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CCHE Contact & Staff Bios

Center for Cancer Health Equity
National Cancer Institute
9609 Medical Center Drive, MSC 9746
Sixth Floor, West Tower
Rockville, MD 20850
Office Phone: 240-276-6170
Office Fax: 240-276-7862


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Staff Contacts by Offices & Branches

Office of the Director

Name Email & Office Phone Number Office Room
Sanya A. Springfield, Ph.D.
(240) 276-6170

H. Nelson Aguila, D.V.M.
Deputy Director
(240) 276-6170

Shadab Hussain, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-5458
Dionne Burt
Program Analyst
(240) 276-6174

Brian Davis
Communications Manager
(240) 276-5677
Janice Jeter, B.A. (C)
Program Analyst
(240) 276-6245

Dawn Reid (C)
Program Specialist
(240) 276-7689

Scott Rosas, Ph.D. (C)
(240) 276-6170

Community Outreach, Research, and Engagement Branch (CORE)

Name Email & Office Phone Number Office Room
LeeAnn Bailey, M.B.B.S, Ph.D., M.S.
Branch Director
(240) 276-5337

Maria Jamela (Jay) R. Revilleza, Ph.D., M.Sc.
Program Director
(240) 620-0616
Whitney (Barfield) Steward, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-5729
Sandra L. San Miguel-Majors, Dr.P.H., M.S.
Program Director
(240) 276-5977

Sarah M. Szurek, Ph.D. (C)
Program Director
(240) 276-6170
Anil Wali, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-6183

Molly Boyajian (C)
Program Analyst
(240) 276-6248


Disparities Research Branch (DRB)

Name Email & Office Phone Number Office Room
Tiffany Wallace, Ph.D.
Branch Director
(240) 276-5114

Melissa Smarr, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-5304
Neeraja Sathyamoorthy, Ph.D. (C)
Program Director
(240) 276-6170

Victoria Coan
Program Analyst
(240) 276-7659

Gatikrushna Panigrahi, Ph.D.
(240) 760-7584

Diversity Training and Biomedical Workforce Development Branch (DTBWDB)

Name Email & Office Phone Number Office Room

Behrous Davani, Ph.D.
Branch Director
(240) 276-5677
Dan Eckstein, M.A. (C)
Program Director
(240) 276-7024
Chantel Fuqua, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-7990
Sangeeta Ghosh, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-5065
Jason Liu, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-6253

JoBeth McCarthy, D.H.Sc.(c), M.P.H. (C)
Program Director
(240) 276-6478
Laritza M. Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-5969
Fulera Salami, M.P.H.
Health Specialist
(240) 276-7192
Shahrooz Vahedi, Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-7754

Rita LaPointe, M.B.A
Program Analyst
(240) 276-5099


Innovative Programs Branch (IPB)

Name Email & Office Phone Number Office Room
Jessica Calzola, Ph.D., P.M.P.
Interim Acting Branch Director
(240) 276-7474

Gregory Adams, Jr. M.S., Ph.D.
Program Director
(240) 276-5395
Katelyn Garfinkel, M.B.A.
Program Specialist
(240) 276-6933

(C) indicates contract staff

Staff Bios

Office of the Director

Sanya A. Springfield (Ph.D.) – Director

Sanya A. Springfield is Director of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI's) Center for Cancer Health Equity (CCHE) where she supports programs, initiatives, and activities to spawn cancer health disparities research, increase workforce diversity and create networks for community outreach, education and engagement. Within NCI, Dr. Springfield is a member of the Scientific Program Leadership (SPL) where she champions the need for continued investment for diversity training and education programs and to reduce cancer health disparities.

