UTHealth – CPRIT Innovation in Cancer Prevention Research Training Program: Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships

Jumpstart your research career in cancer prevention!

Join outstanding doctoral students and postdocs from diverse disciplines in UTHealth Houston, who are committed to a career in cancer prevention research and health equity!

Our program, sponsored by the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas, trains early doctoral and postdoctoral scholars to:

  • ask important questions
  • apply the tools of innovative thinking and cutting-edge research methods
  • engage in trans-disciplinary teams
  • tackle cancer disparities
  • move the field of cancer prevention forward

cprit multi-school diagram

Applicants should have a project focused on cancer prevention, including any of the following:

  • identifying cancer risk factors
  • addressing personal and organizational risk factors and exposures
  • promoting vaccine protection
  • detecting cancer early
  • reducing side effects from treatment
  • supporting cancer survivors

We recruit from the Schools of Bioinformatics, Public Health (all campuses), Biomedical Sciences, and McGovern Medical School. All fellows take part in an integrative seminar in the spring and fall semesters of the fellowship, take short courses from other schools, lead sessions for the summer undergraduate trainees, and work on joint projects.

Cancer Prevention Fields include:

Public health informatics EHR optimization
Economic & policy analysis Intervention design, implementation, & scale-up
Epidemiology & genetics Biomarker discovery
Cancer disparities & community engagement Cancer genomics
Data science & novel informatics approaches Entrepreneurial technology
Digital health technologies Human factors engineering

About Our Funding Agency

The program is generously funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas grant (RP#210042). The CPRIT program was created in 2007 as part of a voter-approved constitutional amendment authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas, and it was renewed in 2021.
You can find out more about CPRIT on their website: https://www.cprit.state.tx.us/ 


Doctoral Fellowships

Seeking applicants committed to a career in cancer prevention research! 

Apply using this form: CPRIT predoctoral application (updated 4-11-2023)

Rating sheet and instructions for recommenders: Rating Sheet

Once completed, send to [email protected]

Members of underrepresented minority groups are highly encouraged to apply.


  • U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and international visa holders
  • Enrolled in the UTHealth School Public Health (all campuses), School of Biomedical Informatics, or Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
  • Residence in Texas during the fellowship

Program Benefits

  • Three years of support, $28,000 stipend (GSBS fellows will be paid at the GSBS level) + student health insurance
  • $1,000 travel expenses for presentations at scientific meetings
  • Tuition and fees, books, software, and laptop/tablet*
  • Training and coaching in innovative thinking Editing and training in compelling oral presentations - Trans-disciplinary research seminars and cross-disciplinary training.

*Additional research expenses should be paid by the mentor.

Doctoral affiliate fellows (with stipend/salary support from employment or other cancer research fellowships) receive the benefits listed above EXCEPT stipend support and student health insurance.

How to apply

To apply, please email your completed application to [email protected].

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions, you can review them in our Applicant FAQ.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Seeking applicants committed to a career in cancer prevention research!

Apply using this form: CPRIT postdoc application (updated 5-16-2023)

Once completed, send to [email protected].

Members of underrepresented minority groups are highly encouraged to apply.

Program Benefits

Full fellowships

  • Two years of support, NRSA level stipend, starting at $56,484 + health insurance
  • $2,000 travel expenses for presentations at scientific meetings
  • Tuition and fees, books, software, and laptop/tablet*
  • Training and coaching in innovative thinking
  • Editing and training in compelling oral presentations - Trans-disciplinary research seminars and cross-disciplinary training.

* Additional research expenses should be paid by mentor.

Affiliate fellowships available for postdocs with salary/stipend support from employment or other cancer fellowships: All benefits listed above except stipend support and health insurance.

How to apply

To apply, please email your completed application to [email protected].

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions, you can review them in our Applicant FAQ.

Innovative Thinking

Take the Massive Open Online Course on Innovative Thinking by Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H., who literally wrote the book(s) on innovation.

books 1books 2

Click on the photo below to see Dr. Ness's TedXHouston talk, "Innovative thinking: Can you be taught?"

