grant applications, paper presentations, and job talks. See sample syllabus.

Post-Doctoral Program

Our funding from the National Cancer Institute enables us to support 4 post-doctoral fellows per year. Post-doctoral fellows in cancer prevention and control must have a PhD, DrPH, MD or other doctoral degree in health promotion/health education, a behavioral science discipline, communication, epidemiology, or a related area of study. Over a 2-3 year period fellows build their publication records, gain valuable experience on interdisciplinary research teams, take selected courses, and write at least one proposal for their own funded research in cancer prevention and control.

Expectations of Post-doctoral fellows

Post-doctoral fellows receive:

  • Excellent mentoring in a stimulating research environment; see CHPPR faculty, Dell Center faculty and Institute for Health Policy faculty and staff.
  • $50,000 and up for full-time effort
  • Experience working on research teams (30%-40% time) to advance research skills and experience and research productivity; see listings of CHPPR and Dell research projects.
  • Full benefits and paid tuition for SPH and selected short courses, books, software, travel to national meetings, shared office space and a desktop computer
  • Statistical and writing consultation
  • Seminars on current topics in cancer prevention and control with MD Anderson Cancer Center cancer prevention and control fellows and faculty; see sample schedule.
  • Ongoing support and feedback in a research seminar for fellows and led by the program directors; sessions focus on work in progress; modeling of grant applications and resubmissions, manuscript development and submission/resubmission, job interviews and job talks; and on mentoring, authorship, and special research topics of interest; see sample syllabus.

Faculty

Mentors

All fellows have at least two mentors from complementary disciplines, and in addition fellows interact regularly with the Program Directors. Fellows have the opportunity to work with faculty members whose research represents a wide spectrum of research populations, methods, and theories (a table of mentor research interests and current research projects is available). Mentoring is taken seriously in the Center, and the Program has formalized expectations of pre-doc and post-doc mentors. Good mentoring is modeled by senior investigators and is practiced at all levels.

Program Directors

mullen | NCI Fellowships

Patricia Dolan Mullen, DrPH, Program Director
Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and Senior Investigator and Training Director, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

Research interests: Health promotion for disadvantaged women, including incarcerated women; motivational models of behavior change; informed decision making for cancer and other screening tests; sexual risk behavior; evaluation methods; systematic review, evidence mapping, and meta-analysis.

kbartholomew | NCI Fellowships
L. Kay Bartholomew, MPH, EdD, Co-Director
Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Director for Intervention and Education Core, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research.

Research Interests: Self-management of chronic disease in children; health promotion intervention development and evaluation; promotion of cancer screening; asthma management

vernon | NCI Fellowships
Sally W. Vernon, MA, PhD, Co-Director
Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology, Director of the Division of Behavioral Sciences and Health Promotion, and Senior Investigator, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

Research Interests: Breast cancer screening; prostate cancer screening; psychosocial aspects of genetic testing for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer; and worksite health promotion

Advisory Committees

Our Advisory Committee represents wide-ranging expertise in cancer prevention and control and in training and mentoring pre- and post-doctoral fellows within the University of Texas School of Public Health, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, and other academic environments.

This internal advisory committee assists the Program Directors by:

  • Recruiting — by suggesting additional recruitment strategies and using their own professional networks to expand the applicant pool
  • Selecting candidates who are a good fit for the Program and likely to achieve the Program goals
  • Reviewing training plans, appraising trainee progress reports, and suggesting strategies for addressing systematic or any individual problems that are identified, including recommendations by mentors or Program Directors that a trainee be terminated or not renewed
  • Suggesting next steps, including specific faculty, post-doc, and other relevant positions to foster the careers of trainees completing the program
  • Reviewing the curriculum and new components that will be developed
  • Approving indicators of success and evaluating the success of the Program in achieving its aims

The Fellows

Current Predoctoral Fellows

Katherine Skala, MPH, CHES

BS, Physical Education, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
MPH, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health
working on: DrPH

Naomi Chen, MPH

BS, Biology, Wheaton College
MPH, Clinical and Translational Science, University of Alabama at Birminham
working on: PhD