Previously, Dr. Springfield was Branch Director of the NCI Diversity Training Branch, where she conceived, implemented and oversaw the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program. Utilizing a unique, holistic, training pipeline approach, CURE seeks to increase the number of competitive cancer researchers from racial and ethnically diverse, and other underserved populations. Dr. Springfield expanded the CURE program, launching a middle school program as part of a CURE early intervention strategy and an Intramural CURE (iCURE) program aimed at enhancing the diversity of the NCI intramural research workforce. Prior to this, Dr. Springfield had expanded the diversity training landscape through the creation and implementation of the Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE). PACHE aims to improve the cancer research infrastructure at institutions serving underserved health disparity populations and underrepresented students (ISUPS) and enhance the ability of NCI-Designated Cancer Centers to address cancer health disparities in their communities.  

Dr. Springfield serves on a variety of trans-NCI and trans-NIH scientific and programmatic committees focused on disparities research, workforce diversity, and inclusive excellence, including the NCI’s Equity Council and the NIH Common Fund’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program Working Group Coordinators. For her vision and leadership in promoting diversity in biomedical research, Dr. Springfield was honored with the NIH Director’s Award and the NCI Director’s Award. Dr. Springfield also serves as a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council and the Science Education and Career Development Committee, and played a vital role in establishing the annual The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.

Dr. Springfield received her Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from Howard University and was the third African-American neuroscientist in the world. After completing her postdoctoral studies at the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, she joined the faculty at City College of New York. Dr. Springfield left the academic ranks to serve as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, and then, entered NIH as a Grants Associate after which she joined the NCI.

H. Nelson Aguila (D.V.M.) – Deputy Director

H. Nelson Aguila is Deputy Director of NCI’s CCHE. In this capacity, Dr. Aguila plays a central role in coordinating the day-to-day functions of the Center and development of strategic planning, priority-setting and management of CCHE’s disparities research, diversity training, and community education/outreach efforts.

Previously, Dr. Aguila served as Branch Director of CCHE's Diversity Training Branch. Prior to coming to NIH, Dr. Aguila worked at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Reviewer Toxicologist at the Center for Veterinary Medicine. Earlier in his career, Dr. Aguila held senior research scientist positions in neuropathology at the University of Miami and later in cancer gene therapy at Aventis-Gencell.

Dr. Aguila earned his doctor of veterinary medicine degree at Austral University in Chile and trained as a neurobiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Shadab Hussain (Ph.D) – Program Director

Dr. Shadab Hussain joined the CCHE Office of the Director as a Program Director in December 2022. She is part of the team contributing to the Center’s overall evaluation efforts and supporting the administration and programmatic management of the NIH Common Fund’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program.

Prior to NCI, Dr. Hussain joined NCATS in 2020 as a Presidential Management Fellow in the Education Branch. In this capacity, she assisted with different projects of the Education Branch such as programming course evaluation surveys, conducting statistical analysis for research reports, and contributing to translational science education research. During her fellowship, she completed a six-month rotation at the NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity office supporting NIH-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) initiatives and programs. She also contributed to NCATS-wide DEIA initiatives through participation in the Health Disparities Working Group and supporting Center-wide initiatives as a DEIA strategist.

Dr. Hussain received her doctorate in developmental and psychological sciences from the Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE). For her dissertation, she examined the role of bicultural identity development in the psychological and academic outcomes of South Asian College students. She also assisted on research projects focusing on the socioemotional outcomes of American Indian/Alaska Native secondary school students.

Community Outreach, Research, and Engagement Branch (CORE)

LeeAnn Bailey (M.B.B.S, Ph.D., M.S.) – Branch Director

LeeAnn Bailey is Branch Director of the Integrated Networks Branch of the NCI’s CCHE since 2016. In this role, she manages, develops, and assesses strategies for enhancing the integration and dissemination of diversity training, women’s health, and sexual and gender minority efforts within and across NCI, as well as within the scientific community and underserved communities through NCI-supported networks. She also identifies and leverages opportunities to address unmet needs in cancer health disparities research.

Prior to joining NCI, she was a healthcare consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP. She has also been a principal investigator researching tissue engineered products and cellular inflammatory responses at the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as an adjunct professor at Morgan State University.

