Three PhD students awarded Komen training grants

Scholars receive financial, educational support to pursue training in cancer disparities research, mentoring from preeminent researchers including Karen Meneses
Photo: PhDThree University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing doctoral students have been selected to participate in the Susan G. Komen Graduate Training in Disparities Research (GTDR), which is designed to establish and sustain a training program for graduate students seeking careers dedicated to understanding and eliminating disparities in breast cancer outcomes across population groups.

By providing funding to outstanding training programs, Komen seeks to ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained scientists will emerge as the next generation of leaders in the field of breast cancer research focused on disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

“Our Komen trainees will participate in the rich diversity of interdisciplinary research at UAB,” said Associate Dean for Research Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN. “This includes the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and the Minority Health Research Center.”

The three UAB School of Nursing PhD students selected for the Komen Training grant are:

Jacqueline Bui, BSN, RN, a recent graduate of the UAB School of Nursing Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) Honors program, who is in the BSN-PhD program in the School. She is studying cardiovascular effects in breast cancer survivors. Bui also has been selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar. Prior to entering the PhD in Nursing Program, Bui worked as a staff nurse in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at UAB Hospital.

Jennifer Bail, BSN, RN, had a 10-year career in Huntsville, Ala., as a systems analyst working in the missile defense program. When her mother succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 55, she was driven to help women improve their health and quality of life. She left her corporate job and opened Jennifer Bail Wellness, providing health coaching and yoga for her clients. With a desire to further her education she enrolled in the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She also applied to and was accepted into the UAH Honors College. Here she discovered her love for research and chose the UAB School of Nursing PhD program due to the work of Meneses. Bail also is the recipient of a Colvin Memorial Fellowship and has been Named “Rising Star in Nursing,” Sigma Theta Tau International, Beta Phi Chapter. As part of her dissertation research, Bail is working to improve survivorship and quality of life in breast cancer survivors.

Timiya Nolan, MSN, CRNP, ANP-BC, has taught within undergraduate and RN Mobility nursing programs in the UAB School of Nursing. She also volunteered as an Adult Nurse Practitioner in the School’s PATH Clinic. She also is a recipient of a Colvin Memorial Fellowship and is a Jonas Scholar. Nolan's evolving research focus is centered on the survivorship of young breast cancer survivors. With a background in oncology nursing, Nolan has developed an appreciation for individual quality of life and a strong desire to improve the lives of those with cancer diagnoses. She is interested in disseminating evidence-based information and testing age-specific interventions to decrease disparities within this population, especially those in African Americans.

Earlier this year the UAB School of Nursing was awarded a three-year grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to provide these predoctoral scholars with stipends and other financial support, along with a specialized curriculum of didactic coursework, tailored research activities, networking and research career development skills building as they pursue training in breast cancer disparities.

Meneses said the program is important to UAB because it will help attract more minority students who are interested in defeating disparities in breast cancer.  The program is particularly important to the School of Nursing because it allows the doctoral degree program to increase predoctoral enrollment and funding in order to better meet the goal of training nurse scientists for the future. These goals include attracting top-level graduate students — specifically those from populations affected by disparities in breast cancer outcomes — into research careers; empower these students with the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively explore the causes of differential breast cancer outcomes; and develop interventions to reduce and eliminate such disparities. The program is also important to UAB because it will help attract more minority students who are interested in defeating disparities in breast cancer.

Meneses and Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., will serve as mentors or advisors for the Komen trainees.

Meneses is a preeminent internationally known researcher in cancer survivorship disparities research with a prolific and sustained history of scientific contributions, methodological innovations, and evidence-driven translational programs that have improved the lives of cancer survivors. In 2013, she was appointed to the Centers for Disease Control Advisory Board for Young Women with Breast Cancer.

Demark-Wahnefried is Professor and Webb Endowed Chair in Nutrition Sciences in the School of Health Professions. She holds a secondary appointment in the School of Nursing. She is the Associate Director of Cancer Prevention and Control at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and is an American Cancer Society clinical research professor.

Meneses and Demark-Wahnefried also serve as co-Directors of the University’s Cancer Prevention and Control R25 Training Program.
Read 8153 times Last modified on January 13, 2020

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