Logan Thornton, MPH, CHES

BA, Spanish, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College
MPH, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, George Washington University
working on: DrPH

Samira Kamrudin, MPH

BS, neuroscience and behavioral biology and psychology, Emory University
MPH, chronic disease epidemiology and biostatistics, Yale School of Public Health
working on: PhD

Current Postdoctoral Fellows

Courtney E. Byrd-Williams, PhD

BA, psychology, University of Texas at Austin
PhD, preventive medicine and health behavior research, University of Southern California
working on: postdoctoral fellowship mentor: Deanna Hoelscher, PhD

Research Interests:

  • Individual, social, and environmental determinants of eating and physical activity behaviors of youth and their parents.
  • Effects of nutrition and physical activity interventions on adiposity and metabolic profiles in youth.

Publications:

  1. Hasson RE, Adam TC, Davis JN, Kelly LA, Ventura EE, Toledo-Corral C, Byrd-Williams CE, Roberts CK, Lane CJ, Azen SP, Chou C, Spruijt-Metz D, Weigensberg MJ, Berhane K, Goran MI. Randomized control trial to improve adiposity and insulin resistance in obese African American and Latino adolescents. Obesity. In press.
  2. Alderete TL, Byrd-Williams CE, Toledo-Corral CM, Conti DV, Weigensberg MJ, and Goran MI. Relationships Between IGF-I and IGFBP-I and Adiposity in Obese African American and Latino Adolescents. Obesity.2010. NIHMS 263010;DOI: 10.1038/oby.2010.211.
  3. Davis JN, Ventura EE, Shaibi GQ, Byrd-Williams CE, Alexander KE, Vanni AK, Meija MR, Lane CJ, Weigensberg MJ, Spruijt-Metz D, Goran MI. Interventions for improving metabolic risk in overweight Latino youth. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.2010 Oct;5(5):451-5. DOI: 10.3109/17477161003770123.
  4. Ranjit N, Evans M, Byrd-Williams CE, Evans A, Hoelscher D.Dietary and activity correlates of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adolescents. Pediatrics.2010 Oct;126(4):e754-61. DOI:10.1542/peds.2010-1229.
  5. Byrd-Williams CE, Belcher BR, Spruijt-MetzD, Davis JN, Ventura EE, Kelly LA, Berhane K, Azen S, Goran MI. Increased physical activity and reduced adiposity in overweight Latino adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.2010 Mar;42(3):478-84. NIHMSID189418; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181b9c45b.
  6. Byrd-Williams CE, Kelly LA, Strothers M, Huang TK. Dietary fiber intake and associations with adiposity and fasting insulin in a sample of college students with plausible dietary reports.Nutrition: The International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences.2009 Sep;25(9):896-904. PMCID: 2780237; DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2009.02.003.
  7. Davis JN, Tung A, Chak S, Ventura EE, Byrd-Williams CE, Alexander KE, Lane CJ, Weigensberg MJ, Spruijt-Metz D, Goran MI. Randomized control trial of circuit training to reduce adiposity and type 2 diabetes risk factors in overweight Latina adolescents.Obesity.2009 Aug;17(8):1542-8. PMCID: 2846423; DOI: 10.1038/oby.2009.19.
  8. Davis JN, Tung A, Chak SS, Ventura EE, Byrd-Williams CE, Alexander KA, Lane CJ, Weigensberg MJ, Spruijt-Metz D, Goran MI.Aerobic and strength training reduces adiposity in overweight Latina adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.2009 Jul;41(7):1494-503. PMCID: 2836768; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31819b6aea.
  9. Ventura EE, Davis JN, Byrd-Williams CE, Alexander KE, McClain A, Lane CJ, Spruijt-Metz D, Weigensberg MJ, Goran MI.Reduction in risk factors for type 2 diabetes mellitus in response to a low-sugar, high-fiber dietary intervention in overweight Latino adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.2009 Apr;163(4):320-7. PMCID: 285081; DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.11.
  10. Ventura EE, Davis JN, Alexander KE, Shaibi GQ, Lee W, Byrd-Williams CE, Toledo-Corral CM, Lane CJ, Kelly LA, Weigensberg MJ, Goran MI.Dietary Intake and the metabolic syndrome in overweight Latino Children. Journal of American Dietetic Association. 2008 Aug;108(8):1355-9. NIHMSID180369; DOI:10.1016/j.jada.2008.05.006;.
  11. Byrd-Williams CE, Shaibi GQ, Ventura EE, Sun P, Lane CJ, Davis JN, Kelly LA, Goran MI. Cardiorespiratory fitness predicts changes in adiposity in overweight Hispanic boys. Obesity. 2008 May;16(5):1072-7. PMCID: 2831808; DOI: 10.1038/oby.2008.16.
  12. Davis, JN, Alexander KE, Ventura EE, Kelly LA, Lane CJ, Byrd-Williams CE, Toledo-Corral CM, Roberts CK, Spruijt-Metz D, Weigensberg MJ, Goran MI. Associations of dietary sugar and glycemic index with adiposity and insulin dynamics in overweight Latino youth. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.2007 Nov; 86(5):1331-8.
  13. Koebnick C, Shaibi GQ, Kelly LA, Roberts CK, Lane CJ, Toledo-Corral C, Davis JN, Byrd-Williams CE, Weigensberg MJ, Goran MI. Leptin-to-adiponectin ratio as independent predictor of insulin sensitivity during growth in overweight Hispanic youth.Journal of Endocrinological Investigation.2007 Jul-Aug;30(7):RC13-6.
  14. Byrd-Williams CE, Kelly LA, Davis JN, Spruijt-Metz D, Goran MI. Influence of gender, BMI, and Hispanic ethnicity on physical activity in children. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity. 2007;2(3):159-166. DOI 10.1080/17477160701369167.