Dr. Bailey received her M.B.B.S (M.D. equivalent) from the University of Adelaide Medical School with an emphasis on aboriginal health and pediatric oncology. Dr. Bailey also has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and a M.S. in Biological and Physical Sciences from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

Maria Jamela (Jay) R. Revilleza (Ph.D., M.Sc.) – Program Director

Dr. Maria Jamela (Jay) R. Revilleza joined the Integrated Networks Branch of the NCI’s CCHE as Program Director in February 2021. She is involved in projects related to cancer research and cancer disparities for integrated research, training and outreach network programs.

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Revilleza was a Health Science Policy Analyst at the Tribal Health Research Office, Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Director, and earlier, a Scientific Program Analyst at Division for Research Capacity Building, National Institute of General Medical Sciences. She initially joined the NIH as a postdoc at the Molecular Biology Section of the Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. A former academician, she was an Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the Philippines (UP) and professorial lecturer at American University.

She received her PhD in Agricultural Chemistry from UP, with a Fulbright dissertation and MCBN-UNESCO grants at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Master’s Degree in Food Science (Biochemistry minor) and an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from UP Los Baños.

Whitney (Barfield) Steward (Ph.D.) – Program Director

Dr. Whitney (Barfield) Steward is a Program Director in the Integrated Networks Branch of the NCI’s CCHE since August 2021. Before joining NCI, she completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University in the Behavioral Genetics of Addiction Laboratory, coordinating a multi-site, University-based study that examined both behavioral and genetic risks for substance use development in young adults. Prior to that, Dr. Steward worked as a Program Officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science, supporting strategies to accelerate the integration of evidence-based genomic discoveries into clinical and public health settings. Dr. Steward entered the extramural workforce as a S&T Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Office of Research on Women’s Health, where she helped to manage the office’s minority health and health disparities research portfolio.

Dr. Steward completed her first postdoctoral fellowship at Children's National Health System, where she performed genetic profiling and developed fitness tracking applications for home monitoring in children with metabolic conditions. Dr. Barfield received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Howard University.

Sandra L. San Miguel-Majors (Dr.P.H., M.S.) – Program Director

Dr. Sandra L. San Miguel-Majors is a Program Director in the Integrated Networks Branch of the NCI’s CCHE since 2016. In this role, Dr. San Miguel-Majors contributes to the grants management of the to the National Outreach Network program. 

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. San Miguel-Majors served in academia, holding faculty positions at the Dept. of Medicine - Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas and at the Department of Biology and International Studies at Trinity University. Her expertise is in developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based, culturally sensitive behavioral interventions among racially/ethnically diverse populations within the U.S. and Latin America, with an emphasis on Latino cancer health disparities, patient navigation, recruitment into clinical trials/biorepositories, breast cancer genetic testing, and survivorship.

Dr. San Miguel-Majors received her Dr.P.H. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her M.S. in counseling psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of the Incarnate Word.

Sarah M. Szurek (Ph.D.) (C) – Program Director

Sarah M. Szurek is an applied medical anthropologist and community-engaged researcher who joined the Integrated Networks Branch of NCI’s CCHE in 2022. As a Health Scientist Administrator, Dr. Szurek contributes to the CCHE mission to integrate and disseminate research, training, and outreach programs on a national level through NCI-supported networks.

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Szurek held a faculty position within the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. She also served as Director of the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement at the UF Health Cancer Center. Her past research and teaching experience spans a range of contexts—from social exclusion and diabetes risk among Mexican immigrants in the U.S., structural racism and heart disease among African Americans, Indigenous health in New Zealand, and intersectional cancer disparities among Black, Hispanic/Latinx, rural, and persistent poverty communities in Florida.

Dr. Szurek was awarded her BA in Anthropology with a Linguistics minor at the State University of New York, College at Geneseo. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology with a concentration in biocultural medical anthropology at the University of Alabama. Dr. Szurek received postdoctoral training in medical anthropology and public health at the University of Florida.

