May is National Cancer Awareness Month. UNC-Chapel Hill researchers and clinicians are at the forefront of new cancer discoveries, quality cancer treatment and prevention.
Carolina experts are available to discuss a variety of cancer-related topics, including:
- Research developments on various forms of cancer and their treatment, including breast cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, blood cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate, cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and others
- Treating cancer and improving the quality of life of different ages, including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly
- Cancer prevention or treatment among diverse populations, including American Indian/Alaska Native populations, trans populations, and HIV positive populations
- Cancer prevention and treatment in international settings
- Reducing tobacco use at the population level to reduce cancer incidence
- Incorporating patient feedback into product development and FDA labeling
- Improving quality of life with cancer, including exercise to alleviate side effects associated with cancer treatment
- Cancer and palliative care, improving end-of-life care, bereaved parents and the grieving process
- Cancer survivorship, medical traumatic stress, and posttraumatic growth
- Personal experience with cancer or supporting loved ones with cancer while being a cancer researcher
If you are interested in speaking with an expert, please email [email protected] with the topic you would like to cover or the expert(s) you would like to interview.
Dr. Ethan Bash, MD, M.Sc. is a medical oncologist and health services researcher focused on developing methods to bring the patient perspective into cancer clinical research and routine care delivery. For more than a decade, his laboratory has developed and implemented patient-reported outcomes (PRO) tools and worked closely with public and private agencies to effect policy changes based on our findings. His goal in these efforts is to promote the inclusion of the patient experience in product development and FDA labeling so that providers can adequately understand people’s experiences during treatment and make informed treatment decisions.
Dr. Claudio Battaglini is a professor of exercise and sport science (specialization in exercise physiology) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Battaglini’s research focuses on the effects of acute and chronic exercise on the physiological, psychological, and physical functioning of cancer patients. He directs the Exercise Oncology Research Laboratory (EORL) and is Director Emeritus of the Get REAL & HEEL Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Program. Over the past 19 years as a faculty member at UNC Chapel Hill, Dr. Battaglini has published over 200 journal articles and scientific abstracts and 5 textbook chapters related to exercise oncology. Dr. Battaglini was the recipient of the 2017 Dana-Faber/Harvard Cancer Institute Harvard Medical Center Comprehensive Leadership Award for his research in exercise oncology and the 2015 UNC C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Awards and The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences Office of the Provost’s Fellowship.”
Ashley Leake Bryant, Ph.D., RN has expertise in geriatrics, palliative and supportive care, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), interprofessional collaboration, and workforce development. Her research program focuses on providing multidisciplinary interventions to improve symptoms, functional status, and quality of life for both older adults with blood cancers and their caregivers. Her clinical roles have given her unique insight into the diverse settings in which older adults and cancer patients receive care and have empowered her to pursue experience-based, research-supported nursing workforce development both in the United States and and abroad.
Dirk Dittmer, PhD studies cancers that develop in the context of immunodeficiency and HIV/AIDS. His laboratory focuses on fundamental aspects of virus-host interaction points and seeks to develop targeted therapies against Kaposi’s sarcoma, a form of cancer that causes lesions to grow in the skin, lymph nodes, internal organs and mucous membranes.
Dr. Shekinah Elmore, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Both a cancer physician and a self-described “cancer person,” she is known for her cancer patient advocacy work among her physician colleagues and for her public speaking and writing. She has written and spoken publicly about surviving childhood rhabdomyosarcoma in the New England Journal of Medicine. While training at Harvard Medical School, she focused on understanding and improving access to radiotherapy in resource-limited settings and promoting avenues for resident participation in improving global radiotherapy. Elmore received a Fulbright Award to travel to Central Africa to study how patients in Rwanda experience cancer treatment, which she spoke about at TEDMED.
Mark Emerson, PhD conducts research focused on integrating biological and socioecological perspectives in addressing disparities in cancer care and access to care. In practice, he hopes this research will contribute to improving cancer outcomes for American Indian/Alaska Native people. In his research and pedagogy, Mark prioritizes indigenous methods and analytical frameworks to help mitigate the environmental and psychological harms associated with Western scientific applications.
Dr. Joanie Ivory, MD is currently a third-year Hematology/Oncology Fellow and NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cecil G. Scheps Center for Health Services Research. In August 2023, she will join the faculty at the University of North Carolina as an assistant professor in the Department of Oncology. She is clinically trained as a medical breast oncologist. She studies factors that influence the differences seen in breast cancer mortality among different ethnic groups. Her current research focuses on overcoming structural barriers to racial minority participation in clinical trials. Dr. Ivory also researches factors influencing trans-inclusive and trans-specific cancer care and uses collaborations with renowned experts to address the treatment landscape to achieve equitable care for all.