Ness Ted Talk 1

Click on the photo below to see Dr. Ness’s TedMed Talk “Reinventing our scientific future

Ness Ted Talk 2

Innovation Generation Tools Definitions

Ness, Roberta B. Innovation Generation: How to Produce Creative and Useful Scientific Ideas. Oxford University Press, 2012.

CPRIT Fellowship Current Trainees

SBMI = School of Biomedical Informatics; SPH = School of Public Health; GSBS = Graduate School of Biomedical Informatics

Current Predoctoral Fellows

Name, Project

School, Department, Mentor

Joseph DeCunha, MS (“Full lineal energy spectrum-based tumor and normal tissue biological effect models for ion therapy”)

GSBS, Department of Radiation Physics (Radhe Mohan)

Taylor Halsey, MS (“Reducing the risk and severity of immune-mediated colitis following treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors”)

GSBS, Department of Genomic Medicine (Robert Jenq)

Mikayla Bowen, MS (“Understanding mitochondrial depletion in Lynch syndrome-related endometrial carcinogenesis provides a novel phenotype with metabolic consequences for screening or preventing endometrial cancer”)

GSBS, Department of Gynecologic Oncology & McGovern Med School (Melinda Yates)

Shiming Zhang, MS (“Occupational and Physical Therapy Services in Pediatric Cancer Survivors”)

SPH, Department of Biostatistics & Data Sciences (Michael Swartz)

Barbara Marquez (“An automated, specialized contour review system for radiotherapy”)

GSBS, Department of Radiation Physics (Laurence Court, PhD)

Kevin Liu (“Selective sparing normal tissue in the gastrointestinal tract in FLASH radiotherapy for both proton and electron beamlines”)

GSBS, Department of Radiation Physics (Emil Schüler, PhD)


Doctoral Alumni by School (Name, Project, Mentor, & Current Position)


Cong Zhu, PhD, MPH - 2021 (“A machine learning based multi-dimensional framework for studying the risk of radiotherapy-induced lymphopenia and its associated survival among esophageal cancer patients”)

Epidemiology, Genetics, & Environmental Sciences (Radhe Mohan, Goo Jun)

Principal Biostatistician


Cambridge, MA


Andrew Aschenbrenner, PhD – 2019 (Moving beyond the single gene: Integrative gene set analysis for RNA-seq)

Biostatistics & Data Science (Yunxin Fu, David Loose)



Paramus, NJ 

Ming Cao, PhD – 2017 (Improved statistical inference for social networks by combining exponential random graph models and latent space models)

Biostatistics & Data Science (Kayo Fujimoto, Yonghui Wu)

Principal Statistician

GoBroad Healthcare Group

Shanghai, China 

Zhou Renke, PhD – 2014 (A flexible semiparametric joint model for semi-completing risks data with missing cause of informative terminal event)

Biostatistics & Data Science (Jing Ning, Melissa Bondy)

Principal Biostatistician


Fort Washington, PA

Ebun O. Ebunlomo, PhD, MPH, MCHES – 2014 (Health promotion, not cancer prevention: Nigerian women and breast health)

Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences (Sheryl McCurdy)

Curriculum Manager of MPH

Clinical Assistant Professor'

Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences

Baylor University

Waco, TX


Xinyuan Zhang, PhD, MS – 2022 (“How to better combine human knowledge with an automatic computer algorithm to improve the overall accuracy and interpretability for skin disease images classification”)

(Cui Tao)


McKinsey & Co


Laila Bekhet, PhD, MSc, MBA – 2021 (“An implementable deep learning based model for predicting clinical events using electronic health records structured data”)

(Degui Zhi)

Assistant Professor

UTHealth, School of Biomedical Informatics

Houston, TX

YuanYuan Liu, PhD, MS – 2020 (Personalized estimation and causal inference via deep learning algorithms)

(Momiao Xiong)

Data Scientist

PROS, Science & Research

Houston, TX

JingCheng Du, PhD – 2019 (VaxInsight: An artificial intelligence system to access large-scale public perceptions on vaccine from social media)

