Current CCQTP Student Profiles

See Past CCQTP Student Profiles

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Katherine Cools

Name: Katherine Cools
Post-Doctoral

Educational Background:
Zoology, Biomedical Science, University of Oklahoma 2004-2009
MD, University of Oklahoma 2009-2013

Prior Work Experience:
2013 – Present:
Resident, UNC Department of Surgery, Chapel Hill, NC

Professional Interests:
Quality of life in hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) cancers.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
The Cancer Care Quality Training program offered me the ability to pursue research in a collaborative fashion at UNC. It has also allowed me the opportunity to partner with not only my surgical faculty at UNC but other clinicians and researchers on campus. With this program, I am also able to pursue my Master of Science in Clinical Research in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
I have been blessed with a rich clinical experience at UNC hospitals as a General Surgery Resident and I look forward to pursuing and extending my research interest onto the UNC campus side.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
Collaboration is key!

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?

It allows me to work on my clinical research projects while also helping further develop research skills.

Describe a typical term.
This is my first term at the CCQTP. I am doing course work towards my Master of Science in Clinical Research in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. I am also working on various clinical research projects.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
I enjoy the freedom the program gives to allow me to explore various research topics while still giving me the support needed to be an effective scientist.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
The faculty are always willing to help give guidance in research projects, questions and career goals.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
There is a lot of flexibility in my work schedule allowing me the ability to shift my schedule around for work, school and home life.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
Giving me tools to become an effective clinical researcher.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
This is a great program that will help you grow your research interest and will give you enriched collaborative experience.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
After the CCQTP, I will finish my last two clinical years of general surgery training at UNC. I hope to pursue a fellowship in hepatopancreaticobiliary (HPB) surgery after residency. Ultimately, I want be an attending HPB surgeon and clinical researcher at an academic center.


Matthew Dixon

Matthew Dixon

Name: Matthew Dixon
Post-Doctoral
Expected Graduation: Summer 2018

Educational Background:
BS, Pharmaceutical Science, The Ohio State University, 2011
PharmD, The Ohio State University, 2015
PhD student in Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, UNC, 2015-Present

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
The program has a very collaborative environment, which will allow me to work with clinical and methodological experts on multidisciplinary cancer outcomes research projects. Having the opportunity to generate ideas and assembling the expertise needed to carry out the research plan will be vital to my growth as an independent researcher. I am also attracted to the access to cousework within the program, which will allow me to broaden my research methodology knowledge.

Why are you interested in cancer care and cancer care quality?
I want to help eliminate some of the existing knowledge gaps in cancer care and quality through high-quality,
innovative comparative effectiveness research. Ultimately, I hope that my research is able to add to the evidence base that will improve patient and provider decision-making during the course of cancer care.

Who are your mentors/preceptors, and why did you select them?
My mentors are Stacie Dusetzina, Jennifer Elston Lafata, and Hanna Sanoff. I selected these 3 mentors due to their methodological and clincial expertise in cancer outcomes research.

What is one professional goal you hope to achieve within the next five years? How will your involvement in this fellowship help you achieve that goal?
I plan to pursue a tenure-track assistant professor position at an academic research institution. My goal is to obtain extramural funding to create a research program that will continue my work in the field of cancer outcomes. I believe that the CCQTP training and mentorship will increase the quality and diversity of my research publications, which will allow me to become more competitive for extramural funding and tenure-track positions.

What are your research interests? Will you be working on these during your time in this fellowship?
My research interests focus on the comparative effectiveness of chemotherapy and biologic agents in colorectal cancer through the application of pharmacoepidemiologic methods. I will use my time during this fellowship to advance my training and research in this area, as well as undertaking projects in the areas of pharmacoeconomics and pharmaceutical policy to broaden my training and research.

What is the best piece of professional advice you have received to date?
To not get lost in the research process and to always remember the motive for why you became a
researcher in the first place. Stay active and engaged in talks and seminars to help with your idea
generation, as well as being able to share your passion for research with other scientists.

How do you manage your time, and achieve a work—school—family balance?
I try to stick to a strict schedule during the week, which allows me to have free time during the
weekends to spend with my wife.

What is an interesting facet of your personality that is not readily known? (e.g. what hobby do you
have that no one would suspect?)
My main hobby is lifting weights. It’s a good stress reliever that helps me stay focused on my research projects and class.


Alecia Slade

Alecia Slade

Name: Alecia Slade
Pre-Doctoral
Expected Graduation: Spring 2018

Educational Background:
BA, Sociology, UNC Chapel Hill, 2006
MSW, UNC Chapel Hill, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

Prior Work Experience:
2008 – 2009: Program Coordinator, Period of Purple Crying, Center for Child and Family Health, Durham, NC
2009 – 2011: Health Services Research Specialist, Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, NC
2011 – 2014:
Institutional Review Board Coordinator, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD

Professional Interests:
Implementation Science, Organization Determinants of Implementation/Innovation Effectiveness, Minority Research Recruitment, Cancer Care, Cancer Disparities.