Dr. Matthew Milowski, MD is a medical oncologist and researcher. His clinical interest is in the treatment of patients with genitourinary cancers, including bladder cancer, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and prostate cancer. He is Section Chief of the Genitourinary Oncology Service and Co-Director of the Urologic Oncology Program. Dr. Milowski’s research focuses on developing new therapies for bladder cancer patients.
Dr. Chad Pecot, MD, specializes in the care of lung cancer patients and conducts research on how different types of RNA promote the spread of cancer. His lab at UNC Lineberger also studies how RNA can be engineered into cancer therapies. His focus on RNA led to his appointment as director of the newly established UNC RNA Discovery Center, an inclusive community of scientists dedicated to the study of all aspects of RNA biology, and he is also CEO of his own biotech company, EnFuego Therapeutics.
Dr. Charles Peru, Ph.D. is known for discovering five types of breast cancer based on gene expression patterns and machine learning. His laboratory performs genetic testing of tumors, with an emphasis on basal-like breast cancers. Dr. Peru’s laboratory conducts research to identify the drivers of cancer spread, determine the role of the immune system in breast tumor progression, and improve the therapeutic targeting of tumors. His lab has also found that young black women are diagnosed with basal-like breast cancer at roughly twice the rate of their white counterparts.
Kurt Rybissel, Ph.D. is a leading national expert in population research focused on reducing tobacco use, with a particular emphasis on the regulation of retail tobacco sales and marketing. He has researched tobacco product marketing, pricing, promotions, and youth access, as well as how to regulate e-cigarettes at the local, state, and federal levels. He has evaluated the impact of local, state, federal (eg, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act), and global policies related to the sales and marketing of tobacco products.
Dr. Donald Rosenstein, MD is director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Support Program, which provides cancer patients with a wide range of educational, medical, psychiatric and psycho-social services. In addition to his clinical responsibilities, Dr. Rosenstein conducts research focused on financial navigation as an intervention for cancer-related financial toxicity, suicide risk screening initiatives in the medical setting, and organizational leadership. Along with Dr. Justin Yopp of UNC Lineberger, he co-authored The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life, a book that examines the grieving process, adaptation, and resilience experienced by the seven men after the death of their partner.
Dr. Hannah Sanoff, MD, MPH is a gastrointestinal medical oncologist and clinical investigator who aims to increase the proportion of gastrointestinal cancer patients who receive effective and tolerable treatment for their cancer. She is particularly interested in how to optimize treatment for understudied and high-risk patient populations. Dr. Sanoff approaches this through a combination of clinical trials of new drugs and new drug combinations, trials designed to detect biomarkers of treatment-related toxicity, and comparative effectiveness research that examines the real-world effectiveness of our treatments for crab.
Dr. Andrew Satterly, Ph.D. knows that developing personalized treatments for brain cancer is more than a career path, it’s a personal mission. Satterlee was diagnosed with cancer in college and his doctors disagreed on the proper course of treatment. Now he and his team are developing a tool to help doctors decide which therapies are best for each individual patient. They used living slices of rat brain as a basis on which to graft freshly resected brain tumor tissue into a patient. That way, they can directly test several potential treatments on the patient’s own brain tumor before actually treating the patient. Satterlee’s team is working directly with adult and pediatric physicians at UNC and is beginning a clinical feasibility trial to move the technology forward.
Dr. Jared Weiss, MD is a medical oncologist specializing in the study and treatment of lung cancer and head and neck cancer. He has made it his life’s work to reduce cancer suffering and remove the stigmas unfairly associated with lung and head and neck cancer. In addition to patient care, with a focus on curative care and maximizing quality of life, Dr. Weiss is an investigator investigating personalized immunotherapies – cancer vaccines and cell therapy (CAR-T). He also leads several investigator-initiated studies that are focused on developing new drugs that have fewer side effects and that better control cancer.
Dr. Jen Jen Ye, MD is a surgical oncologist, researcher, and director of the UNC Linebarger Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence. She and her colleagues have identified new molecular subtypes of pancreatic cancer that may have biological and clinical significance, and have developed a device that can help target chemotherapy drugs directly into pancreatic tumor tissue to prevent growth them and shrink them.