(Cui Tao, Hua Xu)

Director of Natural Language Processing,

Melax Tech

Adjunct Professor

UTHealth, School of Biomedical Informatics

Houston, TX

Zhigo Yu, PhD, MS – 2017 (Understanding PubMed search results using topic models and interactive information visualization)

(George Delclos, Todd Johnson)

Senior Applied Scientist

Relevance Team


Bellevue, WA

Franck Diaz Vasquez Garelli, PhD – 2016 (FAQ DataGauge: A model-driven framework for systematically assessing the quality of clinical data for secondary use)

(Todd Johnson, Elmer Bernstam)

Assistant Professor

Dept of Public Health Sciences

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Charlotte, NC

Sahiti Myneni, PhD, MSE – 2013 (Attributing meaning to online social network analysis for tailored socio-behavioral support systems)

(Trevor Cohen, Kayo Fuijimoto)

Associate Professor and Associate Director for Digital Health and Analytics

UTHealth, School of Biomedical Informatics

Houston, TX


Ruoyu Wang, MS - 2022 (“Mapping 3D epigenome alterations in human Down Syndrome”)

Biochemistry & Cell Biology (Wenbo Li)

Doctoral Student

Brittney Jewell, PhD – 2021 (The role of oxidative phosphorylation in a novel model of iPSC-derived osteosarcomagenesis)

Biochemistry & Cell Biology (Dung-Fang Lee)

Postdoctoral Fellow

Salk Institute for Biological Studies

San Diego, CA

Tristen Tellman – 2021 (Perlecan-Semaphorin 3A-Plexin A1-Neuropilin-1 Complex: Flipping the switch controlling metastatic behavior of prostate cancer cells)

Diagnostic & Biomedical Sciences (Mary C. Farach-Carson)

Science Policy Fellow

American Association for Cancer Research

Dept of Diagnostic & Biomedical Sciences

UTHealth, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Houston, TX

Vinay Nair, PhD, MS – 2021 (“Identifying the structural basis of KRAS-mediated cell proliferation induced by membrane depolarization”)

Diagnostic & Biomedical Sciences (Alemayehu Gorfe, John F. Hancock)

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dept of Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Computational Institute for Applied Cancer Science

MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, TX

Ruoji Zhou, MD, PhD, MS – 2019 (Modeling cancer using Li-Fraumeni Syndrome patient T-derived induced pluripotent stem cells)

Integrative Biology & Pharmacology (Dung-Fang Lee)

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dept of Urology and Pathology

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Chicago, IL

David Savage, MD, PhD – 2018 (UBE4B levels determine the efficacy of EGFR and STAT5 inhibitors in treatment resistant neuroblastoma)

Neuroscience & Cancer Biology (Andrew Bean)

Resident Physician

PGY3 in Internal Medicine and Hematology Fellow

Scripps Health

Moores Cancer Center

University of California

San Diego, CA

Krit Ritthipichai, PhD, DVM, MS – 2016 (Mechanistic and functional characterization of B and T Lymphocyte Attenuator (BTLA) in CD8 tumor infiltrating lymphocytes)

Immunology (Chantale Bernatchez, Roza Nurieva)

Assistant Professor of Microbiology

Dept of Microbiology and Immunology

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

Blacksburg, VA

Jessica Hernandez Chacon, PhD – 2014 (Activating the 4-1BB pathway for the expansion of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes for adoptive T-cell therapy for metastatic melanoma patients)

(Laszlo Radvanyi)

Assistant Professor

Dept of Medical Education

Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

El Paso, TX

Sharangdhar Phatak, PhD – 2012 (Advanced protein modeling method: Benchmarking and applications to computer-aided drug discovery)

Immunology (George Stancel, Shuzing Zhang)


Lab Platforms

Life Biosciences

Cambridge, MA


Postdoctoral Alumni by School (Name, Project, Mentor, & Current Position)


Azam Yazdani, PhD – 2015 (Integrating different types of omicdata to identify robust statistical causal structures and causal inferences)

