The UMass Boston - Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center

U54 CANCER RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP

Principal Investigators

Adan Colon-Carmona, PhD, UMass Boston
Alexey Veraksa, PhD, UMass Boston
Elyse Park, PhD, MGH
Laura Hayman, PhD, RN, FAAN, UMass Boston
Jill Macoska, PhD, UMass Boston
Jan Mutchler, PhD, UMass Boston
Jennifer Allen, DSc, MPH, RN, DFCI
Joan Becker, EdD, EdM, UMass Boston
Karen Burns White, MS, DFCI
Karen M. Emmons, PhD, DFCI
Lois Biener, PhD, UMass Boston
Lorna Rivera, PhD, UMass Boston
Maria Idalί Torres, PhD, UMass Boston
Nathanael Gray, PhD, DFCI
Patricia Reid Ponte, DNSc, FAAN, RN, DFCI
Paul Maciejewski, PhD, BWH
Priscilla Yang, PhD, HMS
Rachel Jimenez, MD, DFCI
Spyridon Artavanis-Tsakonas, PhD, HMS
Steven Joffe, MD, MPH, DFCI
Wei Zhang, PhD, UMass Boston

Jonathan Rochford, PhD, UMass Boston

Chandra Yelleswarapu, PhD, UMass Boston

Jen-Chieh Tseng, PhD, DFCI

Nancy Kohl, PhD, DFCI

James Bradner, MD, DFCI

 

Back to Projects & PIs.

Adan Colon-Carmona, PhD
adan.colon-carmona@umb.edu

Adan Colon-CarmonaDr. Adán Colón-Carmona is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His basic science research projects are focused on: understanding how plant growth is influenced by physical and chemical environments, the roles of the motor proteins kinesins in check-point control and organ development; and understanding bacterial-plant interactions in the root system. Dr. Colón-Carmona received his BS degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his PhD from the University of California, Irvine. He did his post-doctoral training on growth control and cell signaling at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California, Davis. 

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Alexey Veraksa, PhD
Alexey.Veraksa@umb.edu

Alexey VeraksaDr. Alexey Veraksa was born in Moscow and received his undergraduate education at Moscow State University (MGU), graduating with Honors. He did graduate research with Prof. W. McGinnis, first at Yale University and subsequently at the University of California, San Diego. He received his PhD degree from UCSD in 2000. The topic of his graduate dissertation was “Modulation of Hox protein function in Drosophila”. During his graduate studies, Dr. Veraksa was a predoctoral fellow of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). He continued his training as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. S. Artavanis-Tsakonas at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. As a postdoc, Dr. Veraksa studied Notch signaling and applied methods of tandem affinity purification/mass spectrometry to the analysis of signaling complexes in the Notch pathway.

Since 2005, Dr. Veraksa has been Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at UMass Boston. In his own lab, Dr. Veraksa continues developing novel methods of protein complex purification and is applying them to the analysis of proteins important in developmental signaling in Drosophila, such as β-arrestin Kurtz, Notch, and others. 

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

 

Elyse Park, PhD
epark@partners.org

Dr. Elyse Park is a clinical health psychologist and health services researcher who focuses on understanding and improving health-related behaviors, especially smoking cessation among vulnerable medical populations.  Her research interests extend across physician and patient behavior change and the role of race and culture on cancer preventative behaviors and beliefs.  For her translational research in cancer prevention counseling, Dr. Park has designed and evaluated motivational interviewing interventions and is certified as a trainer in this technique.  She is experienced in qualitative research development and uses qualitative research to inform quantitative survey design. Dr. Park has led numerous externally-funded research projects, including a study examining risk perceptions of individuals undergoing lung cancer screening (American Cancer Society) and research assessing the feasibility of a pilot smoking cessation trial for thoracic cancer patients (National Cancer Institute).  She recently received a grant for the Lance Armstrong Foundation to conduct a national survey among childhood cancer survivors to examine the quality of their health insurance coverage.  Dr. Park has published more than 60 original articles in a variety of peer reviewed journals.  She is currently Chair of the American Cancer Society's peer review committee for Psychosocial and Behavioral Research. Dr. Park's clinical work focuses on oncology patients and survivors.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Laura Hayman, PhD, RN, FAAN
Laura.Hayman@umb.edu

