Anna Junkins, MS, an Epidemiology student and trainee in UAB’s Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program, is the latest doctoral student in the UAB School of Public Health (SOPH) to receive a prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31) from the National Cancer Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Anna Junkins, MSAnna Junkins, MSThe purpose of the F31 program is to identify and support exceptional predoctoral students who demonstrate a high probability of becoming independent investigators, exemplified by excellent academic progress, resolute endorsement from their mentors and department, and first-class training in their scientific discipline.

Junkins is a third-year PhD candidate in the Department of Epidemiology. She will be working with Drs. Sadeep Shrestha, Professor of Epidemiology, and Mirjam Kempf, Professor of Nursing, the sponsors of her F31 award, to fulfill the research and training objectives outlined in the award. Titled, “A mixed methods study examining early onset anal cancer and current screening practices, attitudes, and perceived risk among people living with and without HIV in the Deep South,” the award provides tuition and stiped support for two years. Through the fellowship, Junkins aims to identify characteristics that predict early onset anal cancer (less than 50 years old at diagnosis) by analyzing data in UAB’s Electronic Health Record. She will also employ mixed methods, both qualitative and quantitative approaches, in order to understand barriers and facilitators to anal cancer screening among both men living with HIV, a group at high risk for developing anal cancer, and their healthcare providers. Additional members of Junkins’ mentorship team include Dr. Greer Burkholder, Dr. Daniel Chu, and Dr. Jeffrey Szychowski.

“I am tremendously proud of Anna. This award is the result of all her hard work and perseverance. The fellowship is a stepping-stone and will assist her in developing an independent research career as she completes our program,” said Dr. Sadeep Shrestha, her advisor and dissertation committee chair. “It is very satisfying to see students like Anna and others in our department who follow through with applications to fund their dissertation research after completing a required grant writing course. As mentors, the academic successes and achievements of our students is the greatest reward.” To prepare her application, Junkins participated in the SOPH-wide doctoral grant writing course and subsequent summer workshop led by Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Paul Muntner, and Office of Research staff, Madeline Gibson, respectively. The course and workshop are offered every spring and summer and are open to all SOPH doctoral students in their second year and beyond. Interested students should consult their academic advisor and/or mentor prior to enrolling.

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