Anil Wali (Ph.D.) – Program Director

Anil Wali is a Program Director in the Integrated Networks Branch of the NCI’s CCHE since 2009. In this role, Dr. Wali contributes to the grants management of CCHE’s Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program. He also provides technical and scientific expertise to the Comprehensive Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (CPACHE U54) program.

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Wali served as Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Pathology at the NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit Michigan. While at Wayne State University, Dr. Wali served as Principal Investigator on a Veterans Administration Merit Review award funded project on the Role of Ubiquitin-Proteasome Pathway in Mesothelioma Carcinogenesis. Dr. Wali conducted NCI Clinical trial on asbestos exposed patient populations to determine their risk for developing Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma using high throughput Genomics and Proteomics technologies.

Dr. Wali received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Kashmir, in Srinagar, India. He earned his Ph.D. at the Postgraduate Institute in Chandigarh, India. Dr. Wali completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute for Environmental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; at the FELS Institute for Cancer Research at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; and in the Department of Pathology at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.

Disparities Research Branch (DRB)

Tiffany Wallace (Ph.D.) – Branch Director

Dr. Wallace is a Branch Director at the NCI within CCHE. In this role, she serves as the Lead for the Disparities and Equity Program (DEP) and works to coordinate and strengthen NCI’s overall cancer disparity research portfolio, encompassing basic, clinical, translational, and population-based research. Additionally, Dr. Wallace oversees a portfolio of grant mechanisms promoting basic/translational cancer research and develops initiatives to stimulate research in underfunded areas.

Prior to joining the CCHE, Dr. Wallace was an Oncology Scientist at Human Genome Sciences, where she managed clinically relevant research programs and conducted preclinical development of promising cancer therapeutics.

Dr. Wallace received her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. She completed her postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis at NCI, where she conducted basic and translational research to identify biomarkers of aggressive prostate and breast cancer.

Melissa Smarr (Ph.D.) – Program Director

Melissa Smarr (Judd-Smarr) joined CCHE in January 2024 as a Program Director working with the Disparities and Equity Program and supporting the administration and programmatic management of the NIH Common Fund’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program.

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Smarr was a Program Official at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). In this capacity, she was the program lead for the Maintaining and Enriching Environmental Epidemiology Cohorts to Support Scientific and Workforce Diversity R24/U24 and supported a broad research portfolio including reproductive and metabolic health; environmental epidemiology; and environmental health disparities and environmental justice. Additionally, Dr. Smarr supported the Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) and Transformative Research to Address Health Disparities and Advance Health Equity initiatives; the HHS Environmental Justice Working Group; and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy’s National Science and Technology Council Environmental Justice Subcommittee.

Prior to joining NIEHS, Dr. Smarr was a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in the Gangarosa Department of Environmental Health at Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.

Dr. Smarr received her doctorate in Environmental Health Sciences (Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology) from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), followed by a Research Fellow position in the NICHD Office of the Director.

Neeraja Sathyamoorthy (Ph.D.) (C) – Program Director

Dr. Sathyamoorthy is a Program Director in NCI's CCHE, working in the Disparities and Equity Program. In this role, she has been involved in different programs focused on advancing basic and translational disparities research, as well as an R56 program and the Cancer Moonshot Scholars program.

Prior to joining CCHE, Dr. Sathyamoorthy was a Program Director in NCI's Division of Cancer Biology for 22 years. Her areas of expertise includes hormone-dependent cancers, tumor biology, tumor microenvironment, tumor metastasis, cancer cell metabolism, glycobiology of tumors, and the progression to drug resistance in prostate and breast cancers.

Dr. Sathyamoorthy received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Botany and Zoology and her Master’s degree in Biochemistry from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India. She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from Madras University, India. Dr. Sathyamoorthy completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for NCI's intramural program from 1987-1999, when she joined NCI's extramural program.

