Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professor in Cancer Research Executive Director, Comprehensive Cancer Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute Professor, Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Utah Dr. Cornelia Ulrich is a cancer epidemiologist whose research focuses on lifestyle and biologic factors in cancer prevention and ca... Read More
Jennifer Ose, MsC PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Ose earned her doctorate degree in cancer epidemiology (summa cum laude) from the Medical Faculty at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She has strong expertise in molecular epidemiology and the conduct of clinical and population-based studies. Dr. Ose is the Scientific Coordinator of the ColoCare Consortium consisting of six study sites in the US and one study site in Heidelberg, Germany. Her research focuses on studying colorectal cancer aiming to explore the role of one-carbon metabolism in the recurrence of colorectal cancer and to use metabolomics to characterize biomarkers that may be predictive for colorectal cancer.
Christy A. Warby, BA
Research Analyst/Lab Manager
Christy has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Utah and more than 20 years of experience in research at the University. She is responsible for managing the daily operations of the lab, including assay establishment and onboarding of new members. In addition, she is currently analyzing inflammation biomarkers in samples from the ColoCare study on the Meso Scale Discoveries platform.
Andreana N. Holowatyj, PhD, MS
Dr. Holowatyj graduated in 2017 with her PhD in cancer biology and a graduate certificate degree in public health practice from the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan. She received many national and international awards during her doctoral tenure, in which her translational research focused on the intersection of molecular epidemiology and basic science experiments in the lab to examine and decipher the complexities of cancer. She also developed a strong expertise on the impact of cancer health disparities on cancer risk, incidence, and outcomes.
At Huntsman Cancer Institute, Dr. Holowatyj is the 2019 Susan Cooper Jones Endowed Postdoctoral Fellow in Cancer Research; a recipient of a National Institutes of Health/National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH/NHGRI) T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genomic Medicine; and recently earned a master of science degree in clinical investigation from the University of Utah School of Medicine. The focus of her research is to elucidate the molecular underpinnings (transcriptome, genome, metabolome, microbiome) of young-onset sporadic colorectal cancer using data from ColoCare, FOCUS, MetaboCCC, and other international consortia. In addition, her research work aims to decipher how energy balance and tumor-adipose tissue crosstalk impact gastrointestinal cancer risk and/or outcomes, and to explore the roles of folate one-carbon metabolism and NSAID/aspirin pharmacogenetics in colorectal cancer risk. Dr. Holowatyj also continues her involvement with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), which has included serving as a panelist at the 2017 AACR Congressional Briefing, being elected to serve a three-year term on the AACR Associate Member Council beginning in 2018, and being selected for a competitive 2019 AACR NextGen Star Award.
Tengda Lin, MPH, MA
Tengda is a Biostatistician in the Cancer Biostatistics Shared Resource at HCI. He is majorly responsible for data management and statistical support for the ColoCare program at Ulrich’s Lab. He received both his master degrees concentrated on biostatistics from State University of New York at Buffalo. He is interested in applying biostatistics to resolve questions in population science research, particularly relates to the investigation on the association between cancer and -omics.
Bailee Daniels, CCRC, BS
Certified Clinical Research Coordinator
Bailee is a certified clinical research coordinator for the Precision Exercise Prescription (PEP) study. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Utah and is a Utah Endorsed Medical Assistant. She is currently pursuing a masters in health leadership. After working with the OB/GYN Research Network at the University of Utah as a study coordinator, she transferred to the group to continue her research career. Her primary responsibilities for the PEP study include patient recruitment, follow up, data entry, and regulatory compliance.
PhD student in Clinical and Translational Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah. She joined the team at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in October 2015 and is now a PhD candidate. Caroline supports new patient recruitments as well as the ColoCare study organization and will perform her doctoral thesis within the study. Furthermore, she organizes the PEP study which is designed to test a personalized exercise program in lung cancer patients undergoing surgery.
Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Utah. Before joining the Ulrich group in August 2017, Jessica was an administrative assistant for several other doctors and researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute. She is currently responsible for managing Dr. Ulrich’s research team through calendar management, professional travel, budgeting, grant support, and whatever various tasks she can do to give the team more time to focus on the research.