Yen-Chi Le, PhD

BA, Psychology with a minor in Biology, University of Texas at Austin
MA, Psychology, University of Hawaii
PhD, Social Psychology, University of Hawaii

William A. Calo, MPH, JD

BS, biology, University of Puerto Rico
MPH, epidemiology, University of Puerto Rico
JD, University of Puerto Rico School of Law
working on: PhD, Health Policy and Law
mentors: Stephen Linder, PhD and Mar a E. Fernandez, PhD

Alumni: Predoctoral Fellows

Jan Eberth

Tisha Felder
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Alumni: Postdoctoral Fellows

Sarah R. Arvey, PhD

The Setting

The places you’ll go!

The University of Texas School of Public Health’s cancer education and career development program offers both pre-doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships. We are now in our 18th year of funding from the National Cancer Institute, and have an established track record (see Alumni under “People”).

The University of Texas School of Public Health (UTSPH) is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center. The Health Science Center is part of The Texas Medical Center (TMC), the world’s largest medical center. TMC is located in Houston, TX, the 4th largest city in the United States.

We work with three research centers at UTSPH: The Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR), the Dell Center for Healthy Living, and the Institute for Health Policy (IHP).

Houston is a major city with a low cost of living and a high quality of life: a lively theater arts community, grand opera, a symphony orchestra, ballet, and various chamber orchestras and chorals. We also have the Texas Livestock Show and Rodeo, which features a stellar series of concerts each year with artists running from Bob Dylan to Rascal Flats; the Art Car parade; excellent public transportation (the Metro light rail line stops outside our door!); world-class art museums; and restaurants featuring food from every part of the planet. Whether you like to shop for clothes, food, books, or hand-crafted items from around the world, Houston’s the place for you. Hot? You betcha–you can swim ten (sometimes twelve) months out of the year, relieved by a month or two of cooler temperatures and once in a while a white Christmas. We are also the most air-conditioned city in the country–we invented the indoor ball stadium (the Astrodome) and the enclosed shopping mall. We’re forty-five minutes from the beach at Galveston and you can walk for miles–literally–underground, in the pedestrian tunnels that connect all the major destinations downtown. Come to the sun belt and be cool!

Read why Forbes ranked Houston #1 in their Top 20 Coolest Cities in America!