Diversity Training and Biomedical Workforce Development Branch (DTBWDB)

Behrous Davani (Ph.D.) – Branch Director

Behrous Davani, PhD, is Branch Director of the Diversity Training Branch of the NCI’s CCHE since 2022. In this capacity, he plays a central role in the strategic planning of the branch and program implementation to enhance workforce diversity in cancer research. Dr. Davani oversees the management of the NCI’s diversity-focused training programs, including the extramural Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program.

Prior to his appointment as Branch Director, Dr. Davani served as a Program Director in the Division for Research Capacity Building, National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), where he oversaw the IDeA Regional Entrepreneurship Development Program and managed grants for the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, Science Education Partnership Awards, and Native American Research Centers for Health Programs. Before his time at NIGMS, Dr. Davani was a Program Director in NCI’s CCHE, during which time he led the development, implementation, and management of various programs that address cancer health disparities. In this capacity, Dr. Davani managed, co-managed, or coordinated multiple CURE programs, Comprehensive Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (CPACHE U54) partnerships, and the PACHE Feasibility Studies to Build Collaborative Partnerships in Cancer Research (P20) program, among others.

Prior to first joining NCI, Dr. Davani served as a Scientific Review Manager in the Peer Review Science and Management Division of SRA International. While at SRA, he oversaw and managed the scientific review process for multiple research programs, including breast, ovarian, and lung cancer, for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. He received his PhD in molecular endocrinology from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dr. Davani is committed to developing innovative research and educational programs to advance health equity and promote diversity in biomedical research.

Dan Eckstein (M.A.) – Program Director

Dan Eckstein is a Program Director in the Diversity Training Branch (DTB) of NCI’s CCHE since April 2023. Mr. Eckstein is a Program Director on several programs including the Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP) and the R13 Conference Grant mechanism.

Prior to joining DTB, Mr. Eckstein served as the Vice President for Health Communications and Education for NOVA Research Company (now Lumina Corps) where he and his team supported numerous communications contracts across NIH and within other HHS agencies. In addition, Mr. Eckstein was the Principal Investigator on several NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects related to the development of health communication and health education products.

Mr. Eckstein earned a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his Master of Arts degree in Public Communication from American University focusing on health communication.

Chantel F. Fuqua (Ph.D.) – Program Director

Dr. Chantel Fuqua has been a Program Director in the Diversity Training Branch of the NCI’s CCHE since March 2023. Dr. Fuqua supports Diversity Supplements and the NIH Common Fund's Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program.

Before joining NCI, Dr. Fuqua worked as a Program Director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where she managed a National Science Foundation-funded STEM education portfolio focused on broadening participation in science, workforce diversity, and inclusive pedagogy at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral level. Prior to that, Dr. Fuqua worked as a Director of Faculty and Educational Initiatives at the Association of American Medical Colleges, where she managed the Minority Faculty Leadership Development Seminar, Mid-Career Faculty Leadership Development Seminar, Grant Writers Coaching Workshop for National Institutes of Health Awards, and previously led a pilot program at seven academic medical centers focused on holistic review for faculty recruitment and retention to increase faculty diversity. In addition, Dr. Fuqua served as a 2016-2018 AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for STEM Education, supporting the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. Dr. Fuqua also has experience teaching biology, biochemistry, and chemistry at various types of higher education institutions, most recently at the University of Maryland Global Campus. Before arriving at AAAS, Dr. Fuqua oversaw and managed several programs as a health science analyst at Leidos, providing scientific, evaluation, and technical support to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, in the management of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and other federal scientific programs.

Dr. Fuqua received her B.S. in Chemistry from Saint Louis University and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Meharry Medical College.

Sangeeta Ghosh (Ph.D.) – Program Director

Dr. Ghosh is a Program Director in the Diversity Training Branch of NCI’s CCHE since December 2022. In this role, Dr. Ghosh manages NCI Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21), Youth Enjoy Science Research Education Program (R25), and Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31 - Diversity) programs for NCI.

