Epi Student Highlights

The Department of Epidemiology is proud of the dynamic group of talented students within our department’s community. Take a look at a few of the student highlights showcasing these innovative young professionals.

Young investigators are a unique reservoir of new ideas, innovation, energy and genius in cancer research. Thus, a half-day symposium was organized to showcase the young talent at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) who are producing key research in several areas of population science, including epidemiology, biostatistics, outcomes, diversity and survivorship. PhD Candidate Barbra Dickerman won best poster at the event.

Doctoral Candidate Amanda Markovitz presented at the 2017 American Heart Association EPI Lifestyle Conference. Her talk was titled “Preterm Delivery and Maternal Cardiovascular Risk Factor Trajectories Across the Life Course”. Ms. Markovitz also received the Trudy Bush Fellowship for Cardiovascular Disease Research in Women’s Health.

Doctoral Candidate Lauren Tanz, was the first author on a paper published in the journal Circulation, titled; “Preterm Delivery and Maternal Cardiovascular Disease in Young and Middle-Aged Adult Women”. The study was picked up by numerous news outlets including NBC Boston and the New York Times.

Reiko Nishihara was the recipient of the 2017 American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) George K. Michalopoulos Junior Faculty Travel Award.

Katsiaryna Bykov, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology will be presenting at the SER conference in June 2017. Bykov’s abstract is entitled “Interaction between clopidogrel and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: does order matter?”

Mary Kathryn (MK) Downer and Barbra Dickerman presented their work at the Tenth Annual Prostate Cancer Program Retreat in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. MK presented her work on “Regular aspirin use and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the Physicians’ Health Study” and Barbra presented on “Body fat distribution and prostate cancer risk and mortality in the AGES-Reykjavik study.”


howe-2Katherine Howe was a consultant for the World Health Organization in the Department of Nutrition. She and Harvard Medical School postdoctoral fellow alumnus, Dr. Sandro Demaio, conducted a mixed methods study on the health system’s response to the management of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents in tertiary centers worldwide. They hope that the results from the WHO report and paper will provide guidance for public health policymakers, implementers of national nutrition programs, organizations managing nutrition action plans, health managers, and health professionals. At the end of summer, she also instructed a public health nano-course on social and behavioral health, obesity prevention, and cardiovascular disease at the Harvard Center Shanghai. Meanwhile, she is leading a research project on the health impact of playing Pokémon Go with Dr. Christian Suharlim under the mentorship of her adviser, Dr. Eric Rimm, and Dr. Ichiro Kawachi.

Doctoral candidate, Dale Barnhart, recently had a publication, “Intra-cluster correlation estimates for HIV-related outcomes” accepted into Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, with Ellen Hertzmark and Donna Spiegelman of the Epidemiology Department, Enju Liu, Ester Mungure, David Sando, Till Bärnighausen, and Wafaie Fawzi of the Global Health and Population Department, and Aisa N. Muya, Guerino Chalamilla , and Nzovu Ulenga of Management and Development of Health.

Laura Schummers, a doctoral candidate in the Reproductive,Perinatal, and Pediatric concentration received funding on an F31 grant titled “Absolute risks of adverse of pregnancy outcomes according to maternal age and inter-pregnancy interval: interpretable results to guide clinical practice and patient decisionmaking” with Dr. Sonia Hernandez-Diaz as the sponsor, as well as published the following manuscript

Schummers L, Himes KP, Bodnar LM, Hutcheon JA. Predictor characteristics necessary for building a clinically useful risk prediction model: A simulation study. BMC Medical Research Methodology. 2016;16:123 DOI 10.1186/s12874-016-0223-2

Samantha Molsberry, a PhD candidate in Population Health Sciences presented at the 2016 International Symposium on Neurovirology in Toronto, Canada. The presentation was titled “Neuropsychological Phenotypes Among Men With and Without HIV Disease in the Multi-center AIDS Cohort Study”.

Mollie Barnard, a Doctoral Candidate was awarded a NIH/NCI F99 Fellowship grant on the project titled “Inflammation and gynecologic cancer: the role of prostaglandins in ovarian cancer.”


Doctoral Candidate Corey Peak, was the 2016 recipient of the Uwe Brinkmann Memorial Travel Fellowship. Mr. Peak will use this fellowship to work with the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research in Bangladesh. The project, which is titled “Evaluating the Role of Human Mobility in Mass Oral Cholera Vaccine Campaigns”, will bring together recent cholera vaccine field trial data, mobile phone data, and mathematical models of cholera transmission in order to address questions surrounding the duration of herd protection following mass vaccination campaigns.

2016 Volume 2 Isssue 3 DigitalAmanda Markovitz a Doctoral Student in the Department of Epidemiology is the Recipient of the 2015-2016 Barry R. and Irene Tilenius Bloom Fellowship. The fund provides critical financial aid– one of Bloom’s priorities as dean that can transform a student’s vision of public health career into a reality. Recipients of this award are selected on academic merit, leadership potential, and commitment to improving public health fields and areas of the world in greatest need.

2016 Epicenter Vol2 Issue2 Digital_finalWeike Wang and Claire Pernar were the Recipients of the 2016 Harvey V. Fineberg Fellowship. They presented on March 24, 2017. Claire Pernar’s talk was “Investigating the Role of Physical Activity in the Development of Prostate Cancer” and Weike Wang’s talk was “Hyperinsulinemia indices and cancer risk.”

Lauren Barber (Epidemiology) and Emily Gao (Health Policy & Management) were selected as delegates to the 2016 Millennial Health Leaders Summit on March 31, 2016. The two day intensive training prepares the next generation of leaders with tools to take on the task of eliminating health disparities.

johnsonBlake Johnson, President of the Harvard Chan Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) gave an emotional and moving speech during the unfurling of the Gay, Lesbian, and bi-sexual flags during the schools dLOV series. The event was wrapped into dLOV, and saw the raising of three LGBTQ pride flags: the gay pride flag, the bisexuality pride flag, and the transgender pride flag. The placing of these flags was the result of nearly a year’s worth of effort by Student Government and Meredith Rosenthal. My speech focused on the cur-rent climate of LGBTQ life at the Chan School, and challenged the community to think critically about LGBTQ health, as conversations about LGBTQ individuals are currently most often discussed in relationship to HIV/AIDS.

  • To learn about additional exciting student news, you may find it in our department’s quarterly newsletter, EpiCenter.  All editions of EpiCenter may be found on our news webpage.
  • For more Student Highlights from the area of Cancer Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention, visit their webpage!