Dr. Laura Hayman’s program of research and scholarship focuses on prevention of obesity and cardiovascular disease in children, adolescents and families from diverse backgrounds.  Her research and scholarship have centered on the role of health behavior in life course health promotion and disease prevention. Currently she is serving as co-principal investigator of a multidisciplinary intervention trial focused on change in cardiometabolic risk factors during an interactive fitness program in urban middle school children. Dr. Hayman has participated in development and implementation of evidence-based statements and clinical and public health guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and other child health expert panels focused on primary prevention of obesity and cardiovascular and cardiometabolic conditions.  A past president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Dr. Hayman currently serves on the Society’s Health Policy Committee. She has also served in leadership roles within the American Heart Association and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.   In recognition of her collective interdisciplinary contributions to cardiovascular health promotion and risk reduction in children and adolescents, she was selected to receive the 2010 American Heart Association National Meritorious Achievement Award. 
http://www.cnhs.umb.edu/

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Jill Macoska, PhD
Jill.Macoska@umb.edu

Holly PrigersonDr. Macoska is the Alton J. Brann Distinguished Professor in Science and Mathematics and Director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy, Endowed Chair and Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Prior to her appointment at the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Macoska held the position of Full Professor with tenure in the Department of Urology and Programs in Cellular and Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology, and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics in the University of Michigan School of Medicine.  While at Michigan she held several senior leadership positions including Associate Director for the Genitourinary Program in the Comprehensive Cancer Center (2002-2006). At the National level, Dr. Macoska has served on peer review for several journals and funding agencies and as a strategic participant in several advisory councils and workshops.  She is the current Vice-President and President-elect of the Society for Basic Urologic Research (SBUR) previously served as Co-Chair and Member of the Organizing Committees for the 2010 and 2011 Annual Fall SBUR Symposia, and Chair the Organizing Committee for the 2012 Annual Symposium.  Dr. Macoska has achieved national recognition in the area of basic research in aging and urologic disease, and in that capacity served as Co-Chair of the 2011 American Urological Association Foundation Summer Research Conference on “Aging and Urologic Disease”.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Jan Mutchler, PhD
Jan.Mutchler@umb.edu

Jan MutchlerDr. Jan Mutchler is a Professor of Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She currently serves as Chair and Graduate Program Director of the Gerontology Department, and Associate Director for Social and Demographic Research in the Gerontology Institute.  She received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Texas-Austin.  Her research focuses on demographic issues in aging populations, racial and ethnic diversity in later life, intergenerational families, and income security.  She has received funding through research grants from National Institute on Child Health and Human Development  and the National Institute on Aging, and is the author of more than 40 research articles, along with numerous book chapters and research reports.  She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, has served on the editorial boards of the journals Demography and the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, and currently serves on the editorial board for Journal of Aging and Social Policy.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Jennifer Allen, DSc, MPH, RN
Jennifer_Allen@dfci.harvard.edu

Jennifer AllenDr. Jennifer Allen is Assistant Professor in the Center for Community-Based Research and the Cantor Center for Nursing Research and Patient Care Services at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Allen’s research has focused on the development and evaluation of community-based interventions to promote cancer prevention and control in underserved populations, with an ultimate goal of reducing health disparities. Her work emphasizes community-based participatory approaches to identify community needs and build capacity to implement community-driven solutions. She has developed and evaluated peer-led and e-health interventions to promote cancer screening in a variety of settings, including worksites, churches and housing developments. More recently, she has studied strategies for ensuring wide-scale and equitable dissemination of evidence-based interventions to address health disparities. As co-Principal Investigator of the study entitled, “Promoting Utilization of Cancer Early Detection Methods among Latinos in Church: A Faith- Based Approach,” she hopes to contribute to the advancement of dissemination research and generate a greater understanding of the role of faith-based organizations in promoting health equity.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Joan Becker, EdD, EdM
Joan.Becker@umb.edu

