NCI Fellowships

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Welcome to The School of Public Health’s cancer education and career development program. We have both predoctoral 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 program has an excellent track record with graduates going on to strong postdoctoral programs and faculty positions to become independent investigators. We work closely with research centers at the schoolThe Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, and the Institute for Health Policyand with mentors elsewhere in the school and at UT MD Anderson and Simmons Cancer Centers. 

  • The program offers 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 and exposures, 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, one-third of our fellows have been members of under-represented groups. Our former postdoc fellows are members of the faculties at Duke, University of Arizona, Baylor College of Medicine, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, UTHealth School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, University of California at San Francisco, The Medical College of South Carolina, and Pennsylvania State University.  Others serve at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Programs

Doctoral Program

Our funding from the National Cancer Institute provides four fellowship positions per year for doctoral students at UTHealth School of Public Health who have been admitted to or are currently enrolled in doctoral programs in health promotion, behavioral sciences, epidemiology, biometry, policy sciences, or management and community health.  Fellowships are awarded at admission or to continuing students who show outstanding promise for research careers in cancer prevention and control. See expectations of predoctoral fellows, mentors, and program directors.

Doctoral fellows receive:

  • Support for up to 4 years
  • $26,324 annual stipend plus health insurance
  • Tuition and fees, books, software, travel

A Quality Program with Career Gains

  • A thriving interdisciplinary research environment
  • Houston campus located in the world’s largest medical center
  • Regional campuses in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio, and Brownsville
  • Outstanding faculty mentors
  • Grant portfolio addressing diverse risk-factors and development of cancer control interventions
  • Strong emphasis on under-served groups and the reduction of cancer-related health disparities
  • Established track record, now beginning its 26th year
  • Weekly contact with faculty, postdocs, and other doctoral fellows through a seminar focused on proposal writing, publication, and career development

Postdoctoral Program

Our funding from the National Cancer Institute enables us to support 4 postdoctoral fellows per year. Postdoctoral 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. See Expectations of Postdoctoral fellows.

Postdoctoral fellows receive:

  • Funded by the National Cancer Institute
  • Support for up to 3 years
  • Annual stipend starting at $48,432, depending on experience
  • Health insurance, tuition, books, software, and travel

Unique training in health disparities, dissemination, implementation science, and innovative thinking:

  • Project portfolios with interdisciplinary teams addressing diverse risk factors with a strong focus on under-served groups
  • Established track record – now beginning its 26th year
  • Fellows go on to academic and government research positions (alumni )
  • Excellent mentoring and training opportunities that advance fellows’ skills, experience, networks, and research productivity
  • Weekly contact with faculty, doctoral fellows, and other postdocs in an ongoing seminar on proposal writing, publication, and career development

Program Directors

Maria E. Fernandez, PhD, Director

Maria E. Fernandez, PhD image

Lorne Bain Distinguished Professor of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences and Director, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

Teaching Interests: Health promotion & behavioral sciences, health promotion planning and implementation using intervention mapping, and dissemination and implementation

Research Interests: Dissemination and implementation research, health promotion planning; intervention mapping, health equity / health disparities, cancer control, Hispanic and other underserved populations, health promotion program evaluation, technology in health promotion, primary care, health communications

Maria.E.Fernandez@uth.tmc.edu

Sally W. Vernon, PhD, MA, Program Co-Director

Professor of Behavioral Sciences and Epidemiology, Chair, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences
Blair Justice, PhD Professorship in Mind-Body Medicine and Public Health, and Senior Investigator, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

Research Interests: Cancer prevention and control for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers, psychosocial issues in cancer genetic testing, measurement of psychosocial constructs, reliability and validity of self-report cancer screening behaviors, cancer screening and prevention, and HPV

Sally.W.Vernon@uth.tmc.edu

Sally W. Vernon, MA, PhD, Co-Director

Patricia Dolan Mullen, DrPH, MLS, Program Co-Director

Dr.Mullen

The University of Texas System Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and Senior Investigator and Training Director, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

Teaching Interests: Research and career development skills for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, with an emphasis on innovation and systematic review and meta-analysis

Research Interests: Maternal and fetal health, smoke-free homes, informed decision-making for cancer and other screening tests, adaptation of evidence-based interventions, systematic review and meta-analysis, and evaluation research

Patricia.D.Mullen@uth.tmc.edu

Advisory Committee

Our Advisory Committee represents wide-ranging expertise in cancer prevention and control and in training and mentoring predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows within The School of Public Health, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, and other academic environments.