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
I chose UNC because it offers a unique opportunity to collaborate on multidisciplinary research, provides generous funding and opportunities for engagement in scholarly activities and offers mentorship which will help me in my academic and scholarly pursuits.

In one sentence, describe your experience at UNC.
Everyone has been kind, supportive, and most importantly collaborative during my time at UNC.

What has been the most valuable piece of knowledge you have learned in the CCQTP to date?
I have learned about the breadth of cancer care research that is occurring across campus and the many on-campus resources that are available to support research activities.

Why does the CCQTP format work for you?

CCQTP gives me access to faculty mentorship which is crucial for finishing my dissertation and solidifying my career goals.  It also allows me access to additional coursework and training which is helpful for rounding out my experiences at UNC. And of course, having protected research time is invaluable to me.

Describe a typical term.
I am in my first semester of the program, so I will be attending one class and attending tumor board meetings one day a week.  Otherwise, I will be working on my dissertating research.

What do you like best about the CCQTP?
The financial support and mentorship.

Describe the interaction you have with the faculty in the CCQTP.
So far, faculty in the CCQTP have been helpful with the development of my research aims for my dissertation proposal.

How do you manage your time—work/family/school balance?
I try to treat school as a 9-5, but also make time for family, friends and physical activity – which are all important to me.  Participation in the program allows me flexibility in how I structure my day, leaving time for my other interests – including participation on other research studies and publications.

What is the greatest value added from the CCQTP?
Protected research time.  Being able to focus on my dissertation research is going to help me complete the program in a timely manner.

Is there anything you would like to tell a prospective student about the CCQTP?
Apply!  The program embodies all of the things that will be helpful for beginning/continuing your research skills. It helps you develop skills in being a good mentee and a good mentor, exposes you to the wide variety of cancer care research that is occurring on and off campus, and allows you to focus on your work.

What are your plans and goals after the CCQTP?
I hope to become a cancer care researcher in a government agency, contract research organization or an academic institution.  Hopefully, my dissertation research will lead me to some clear “next steps” to research cancer care disparities and implementation science.


Jenny Spencer

Jenny Spencer

Name: Jenny Spencer
Pre-Doctoral
Expected Graduation: May 2019

Educational Background:
BS, Zoology, North Carolina State University, 2009
HPM MSPH, UNC, 2016

Prior Work Experience:
2011-2013:
Research Assistant, Duke University School of Medicine
2013-2014: Research Assistant, NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine

 

Why did you choose UNC’s Cancer Care Quality Training Program (CCQTP)?
I chose CCQTP because I think it will be an incredible opportunity to grow as a researcher and to start  to widen my understanding of cancer care research. CCQTP offers opportunities to work with an incredible network of cancer researchers with a variety of methodological interests and backgrounds, so I can get a real diversity of viewpoints from both formal and informal mentors. It also provides me with opportunities to further my professional and academic development through attending conferences and workshops.

Why are you interested in cancer care and cancer care quality?
I began my research career with an interest in health disparities and cancer care is one of the places where incredible progress has been made in the past 20 or 30 years but as a result, we are starting to really see the effects of disparities in quality and access creating differential outcomes for vulnerable groups. I find cancer care such an interesting topic to study because it can represent some of the most promising aspects of research and medicine but also reflects some of the biggest challenges in our  country’s health system- especially as it relates to quality and access.

Who are your mentors/preceptors, and why did you select them?
My primary mentor is Dr. Stephanie Wheeler. I selected her because of her extensive work in cancer care disparities and also her expertise in decision modeling techniques. My secondary mentor is Dr. Noel Brewer who works in cancer prevention and is an expert on HPV vaccination.

What are your research interests? Will you be working on these during your time in this fellowship?
I am interested in understanding and addressing cancer health disparities. During my fellowship I will be completing my dissertation by examining HPV vaccination patterns among vulnerable populations and modeling what implications this might have for cervical cancer rates in the future.

What is the best piece of professional advice you have received to date?
It’s very simple, but I think something I needed to hear at the time, because as a new student I really wanted to say yes to everything. When you get an opportunity or someone asks for your help on a project, never say no right away and never say yes right away. Take a day to think about the pros and cons and decide whether it’s right for you.

How do you manage your time, and achieve a work—school—family balance?
It’s been helpful to me to have a schedule that’s really flexible. My first priority is school work, but I can still make time for friends and family, and a lot of my other work doesn’t have to have a dedicated time so I can fit it in whenever I have some extra free time.

What is an interesting facet of your personality that is not readily known? (e.g. what hobby do you have that no one would suspect?)
In my free time I perform with an improv theater group called “Third Date” based in Durham – I’ve been performing with them for a few years and I find it a nice break from the world of Health Services Research to go do something creative and sometimes a little silly.


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