Natalie Rojas, CCRC, BS
Certified Clinical Research Coordinator
Natalie is a certified clinical research coordinator for the Total Cancer Care team. She received her bachelor’s degree in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology from Brigham Young University. She is currently the lead coordinator for the Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy Acupuncture study, a collaboration between Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), College of Nursing and the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. She also recently joined the ORIEN Avatar team and is excited to help continue the growth of this project at HCI.
Mikaela Larson, CCRP
Associate Director for Total Cancer Care/ORIEN
Mikaela is the associate director of research for Total Cancer Care and ORIEN at Huntsman Cancer Institute. She leads the Total Cancer Care team and works closely with physicians and researchers to utilize samples and data for numerous studies. She is the liaison with the ORIEN network, which includes 19 leading national cancer centers that share data and samples to accelerate cancer research. Before joining Huntsman Cancer Institute, she worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Total Cancer Care Study Program Manager
Macy is a program manager for the Total Cancer Care study. She manages the ORIEN Avatar project, an initiative in which paired tumor and germline samples are submitted for whole exome sequencing to produce data for the ORIEN network's vast collective of investigators and physicians. She is currently pursuing a master’s in clinical research and holds a bachelor of science in health, society, and policy from the University of Utah. Prior to clinical research, she served a full term of service in AmeriCorps and worked extensively in the community with individuals experiencing homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and severe mental health diagnoses. In her free time she enjoys running, reading, hiking, writing DnD campaigns, and being an overly enthusiastic dog mom.
Rich Viskochil, PhD
Rich is a postdoc in the Ulrich team. He received his PhD in kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts, where his dissertation work evaluated the impact of a 12-week exercise training program on diabetes risk factors in breast cancer survivors. His research focuses on the interactions between exercise, cancer and diabetes, as well as the metabolic health benefits that occur when people increase their physical activity and/or decrease their sedentary behavior.
Mary Playdon, PhD
Dr. Playdon is an Assistant Professor affiliated with the Ulrich team and a nutritional and cancer epidemiologist. She received her PhD in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the metabolic epidemiology branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute. The overall goal of her research is to understand the role of diet and obesity in the development and prognosis of cancer. In particular, Dr. Playdon is interested in unraveling the metabolic factors underlying dietary relationships with cancer using metabolomics, and developing dietary biomarkers to better measure diet.
Anjelica Ashworth, BS
Anjelica Ashworth earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in marketing from Southern Utah University. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved in various research projects relating to psychology. Anjelica is a study coordinator for the ColoCare Study and is responsible for patient recruitment and enrollment. She manages specimen and data collection with the ColoCare participants.
Karen Salas, BA
Karen Salas is a clinical research coordinator for the ColoCare Study and is responsible for patient recruitment and enrollment, follow-up, sample collection, and regulatory compliance. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish at the University of Utah and has a professional background in teaching and massage therapy. Since 2012, she has supported clinical trials as a coordinator in neonatology, pediatric type 1 diabetes, and most recently, mindfulness-based behavioral therapies for chronic pain and opioid use. For her, cancer research provides yet another compelling example where the generosity of research participants and their families is helping us all find answers.
Adriana Coletta, PhD, RD
Adriana Coletta is an assistant professor in the Cancer Control and Population Sciences program at Huntsman Cancer Institute and in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation in the College of Health at the University of Utah. She is affiliated with the Ulrich group. She is a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, and her research program consists of implementing principles from exercise science and sports nutrition across the cancer continuum to improve body composition and related biomarkers linked with cancer risk and progression. Dr. Coletta joined the team at HCI and the University of Utah after completing her postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral science and cancer prevention at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is a member of the NCI’s Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) Consortium and was a TREC fellow in the 2018 cohort. Dr. Coletta earned her BS in nutrition from the Pennsylvania State University and MS in nutrition (with minor in exercise science) and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Tennessee. She then worked as a pediatric dietitian at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center prior to going back to school full time to earn her PhD in kinesiology at Texas A&M University.
Anita R. Peoples, PhD, MPH
Research Assistant Professor
Dr. Peoples recently completed the NIH/NCATS-funded population health research fellowship through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). Prior to this, she completed the NCI-funded R25 cancer control clinical research training at the URMC. As part of the R25 training, Dr. Peoples also completed a master’s in public health, with an emphasis on epidemiology, clinical trials, and population sciences. She earned her doctorate in biophysics with focus in basic radiation science of DNA damage associated with cancer. She then transitioned into cancer control and survivorship clinical research to further her career objective of being a clinical and translational researcher from bench to bedside.
