Emily FalkEmily Falk Libby is a cum laude graduate of Yale University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She began her career as a mergers and acquisitions analyst on Wall Street, and has since worked in fields ranging from orchestra management at The Kennedy Center to market research in corporate healthcare.

“My husband and I were living in Birmingham for his work and I decided to take advantage of UAB’s strengths in research and in its Comprehensive Cancer Center to pursue a long-standing interest in cancer research,” said Libby, a native of Washington, D.C.

Libby is a third-year predoctoral student in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Nutrition Sciences. She is focused on investigating the role of autophagy, a cellular process of self-eating, in breast cancer metastasis.

To study this angle, Libby has taken a transdisciplinary approach, seeking mentors in two different UAB Schools: the School of Health Professions (Wendy Demark-Wahnefried in Nutrition Sciences) and the School of Medicine (Douglas R. Hurst in Pathology).

Metastasis remains the chief cause of cancer mortality. Libby says that deeper understanding of how to prevent and treat metastasis is imperative. Accordingly, her long-term research interests include clarifying mechanisms that govern cancer progression. To this end, she is a Trainee in the UAB Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program, which is one of the longest running National Cancer Institute-funded R25 training programs in the country.

Libby’s advice to other students is to take the time not only to think deeply about their research interests, but also to identify the mentorship team who can best support those interests.

“I am fortunate and grateful that I receive excellent mentorship from Dr. Hurst and Dr. Demark-Wahnefried, as well as through the Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program and the Nutrition Sciences Department; I have found this to be critical to my experience at UAB as a predoctoral student.”