Joan BeckerJoan Becker is the Vice Provost for Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she provides leadership for Undergraduate Studies, the University Advising Center, Academic Support Programs, the Office of Career Services and Internships, the Ross Center for Disability Services, and Pre-collegiate and Educational Support Programs.  She oversees 11 grant-funded programs which generate $4 million annually and are an important pipeline for low-income, first-generation students to pursue and successfully complete undergraduate and graduate education. Among the university committees she has served on are the University of Massachusetts Life Sciences Task Force and its workforce subcommittee, the Urban Health and Public Policy Research Cluster and STEM Learning Research Cluster Work Groups, and the University Research Council. She is currently chairing a university-wide committee charged with developing and implementing a plan to improve the university’s undergraduate graduation rates and is a member of the Strategic Planning Implementation Design Team. Becker represents Boston’s higher education institutions on the Success Boston Work Group and is a member of the Boston After School and Beyond Advisory Committee.  She also is actively involved in state, regional, and national initiatives focused on advancing educational opportunities for low-income and minority youth.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Karen Burns White, MS
Karen_BurnsWhite@dfci.harvard.edu

Karen Burns WhiteAs Deputy Associate Director of the Initiative to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, Karen Burns White coordinates the planning and implementation of the Center's efforts to increase minority participation at all levels of the Cancer Center activities. Ms. Burns White has co-led the implementation of an integrated structure that involves a multi-prong approach including community engagement, cultural competency, recruitment and retention of minority faculty and training.  In 2002, Ms. Burns White secured the first training grant supplement to the existing P30 cancer center grant that established a pipeline program, known as the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE), to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in cutting-edge cancer research. This successful, high-profile program provides research opportunities at the undergraduate, pre- and postdoctoral, and faculty levels. Ms Burns White and her colleagues have strengthened the cancer center’s training portfolio by increasing both NIH and foundation funding to support student training initiatives and the number of students who have benefited by their CURE experiences. Ms Burns White is a servant leader in a variety of civic and community organizations. In 2007, Ms Burns White was asked to serve on the board and lead the grant-making program for the Susan G. Komen for the CURE – Massachusetts Affiliate. In June 2009 she was appointed to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Advisory Committee.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Karen M. Emmons, PhD
Karen_M_Emmons@dfci.harvard.edu

Karen M. Emmons, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a faculty member in the Center for Community-Based Research (CCBR) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). She has an extensive research portfolio in community-based approaches to cancer prevention and control. Her expertise is in behavior change and policy interventions for behavioral cancer risk factors, particularly for low income communities. She also has expertise in cancer disparities, and in efforts to increase dissemination/knowledge translation in low-resource settings.
Dr. Emmons is a Fellow in the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and is currently its President (2010-2011). She received the Society's Distinguished Research Mentor Award in 2004, and the Morse Distinguished Researcher Award from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2005. She completed the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women (2007-2008). She also provides extensive mentoring to junior faculty, and in 2008 she received both a Mentoring Citation from HSPH and the Harold Amos Faculty Diversity Award from the Harvard Medical School.
 