  • Deanna Hoelscher, PhD, RD, LD, CNS, John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion and Director of the internationally renowned Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living leads multiple additions to the CATCH school health program that have undergone successful testing and dissemination.
  • Cheryl L. Perry, PhD, is the Regional Dean of the Austin Campus and Director and PI of the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science on Youth and Young Adults. She served as Scientific Editor of the 1994 and 2012 Surgeon General's Reports on preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults, and on the Scientific Editorial team for the 1st national report on e-cigarettes in 2016.
  • Xianglin Du, MD, PhD, Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Health Sciences, is a gerontologist and cancer epidemiologist who has received ongoing support from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for analyses of SEER-Medicare data on cancer screening, stage at diagnosis, treatment disparities, and survivorship issues.  He leads Program trainees in analyses of these and newly linked national databases, leading to numerous publications in high impact cancer journals.
  • Stephen H. Linder, PhD, Professor of Management, Policy, and Community Health and Director, Institute for Health Policy has won numerous state-wide teaching awards. He has extensive experience with "knowledge transfer" projects, with community-based environmental risk assessment, and with community surveys that provide data to the public for community planning.
  • Karen Basen-Engquist, PhD, MPH, is Annie Laurie Howard Research Distinguished Professor in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Director, Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship.  She is an alumna.
  • Loma Haughton McNeil, PhD, MPH, is Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Health Disparities Research. She also directs the Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research.
  • Jasmine Tiro, PhD, she is the Co-program Leader of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.  She is an Associate Professor, Division of Clinical Sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Mentors

All fellows have at least two mentors from complementary disciplines. Fellows have the opportunity to work with faculty members whose research represents a wide spectrum of research populations, methods, and theories. Mentoring is taken seriously in the Center, and the Program has formalized expectations of predoc and postdoc mentors. Good mentoring is modeled by senior investigators and is practiced at all levels.

Danmeng Huang

Danmeng Huang, MPA

September 2015 - August 2018

CV

BA, Medicine, Public Policy, Sun Yat-sen University
MPA, Social Policy/ Healthcare Policy & Management, Cornell University
Working on: PhD, Policy & Management Science

Research Interests:

Decision science, economic evaluation, policy evaluation, claims data, and breast cancer screening

Andrea Betts, MPH

September 2016 - Present

CV

BA, English and Political Science, Southern Methodist University
MPH, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas
Working on: PhD, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, in Dallas Regional Campus

Research Interests:

Cancer survivorship, adolescent & young adult cancer, mixed methods research

Andrea Betts

Gordon Watt

Gordon Watt, BA

September 2017 - August 2018

CV

BA,Plan II Honors & Hispanic Linguistics, The University of Texas at Austin

Working on: PhD, Epidemiology, in Brownsville Regional Campus

Research Interests:

Liver disease in Mexican Americans living along the Texas-Mexico border, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, health disparities, cohort studies

Lynn Ibekwe, MPH

September 2017 - Present

CV

BA, Medicine, Health, and Society & Sociology, Vanderbilt University
MPH, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health
Working on: PhD, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

Research Interests:

Health disparities in cancer prevention & control, chronic disease prevention & management, health promotion for minority populations, intervention development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination

Professional Photo

Jessica Austin

Jessica Austin, MPH

May 2018 - Present

CV

BS, Neuroscience, Texas Christian University
MPH, Behavioral and Community Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center 
Working on: PhD, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, in Dallas Regional Campus

Research Interests:

Cancer survivorship, health services research, survivorship care planning, patient centered communication, self-management, dissemination & implementation science, mixed-methods research, multi-level interventions

Jenna Parro, MHA

August 2018 - Present

CV

BA, Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin
MHA, Texas State University
Working on: PhD, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

Research Interests:

Cancer health disparities, women’s health, LGBTQ health, underserved populations, health communication, qualitative research

Jenna+Parro

Postdoctoral Fellows 

Current

Amy Hughes

Amy E. Hughes, PhD

CV

BS, Economics, California Polytechnic State University
MS, Economics, The University of Texas at Dallas
PhD, Geospatial Information Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas

Research Interests:

Applications of spatial statistics & spatial econometrics; geographic policy implications relevant to cancer screening and outcomes research

Career Aspirations: 

Research and teaching in an academic setting

Publications:

Estimating the Health and Economic Impacts of Changes in Local Air Quality

The Utility of EMR Address Histories for Assessing Neighborhood Exposures

Understanding how low-socioeconomic status households cope with health shocks: An analysis of multi-sector linked data

Financial Incentives for Promoting Colorectal Cancer Screening: A Randomized, Comparative Effectiveness Trial

Neighborhood Effects in a Behavioral Randomized Controlled Trial

Using address histories in health research: challenges and recommendations for research


Gregory Knell, PhD

CV

BS, Kinesiology, Texas A&M University
MS, Kinesiology, University of North Texas
PhD, Epidemiology, UTHealth School of Public Health

Research Interests:

Epidemiology of sleep, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors and their role in chronic disease and cancer prevention and control; Physical activity measurement

Career Aspirations: 