Human Genetics Center (Eric Boerwinkle, Devika Subramanian, Hao Xu)

Research Scientist

Dept of Anesthesiology, Perioperative & Pain Medicine

Brigham & Women’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Boston, MA

Katherine Hutcheson, PhD – 2013 (High burden of late effects upon entry into head & neck survivorship care)

Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences (Jan Lewin, Kay Bartholomew)


Dept of Head & Neck Surgery

Chief for Speech Pathology & Audiology

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, TX

Hung Luu, MD, PhD, MPH – 2013 (The role of toll-like receptors in cervical dysplasia)

Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences (David Loose, Jennifer Nettleton)

Assistant Professor

Graduate School of Public Health, Dept of Epidemiology

University of Pittsburgh


Cancer Epidemiology & Prevention Program

Hillman Cancer Center

Pittsburg, PA

Jane Richards Montealegre, PhD, MSPH – 2013 (Ethnographic mapping identifies a productive and feasible venue for a community evaluation of self-sample HPV testing with cytology triage among Latina immigrant screening non-attendees in Harris County, Texas)

Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences (Patricia Dolan Mullen, Michael Scheurer)

Assistant Professor and Assistant Director

Community Outreach & Engagement

Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, TX

Heidi Russell, MD, PhD – 2013 (Dose reduction strategies for low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma: Using cost comparisons to help decide between two chemotherapy regimens with similar outcomes)

Management, Policy & Community Health (Luisa Franzini)


Dept of Pediatrics

Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers

Associate Professor

Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, TX

Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, PhD – 2012 (Identifying novel approaches to dietary assessment methods)

Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences (David Loose, Jennifer Nettleton)

Assistant Professor

Dept of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, & Environmental Sciences,

UTHealth School of Public Health

Houston, TX


Hong Kang, PhD – 2019 (Developing a patient safety system for integrated reporting and shared learning)

(Yang Gong, Jing Wang)

Senior Applied Scientist

Natural Language Processing

Pieces Technologies

Dallas, TX

Mary McGuire, PhD, MS – 2013 (Cancer and embryogenesis share common pathways at the molecular level)

(Robert Brown, Gino Lim)

Senior Information Technology Project Manager

MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, TX


Natalie Sirisaengtaksin, PhD – 2020 (Engineering bacterial products as a cancer therapy delivery system)

Biomedical Sciences (Anne-Marie Krachler)

Program Manager, Academic Affairs

MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth, 

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Houston, TX

Zhao Zhang, PhD – 2020 (“Connecting cancer biomarkers to genetic variants in human cancers”)

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (Leng Han)

Assistant Professor (PI)

Fudan University

Shanghai, China

Jing Gong, MD, PhD – 2018 (Characterization of the functional effects of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in lncRNAs across human cancers)

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (Leng Han)


Biomedical Informatics

Huazhong Agricultural University, College of Informatics

Wuhan, China 

Jingjing Jiao, MD, PhD – 2017 (Molecular characteristics of high prevalence of Hepatocellular carcinoma and underlying liver disease in Hispanics)

MD Anderson Cancer Center (Laura Beretta)

Pathology Resident

Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Residency Training Program

Yale New Haven Hospital,

New Haven, CT

Sara Prijic, PhD, DVM – 2017 (Breast cancer metastasis: What does cholesterol have to do with it?) 

Integrative Biology & Pharmacology (Jeffrey Chang, Wendy Woodward)

Senior Scientist

Alkermes Inc.