Dr. Peoples’s research, teaching, and service interests have focused on examining biomarkers, risk factors, and effective behavioral and pharmacologic interventions for adverse health outcomes stemming from cancer and its treatment, namely insomnia, depression, fatigue, muscle and mitochondrial damage, dyspnea, nausea and vomiting, and quality of life. She has also been honored with numerous distinguished research awards from prestigious national and international organizations, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.
At Huntsman Cancer Institute, Dr. Peoples is involved with management and research activities pertaining to the ColoCare study, which is a multisite prospective cohort study in colorectal cancer patients. Briefly, the focus of her research is to elucidate the relationship of sleep disturbance with genomic/biologic markers, other cancer-related symptoms (e.g., cardiotoxicity, fatigue, and pain), as well as with cancer recurrence, specifically in colorectal cancer patients.
Cristina Perez Christenson
Cristina is a program manager for the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) Total Cancer Care (TCC) program. She came to HCI from the Department of Pediatrics, where she was a project manager for the Utah Trial Innovation Center. Prior to that, she worked with Population Sciences at HCI, where she managed and oversaw the Pediatric Cancer Biobank for more than three years. Previously, she worked as a research coordinator on the Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry and the National Children’s Study, where she valued her interaction with study participants. Cristina grew up in East Los Angeles, California and has lived in Germany and New York City before moving to Salt Lake in 2012 to work and study at the University of Utah. She enjoys scuba diving, traveling, and exploring the outdoors and new cities. She is thrilled for this opportunity to return to HCI and be part of such a phenomenal team.
Sheetal Hardikar, MBBS, PhD, MPH
Dr. Hardikar is an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah and an associate member in Cancer Control and Population Sciences at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). She earned her PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington and completed her postdoctoral training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where she holds an affiliate investigator appointment. Dr. Hardikar is a cancer epidemiologist by training. Her research focuses on molecular and lifestyle factors associated with etiology and progression of colorectal cancer. She has explored varied pathways to cancer development, particularly the inflammatory pathway with respect to lifestyle factors, including obesity, smoking, alcohol use, medication use, and physical activity. She is particularly interested in exploring the role of biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress, including telomeres, on survival after colorectal cancer diagnosis. She also has a strong interest in understanding the contributions of comorbidities, including obesity and diabetes, in the development and progression of colorectal cancer.
Marissa is a student research assistant for the ColoCare study. She is an undergraduate pre-med student at the University of Utah, majoring in communications and minoring in chemistry. She plans on attending medical school in the Fall of 2020.
Past and Present Interns
Damon is a high school senior who worked as a Pathmaker Student with the Ulrich Group. He has an interest in the medical field and wants to major in biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. He will be graduating from East High School in 2020.
Yannick is a medical student and a research scholar at the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Research Program at HCI. He is working in the Ulrich Group and supports the organization of the ColoCare Study. His research interests focus on the human microbiome and its associations to carcinogenesis, especially in patients with colorectal cancer.
Simon Ta Van
Simon is a medical student in his final year at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He is conducting a year of research at Huntsman Cancer Institute for his medical doctorate degree on the topic of body composition and its effects on colorectal cancer. In addition, Simon is assisting the study coordinators with the daily tasks of the ColoCare study.
Candace Winterton joined the Ulrich Group in September 2018. Her primary focus was on health disparities in underprivileged populations, including the increased cancer risk in individuals experiencing homelessness. She was also involved with the ColoCare study.
Prior to joining the Ulrich Group, Candace gained experience working in a radiology and imaging research lab, where image-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound therapy (MRgFUS or HIFU) was used to develop techniques to ablate breast cancer tumors non-invasively. Her past academic endeavors include earning both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance. During her time with the group, she was studying biology at the University of Utah with the intent to apply to medical school.
Alison was a summer intern from Rowland Hall in Salt Lake City. She worked with the ColoCare team. She graduated from Rowland Hall in 2018.
Former Lab Members
Rama Kiblawi was a visiting scholar in the Ulrich Group and was in her last year of medical school at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Prior to joining the Ulrich team, she worked at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, Germany, for her MD thesis. Her research project focused on the correlation of one-carbon metabolites with inflammation and angiogenesis related biomarkers among colorectal cancer patients within the ColoCare Consortium.