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Lois Biener, PhD
Lois.Biener@umb.edu

Lois BienerDr. Lois Biener, a Senior Research Fellow at the UMass Boston Center for Survey Research (CSR) since 1990, received her PhD in Social Psychology from Columbia University. Prior to her tenure at CSR, she held faculty positions at UMass Boston, Wellesley College, and Brown University Medical School. Much of her research and writing has focused on the impact of media, marketing and policy interventions on the smoking behavior of adults and youth. Her current research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is exploring the response of smokers to new smokeless tobacco products that were introduced in the U.S. in 2006. Dr. Biener has particular expertise in research methodology, and in the design and implementation of population surveys. She has served on federal advisory panels for major tobacco control interventions in the US and has provided expert assistance to the statewide programs in Massachusetts, California, Maine, New York, and Wisconsin. Dr. Biener has contributed to the design and evaluation of survey questions for a number of national surveys in the US, and has conducted original work on refining survey measures of awareness and response to new tobacco products coming into the market. In addition to the National Cancer Institute, her research on tobacco control has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Legacy Foundation.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Lorna Rivera, PhD
Lorna.Rivera@umb.edu

Lorna RiveraDr. Lorna Rivera is an Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Latino Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  Her research focuses on women's literacy, social welfare reform, and race/ethnic/gender health disparities. Dr. Rivera is the author of the award-winning book, Laboring to Learn: Women's Literacy & Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era, University of Illinois Press, 2008.    Her current research examines effective models of delivering health information to minority populations with limited literacy and limited English proficiency. Dr. Rivera is a Co-Principal Investigator on the U54 project: “Hispanic-American End-of-Life Outcomes: Patient, Provider, & Institutional Effects.” Dr. Rivera is also the director of the Latino Leadership Opportunity Program at the Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Public Policy, and will be providing intensive social research methods training for undergraduate students on this research project.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Maria Idalί Torres, PhD
Idali.Torres@umb.edu

Maria Idali TorresDr. Maria Idalί Torres has a broad background in public health and medical anthropology. Prior to joining the Gaston Institute, she was a tenured associate professor at the UMass_Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, where she taught research methods courses, mentored students as advisees and research assistants in her research projects and delivered research literacy workshops to research participants. As the Director of the Gaston Institute, she laid the groundwork for the proposed Bioepi research methods on health disparities, which is based on the experiences of population groups that have historically experienced disparities.
http://www.gaston.umb.edu/

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Nathanael Gray, PhD
Nathanael_Gray@dfci.harvard.edu

Nathanael GrayDr. Nathanael Gray is Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Cancer Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Gray engineers and tests chemicals that block specific cancer-promoting proteins called kinases. His work, which spans a broad range of disease areas, provides important insights into the underlying molecular causes of cancer and helps generate prototypes for the next generation of cancer therapies.

During his time at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, Dr. Gray was a key participant in the building of a protein-kinase platform.  Later he was involved in a variety of kinase-focused medicinal chemistry projects in the area of leukemia.  Dr. Gray also led a project that resulted in a phase III clinical trial for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.  Dr. Gray won the Damon Runyon Cancer Innovation Award (2008), the AACR Team Science award (2010) and the AACR outstanding research award (2011). He has published 95 primary research articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Nature, Cell, Nature Chemical Biology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bioorganic & Medical Chemistry Letters, and Chemistry & Biology.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Patricia Reid Ponte, DNSc, FAAN, RN
Pat_Reid_Ponte@dfci.harvard.edu

Patricia Reid PonteDr. Patricia Reid Ponte is the Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services and Chief Nurse at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Executive Director of Oncology Nursing and Clinical Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has been professionally active within the local, national and international communities for over thirty years in both the service and academic sectors, holding nursing leadership roles at Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts New-England Medical Center Hospital. She teaches graduate level courses in health care quality, is a Past President of Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Executive and current Chair of the ANCC Magnet Commission.  She is an active member in the Academy of Nursing, the Oncology Nursing Society and American Organization of Nurse Executives. Dr. Reid Ponte is co-director of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and UMass Boston College of Nursing and Health Sciences BSN-to-PhD Accelerated Program in Oncology and Health Disparities. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Nursing and her Masters of Science and Doctor of Nursing Science from Boston University.  She is a 2001 Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellow.