Waltham, MA

Meng Chen, PhD – 2012 (Pathway analysis of bladder cancer genome-wide association study identified novel pathways involved in bladder cancer development)

Integrative Biology & Pharmacology (Xifeng Wu, George Delclos)

Associate Professor and Dept Chair

Dept of Clinical Laboratories

Peeking Union Medical College, National Cancer Center/Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences

Beijing, China


Joo-Hyung Lee, PhD – 2022 (“Tumorigenic function of cancer-type specific eRNA”)

McGovern Medical School, Dept of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (Wenbo Li)

Senior Scientist

Genomic Profiling Team at Vesalius Therapeutics

Cambridge, MA


Hidetaka Tanno, PhD – 2020 (One-step high-throughput identification of antibody/TCR sequences)

UT Austin School of Engineering (George Georgiou, Gregory Ippolito, Andrew Ellington)

Project Leader

Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science

Tokyo, Japan

Arzu Ulu, PhD – 2018 (Identification of novel targets in breast cancer metastasis and tumorigenesis) McGovern Medical School, Dept of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology (Jeffrey Frost)

Assistant Project Scientist

University of California

Riverside, CA

Zhenlong Li, PhD, MS – 2015 (A multiscale computational platform for the rational design of folate-receptor-specific drug nanocarriers) McGovern Medical School (Alamayehu Gorfe, David Gorenstein, David Loose)

VP Data Scientist Lead

JPMorgan Chase & Co.


Contact us

For more information regarding the fellowship, please email [email protected], or call 713.500.9658. Patricia Dolan Mullen, Co-Director.

Photo of, from left to right: Dr. Maria Fernandez, Dr. Cui Toa, Dr. Patricia Dolan Mullen, and Dr. Natalie Sirisaengtaksin.

Program Director

Maria E. Fernández, PhD
Lorne Bain Distinguished Professor in Public Health and Medicine
Director, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research
Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health
Director, Texas Prevention Research Center

Program Co-Directors

Patricia Dolan Mullen, DrPH, MLS
The University of Texas System Distinguished Teaching Professor
President’s Scholar
Minnie Stevens Piper Professor

Cui Tao, PhD
Professor of Bioinformatics
Director of the UTHealth Center for Biomedical Semantics and Data Intelligence
The Dr. Doris L. Ross Professorship
Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipient

Natalie Sirisaengtaksin, PhD
Program Manager, Academic Affairs
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Executive Committee 

Alanna Morrison, PhD - Prof & Chair, Dept of Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sci; Director, Ctr for Human Genetics (SPH) Hua Xu, PhD - Robert H. Graham Prof in Entrepreneurial Biomedical Informatics & Bioengineering; Director, Ctr for Computational Biomedicine; CPRIT Scholar (SBMI)
Belinda Reininger, DrPH - Prof, Dept of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sci; Dean, Brownsville Campus (SPH) Xiaoqian Jiang, PhD - Prof & Director, Ctr for Secure Artificial intelligence for Healthcare; CPRIT Rising Star (SBMI)
George Delclos, MD, PhD - Prof, Dept of Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sci; Director, Employee Health Clinic (SPH) Zhiqiang An, PhD - Prof, Molecular Medicine; Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry; Director, Texas Therapeutic Institute (Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine), McGovern Med School (GSBS)
Elmer Bernstam, MD, MSE - Prof of Biomedical Informatics & Internal Medicine (McGovern Med School) & GSBS; SBMI Assoc Dean for Research; Director, CCTS Biomedical Informatics Group Michael Blackburn, PhD - Exec VP & Chief Academic Officer, UTHealth; GSBS Dean & John P. McGovern Distinguished Prof of Biomedical Sci; Prof & William S. Kilroy, Sr. Distinguished University Chair in Pulmonary Disease , McGovern Med School
Shine Chang, PhD - UT System Distinguished Teaching Prof & Ashbel Smith Prof, Dept of Epidemiology; Director, Cancer Prevention Research Training Prog (UT MDA Cancer Ctr)  Melissa Aldrich, PhD – Asst Prof, Ctr for Molecular Imaging, McGovern Med School

Cancer Prevention Innovation Scholars

Daniel Harrington, PhD (GSBS)

Sahiti Myneni, PhD, MSE (SBMI)

Ross Shegog, PhD (SPH)

Lead Coordinators

Melissa Valerio, PhD, MPH (SPH)

Susan Fenton, PhD (SBMI)

Raquel Y. Salinas, PhD (GSBS)

Angela Ross, DNP, MPH (SBMI)