Prior to joining NCI’s CCHE, Dr. Ghosh served as Scientific Review Manager at GDIT, supporting peer review of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). While at GDIT, Dr. Ghosh oversaw the peer review process of biomedical applications submitted in basic and clinical research areas for research programs, including the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and Ovarian Cancer Research Program of CDMRP. She was also responsible for planning, coordinating, directing, and implementing all tasks to conduct the scientific and technical merit of applications submitted for review.

Before joining GDIT, Dr. Ghosh was a Scientific Manager at Leidos supporting programmatic review of CDMRP, where she was involved in managing pre-application reviews, programmatic reviews, and business meetings of CDMRP’s biomedical research programs.

Dr. Ghosh received her Ph.D. in Biotechnology from Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi, India. After completing her postdoctoral studies at the University of Virginia, she joined as a faculty at UT Health Science Center San Antonio, where she developed translational projects focused on understanding the effect of exercise on diabetes, aging, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases.

Jiexin (Jason) Liu (Ph.D., M.B.A, M.S.) – Program Director

Jason Liu is a Program Director in Office of the Director of the NCI’s CCHE since 2013. In this role, Dr. Liu contributes to the identification of performance measures, design of data collection instruments, and conducts analyses to evaluate the impact of CCHE-funded programs aimed at reducing cancer health disparities and increasing biomedical workforce diversity. In addition, Dr. Liu contributes to the grants management of CCHE’s Research Conference Awards (R13).

Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Liu served as a CCHE onsite contractor as biostatistician and program evaluation researcher conducting program evaluation.

Dr. Liu received his Ph.D. in health services research, policy, and administration from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. He earned his M.S. in chemistry and M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Liu completed his B.S. in pharmacy from the Shenyang College of Pharmacy in China.

JoBeth McCarthy (D.H.Sc.(c), M.P.H., CPH) (C) – Program Director

Ms. McCarthy is a Health Scientist Administrator in the Diversity Training Branch of NCI's CCHE since 2022. She contributes to CCHE in her role supporting the Early Investigator Advancement Program (EIAP) and Diversity Supplements.

Prior to joining CCHE, Ms. McCarthy served as the health equity and public health subject matter expert and operations analyst for a minority-owned public health consulting firm. Her work involved supporting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, and the President's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, as well as conducting research, policy analysis and workforce training to eliminate unintended consequences resulting from public health policies and practices.

Ms. McCarthy is a doctoral student in Health Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, with a focus on the impacts of correctional policy on sexual health inequalities. She received her M.P.H. and B.S. degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Laritza M. Rodriguez (M.D., Ph.D.) – Program Director

Dr. Laritza Rodriguez is a Program Director in the NCI Center for Cancer Health Equity since 2021. In this capacity, Dr. Rodriguez manages NCI Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21), Comprehensive Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (CPACHE U54) programs, and Minority Health and Health Disparities (MHHD) Coding and Data Processing addressing cancer health disparities and minority health.

Prior to joining CCHE, Dr. Rodriguez served as a Staff Scientist at the Lister Hill Center at the National Library of Medicine. There, she contributed her clinical expertise to projects including drug analytics and annotation of multiple collections of radiology reports, clinical narratives and consumer questions for biomedical concepts and relations. She has also leveraged her clinical knowledge from 15 years as a practicing obstetrician gynecologist to apply machine learning techniques and data analysis of the biomedical literature, with a focus on maternal morbidity and mortality.

Dr. Rodriguez earned her medical degree from the Universidad del Rosario, Hospital de San Jose School of Medicine in Bogota, Colombia. She received the degree as Obstetrician Gynecologist from the same institution. Dr. Rodriguez is certified Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist through postdoctoral training from John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, MO. She received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Utah School of Medicine, where her dissertation focused on machine learning applied to labor and delivery data.

Fulera Salami (M.P.H.) – Health Specialist

Fulera Salami is a Health Specialist in the Diversity Training Branch of NCI’s CCHE since January 2023. In her role, she contributes to CCHE’s programs promoting workforce diversity in cancer research and supports administrative and programmatic management of Diversity Supplements.