Dr. Reid Ponte’s scholarly interests include patient and family-centered care, quality improvement, patient safety, positive practice environments and interdisciplinary leadership.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Paul Maciejewski, PhD
paul.maciejewski@gmail.com

Paul MaciejewskiDr. Paul Maciejewski, is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical and on the staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He holds advanced degrees in engineering and biostatistics. Dr. Maciejewski is evaluating alternative metabolic models for brain synaptic trafficking of the neurotransmitter glutamate, using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Dr. Maciejewski’s broad interests include understanding brain organization and function, ranging from metabolism in neurons and astrocytes and the neurochemistry of chemical synapses to diagnostic assessments for mental disorders.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Priscilla Yang, PhD
priscilla_yang@hms.harvard.edu

Priscilla YangDr. Priscilla L. Yang is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School.  Her research group studies viral pathogens including dengue virus, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).  They focus in particular on host-virus interactions that contribute to viral replication as well as to pathogenesis.  Several projects in the laboratory center around the development and use of chemical tools to probe host-virus interactions at the molecular and pathway levels.  Dr. Yang graduated with combined BS and MS degrees from the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and her PhD in Bio-organic Chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley.  She performed post-doctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Rachel Jimenez, MD
rbjimenez@partners.org

Rachel JimenezDr. Rachel Jimenez is a resident in Radiation Oncology in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program. Her research interests include: health care disparities amongst oncology patients, doctor-patient communication in a palliative care setting, and the factors associated with clinical trial enrollment. Dr. Jimenez received her AB degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Harvard College and her MD from Harvard Medical School.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

 

Spyridon Artavanis-Tsakonas, PhD
artavanis@hms.harvard.edu


Visit the Artivanis Labs website: https://artavanis-tsakonas.med.harvard.edu/index.html

 

 

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Steven Joffe, MD, MPH
Steven_Joffe@dfci.harvard.edu

Steven JoffeDr. Steven Joffe, MD, MPH, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Children’s Hospital in Boston. His clinical work is in stem cell transplantation in children. His research addresses ethical challenges that arise in the conduct of clinical investigation in pediatric oncology and in other areas of medicine. Much of his work has focused on measuring and improving the informed consent and child assent process for clinical trials.  He developed the Quality of Informed Consent (QuIC), for measuring understanding of clinical trials among research subjects.  He has also studied cancer patients’ attitudes towards use and storage of biological specimens for research purposes, the benefits associated with clinical trial enrollment and with receipt of experimental therapy, and the epidemiology and reporting of adverse events in cancer clinical trials. Dr. Joffe has studied human research ethics and protections under NIH grants and receives support from the Greenwall Foundation to conduct health policy studies of accountability in clinical research. He chairs the Bioethics Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group and the Health Policy Working Group of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplantation. He also serves as a member of both the Pediatric Ethics Subcommittee of the FDA’s Pediatric Advisory Committee and of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Human Research Protections.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.

Wei Zhang, PhD
Wei2.Zhang@umb.edu

Wei ZhangDr. Wei Zhang has 16 years of industrial and academic research experience in organic and medicinal chemistry. His current research interests are focused on the design and synthesis of biologically interested compounds for screening and the development of new synthetic technologies for green chemistry applications.  At UMass Boston, he is leading the effort for the PhD Program of Green Chemistry (the first in the nation) and the Center for Green Chemistry (www.greenchemistry.umb.edu) Before joining UMass Boston in 2008, he severed as a Research Assistant Professor at University of Pittsburgh, where he worked on the development of new radical-based synthetic methodologies. He was also Section Chemist at DuPont and Director of Discovery Chemistry at Fluorous Technologies, Inc. He has produced 120 peer-reviewed publications, holds three US patents and his work has been cited over 1,400 times, placing him among the top 1% most-cited authors in life science journals. He is an associate editor of Molecular Diversity (Springer) and serves on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Combinatorial Chemistry. Dr. Zhang was the PI of two NIH Phase II SBIR grants and a P41 grant.

Back to the top.
Back to Projects & PIs.