Hanna Omar-Payne, BS
Hanna received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Utah in 2016. Prior to joining the Ulrich Lab, she worked as a research assistant in the Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury unit of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She was the study coordinator for the Total Cancer Care SUPPORT Study, and was primarily responsible for participant recruitment, enrollment, and data collection.
Elisa Santori, BSc
ColoCare Study Coordinator
Elisa Santori has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology with a medical emphasis from Montana State University in Bozeman. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved in research of the microbiota and its progression to bacterial vaginosis (BV). Her previous experience as a medical assistant at a cancer research clinic sparked her interest in oncological clinical studies. Elisa was the study coordinator for the ColoCare Study and was responsible for patient recruitment and enrollment. She managed specimen and data collection with the ColoCare participants.
Samantha Wise, MS
Clinical Research Coordinator HCI-Total Cancer Care
Samantha studied public health during her undergraduate education and holds a master’s degree in health promotion and education with an emphasis in integrative medicine from the University of Utah. Her research interests included educational disparities of women in Utah, health behavior and the aging process, special considerations for rural populations, and qualitative data analysis.
She worked in the field of genetic research since 2012 and previously helped enroll patients for Huntsman Cancer Institute’s REACH study which, in conjunction with genetic counseling services, focused on educating women and their families about hereditary breast/ovarian cancer to make informed health decisions. Additionally, she worked in the departments of Genetic Epidemiology and OB/GYN studying women from families with high-incidence rates of pelvic floor disorders identified through Utah Population Database pedigrees.
Samantha is worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the department of Cancer Control and Population Sciences for the institution's bio-banking collection protocol called HCI-Total Cancer Care.
Dominik Ose, DrPH, MPH
The focus of Dominik’s scientific career was on the development, implementation and evaluation of complex health services interventions. He is a public health scientist by training with a post-doctoral qualification (called “Habilitation”) as health services researcher. As Director for Scientific Implementation Projects at the INFOPAT Project (2011-2015; www.infopat.eu), he has overseen the development and implementation of a broad range of different health care concepts including an electronic personal health record for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer or a primary care based case-management approach. In the recent years, his work is increasingly in the context of cancer care (e.g., survivorship in colorectal cancer patients, end of life care of lung cancer patients, patient reported outcomes). In terms of research methods, he is experienced in the application of qualitative (e.g. interviews, focus groups) and quantitative methods (e.g. multi-level analysis).
Juergen Boehm, MD
Dr. Böhm is a research physician who received his MD from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany in 2010. Before joining the Division of Population Sciences at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in 2015, he worked at the Division of Preventive Oncology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg, Germany. He has a strong expertise in epidemiological research and conducting clinical and population-based studies. Currently, he is working at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
Stefanie is a PhD candidate at Medical University of Vienna – Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). She was a visiting student for 3 months with the Ulrich Group working on the MetaboCCC and FOCUS studies.
Mahmoud is a PhD candidate in the department of Exercise Immunology, Physical Education and Sport Sciences Department and Faculty of Humanities at Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran. He was a visiting scholar for one year with the Ulrich Group working on the ColoCare and PEP studies.
Rebekah Ess, BS
Former Research Assistant
Rebekah has a bachelor’s degree in health, society, and policy from the University of Utah and is currently in the Master of Science Public Health program. She has been involved in research for five years and her main interest is in epidemiology. Rebekah was a research assistant for the ColoCare study.
Cooper FieldCooper was an MD student at the University of Utah while with the Ulrich group.
Litty Koshy, MPH
Former Study Coordinator
Litty was born in New York but moved to Texas where she received her bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Texas. From there, she had the opportunity to work at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she was introduced to public health and studies involving health behaviors and their link to genetics and social/psychological factors. This eventually led her to getting her MPH in social and behavioral sciences from the University of Florida. She worked as a study coordinator for the HCI-Total Cancer Care SUPPORT study.
Kelly received her MS RD from the University of Utah College of Health Sciences. She worked on her master’s thesis with the Ulrich lab, studying sugar intake among colorectal cancer patients and its association with systemic inflammatory markers. She received her masters in nutrition and registered dietitian (RD) credential at the University of Utah through their Coordinated Masters in Nutrition program. Prior to graduate school, Kelly received a BA in environmental studies from Mills College in Oakland, California.