Prior to joining CCHE, Fulera served as a Public Health Analyst and a Project Officer with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Office of Epidemiology and Research, Division of Research. At HRSA, Fulera managed maternal and child health research grants and cooperative agreements aimed at improving the health and well-being of American mothers and their children and led numerous other programs. Her areas of interest include global health, quality and access to health care, disease prevention, health disparities, and environmental health.

Fulera is a DrPH student in the Global Health, Policy and Evaluation concentration at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH). She received her M.P.H. from the University of Illinois, Springfield, IL. Fulera is an Army veteran.

Shahrooz Vahedi (Ph.D.) – Program Director

Dr. Shahrooz Vahedi is a Program Director in the Diversity Training Branch (DTB) of the Center for Cancer Health Equity (CCHE) since September 2022. He primarily oversees and manages K01 and K22 career development awards.

Prior to joining CCHE, he was a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) at the Immunology and Infectious Diseases A (IIDA) review branch at the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), organizing the Innate Immunity and Inflammation (III) study section.

Dr. Vahedi received his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Sciences and completed his post-PhD training as an NCI intramural fellow. His primary research interest was focused on defining the role of Lymphocyte Specific Tyrosine Kinase (LCK) in cancer development and progression.

Innovative Programs Branch (IPB)

Jessica M. Calzola (Ph.D.) – Interim Acting Branch Director

Jessica M. Calzola is a Program Director in the Office of the Director of the NCI’s CCHE since 2019. In this role, Dr. Calzola is the lead Program Director for the Intramural Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (iCURE) program. iCURE supports mentored research experiences for qualified students and scientists from diverse backgrounds in the multidisciplinary NCI research environment. Dr. Calzola’s commitment for training comes from the mentorship she received as part of the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP) in the summer of 2007. Dr. Calzola is an integral member of the trans-NIH team for the NIH Common Fund Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program, which aims to enhance and maintain cultures of inclusive excellence in the biomedical research community. She is the Program Official named on the FIRST Cohort awards

Prior to joining CCHE, Dr. Calzola was a Program Manager with Leidos, supporting the Army’s Medical Research Program in Systems Biology at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD. Dr. Calzola also had a previous role providing project and program management support to the Congressionally Directed Research Program, specifically the Parkinson’s Research Program and the Joint Program Committee-6/Combat Casualty Care Research Program. In these roles she helped recruit, coordinate and execute programmatic review meetings and other program requirements.

Dr. Calzola earned her B.S. in biochemistry from Juniata College, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate she was selected for the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program. In this program she conducted basic research for a summer at NCI. Dr. Calzola then went on to get her Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics from Rutgers University, NJ. Her postdoctoral training was done in the Proteomic section of the Laboratory of Systems Biology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where she worked on modeling toll-like receptor 4 signaling.

Gregory Adams, Jr. (Ph.D., M.S.) – Program Director

Gregory Adams, Jr. is a Program Director in the Office of the Director of the NCI’s CCHE since 2021. In this role, his primary responsibility is program management for the Intramural Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (iCURE) program.

Prior to joining CCHE, Dr. Adams was an Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Fellow at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) under Dr. Clare Waterman, where he studied and surveyed the organization of organelles and actin regulatory proteins mediating Leader Bleb Based Migration of cancer cells in non-adhesive confined environments mediating the microenvironment. As a Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Fellow, Dr. Adams joined the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE), where he helped to expand the number of disadvantaged students interested in health disparities-focused biomedical and health care careers through training opportunities to explore the scientific enterprise.

Dr. Adams earned his B.S. in Biology from Morehouse College. He received both his Master’s in Biomedical Research—where he studied colorectal cancer and adenomas under Dr. Felix Aikhionbare—and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science in Physiology—where he studied cytoskeleton interactions to facilitate breast cancer cell migration under Dr. Xuebiao Yao—from Morehouse School of Medicine. He is a member of the American Society for Cell Biology and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), as well as AACR's Minorities in Cancer Research.

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