Research and teaching in an academic setting

Gregory Knell

Publications:

Transit use and physical activity: Findings from the Houston travel-related activity in neighborhoods (TRAIN) study

Clinical importance of non-participation in a maximal graded exercise test on risk of non-fatal and fatal cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality: CARDIA study

Ecological Momentary Assessment of Physical Activity: Validation Study

The Effect of Light Rail Transit on Physical Activity: Design and Methods of the Travel-Related Activity in Neighborhoods Study

The Association of Trip Distance With Walking To Reach Public Transit: Data from the California Household Travel Study

Postdoc Alumni

William+Calo

William Calo, PhD, JD, MPH (September 2010 - June 2014)

Assistant Professor,  Dept. of Public Health Sciences, Penn State University College of Medicine & Cancer Institute at Hershey, PA

BS, Biology, University of Puerto Rico
MPH, Epidemiology, University of Puerto Rico
JD, University of Puerto Rico School of Law
PhD, Health Management & Policy, UTHealth School of Public Health (June 2014)

Kimberly Enard, PhD, MBA, MSHA (December 2012 - July 2014)

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health Management & Policy, St. Louis University

BA, Mass Communications & Theater, University of Denver
MSHA/MBA, Health/Business Administration, Georgia State University
PhD, Health Policy & Management, University of California, Los Angeles (July 2014)

Kimberly Enard

Casey+Durand

Casey Durand, PhD, MPH (July 2012 - September 2014)

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health

BA, Government, Minor, History, The University of Texas at Austin
MPH, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health
PhD, Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine (June 2012)

Albert Farias, PhD (March 2013 - August 2015)

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Clinical Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California

BS, Biology, University of California, Los Angeles
MPH, Social Medical Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
PhD, Health Services Research, University of Washington School of Public Health (2015)

AlbertFarias
Marieke+Hartman

Marieke Hartman, PhD, MS (March 2013 - August 2015)

Lecturer, Dept. of Life Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam

BS, General Health Sciences, Minor, Physical Activity & Health, Maastricht University
MS, Health Education & Promotion, Maastricht University
PhD, Social Medicine, University of Amsterdam (February 2013)

L. Aubree Shay, PhD, LCSW, MSSW (February 2014- August 2016)

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health in San Antonio 

BS, Biology, Trinity University
MSSW, Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin
LCSW, Clinical Social Work, State of Texas
PhD, Social & Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University (June 2013)

Aubree+Shay

Timothy Walker

Timothy Walker, PhD (September 2016 - July 2018)

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health

BA, Zoology, Connecticut College
MA, Kinesiology, University of Connecticut
PhD, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health (2016)




Predoc Alumni

Logan Thornton, DrPH, MPH (May 2011 - March 2014)

Assistant Director, Healthcare Transformation Initiatives at UTHealth McGovern Medical School

BA, Spanish, Randolph-Macob Woman's College
MPH, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, George Washington University School of Public Health
DrPH,Health Promotion & Behavioral Science, UTHealth School of Public Health (May 2014)

Logan+Thornton
Emily+Neusel+Ussery

Emily Neusel Ussery, PhD, MPH (September 2013 - May 2015)

Epidemiologist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

BA, Mathematics, Boston College
MPH, UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin
PhD, Epidemiology, UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin (May 2015)

Matthew Koslovsky, PhD (April 2015 - October 2016)

NSF/RTG Postdoctoral Research Associate in Data Science at Rice University

BS, Mathematics, The University of Texas at Austin
PhD, Biostatistics, UTHealth School of Public Health (Dec 2016)

Matthew+Koslovsky
Shelley+Bluethmann

Shelley Bluethmann, PhD, MPH, MA (June 2014 - April 2017)

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Public Health Sciences, Penn State University College of Medicine & Cancer Institute at Hershey, PA

BA, English Language and Literature, University of Michigan
MA, Public Relations, Michigan State University
MPH, Public Health Leadership, University of North Carolina
PhD, Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health (May 2014)

Van T. Nghiem, PhD, MSPH (September 2014 - July 2017)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

BS, Biomedical Electronics, Hanoi University of Science and Technology
MPH, Health Policy, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
PhD, Health Economics, UTHealth School of Public Health (May 2017)

Nghiem
Serena+Rodriguez

Serena A. Rodriguez, PhD, MPH, MA (May 2016 - August 2017)

Postdoctoral Researcher, Dept. of Clinical Sciences, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

BA, Psychology, Rice University
MA, International Service, University of Roehampton
MPH, Health Promotion; Global Health, UTHealth School of Public Health
PhD, Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health (May 2017)

IMG_1354

Natalia Heredia, PhD, MPH (September 2014 - May 2018)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Health Disparities Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

BA, Psycholog & Policy Studies, Rice University
MPH, Health Promotion, Columbia University
PhD, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth School of Public Health (May 2018)