AACE Executive Council

(October 2022 – October 2023)

AACE is governed by an Executive Council that includes:

 

Officers

(ending year of term noted in parentheses)


   


   
President: Michelle Williams, PhD, MSPH, MPH, MCHES (2023)

Dr. Williams earned a bachelor of science degree and a master's of public health at Florida A&M University. She earned a PhD in health behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health. She completed her postdoctoral training in the UAB-VA Health Services, Outcomes, and Effectiveness Research training program, during which she also earned a master of science of public health in health outcomes.

Dr. Williams’ research is focused on developing population-specific health behavior interventions for cancer prevention and control that will lead to a reduction in cancer disparities. Since 2009, Dr. Williams has been conducting research in Ghana, West Africa, that is focused on cervical cancer prevention. Dr. Williams is also currently working on a study that is aimed at investigating the nutrition environments of breast cancer survivors in the Deep South. She looks forward to collaborating with investigators and students across campus on research aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing health disparities.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
President-Elect: John "Juan" Luque, PhD, MPH (2023)

John (Juan) Luque, PhD, MPH is Professor in the Institute of Public Health in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. Dr. Luque earned his MPH (epidemiology), and PhD (medical anthropology) from the University of South Florida, and postdoctoral training in behavioral oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center. He previously held faculty positions at the Medical University of South Carolina and Georgia Southern University, where he was a tenured Associate Professor. Dr. Luque’s research interests include community-based cancer education interventions to impact health disparities in medically underserved or racial/ethnic minority populations, knowledge and beliefs around cancer screening and prevention, and occupational safety practices among Hispanic farmworkers. This research has been supported by NIH and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. With Levi Ross, he co-edited a special issue on cancer prevention and control and African Americans for the Journal of Cancer Education. Dr. Luque has served on NIH review panels and has published over 70 scientific papers in anthropology, medicine, and public health. He is currently a Fellow for the Society for Applied Anthropology and a former Executive Board Member of the Society for Medical Anthropology. Additional Information (FAMU website).

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Vice President: Melissa Thomas, PhD, MSPH, MSA, MCHES (2023)

Dr. Thomas’s career has always centered on addressing the health needs of communities by designing, implementing and evaluating community-led health education and promotion initiatives, especially around cancer health disparities.  After combining undergraduate degrees in political science, Spanish, and psychology and a graduate degree in administration with a PhD in public health, Melissa has been able to lay the foundation of a diverse education experience that has truly strengthened her commitment to developing interventions aimed at improving the health of communities through changing behavior and systems.  Her true research passion centers on efforts to address the burden of disease in rural and Appalachia Ohio. Dr. Thomas established a community-led nonprofit organization, called the Center for Appalachia Research in Cancer Education (CARE), to provide a framework to guide her research initiatives.  The Amish and Mennonite Breast Health Project she founded, called Project Hoffnung ("Hope" in German), has served over 7,500 Amish and Mennonite women over a period of 24 years with women’s health care services in some of the most resourced-starved sections of the state and is now a multi-state initiative that continues to reach two of the world’s largest Amish settlements.  Dr. Thomas has successfully trained and continues to hire Amish and Mennonite Community Health Workers throughout Ohio who serve as direct links to the communities they serve. She also was the first to estimate breast cancer incidence and mortality rates among Amish women in Ohio.  In her former role as Founding Director of the Office of Health Equity at one of the largest healthcare providers in the state, Dr. Thomas led a statewide study testing the effectiveness of culturally competent education and healthcare services among Appalachian, Lesbian, Latinx, African American, Amish and Mennonite communities.  Her grant-funding experience has brought over $2 million in research and outreach dollars all dedicated to health disparities initiatives, mostly related to Amish and Mennonite community-led public health programs.

Current research projects include community-engaged cancer research initiatives in Appalachia Ohio and in Amish Country, identifying health outcomes and coping strategies among food insecure individuals in Appalachia, training and utilizing Community Health Workers in improving population health, improving medical education and health care resources for the LGBTQ+ community, and addressing the social determinants of health in rural communities.  

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Secretary: Vanessa Sheppard, PhD (2023)

Dr. Sheppard is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Policy in the School of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. She also serves as Associate Director for Disparities Research in the Massey Cancer Center and co-leads the Cancer Prevention and Control Program. Prior to joining VCU, Dr. Sheppard was tenured at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where she led studies focused on reducing inequities among cancer survivors through scholarship, teaching and service. Her team has been among the first to develop decision and communication support tools about systemic therapy for newly diagnosed African American, African-born, and Latino women. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and other entities focused on adherence to adjuvant hormonal therapy, improving physical activity in African American survivors, and examining patient-reported factors that influence receipt of recommended systemic therapies. Her long-term goal is to identify modifiable factors that have potential to promote optimal survival for women with breast cancer.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Treasurer: Katie Cueva, ScD, MAT, MPH (2023)

Dr. Cueva is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Health at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is also a CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow working with the Alaska Division of Public Health, and Associate Faculty with the Center for American Indian Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research interests include social determinants of health in the circumpolar north, culturally appropriate health promotion and healthcare delivery, community based participatory action research, and health equity. Dr. Cueva is a co-investigator on a National Cancer Institute award with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to develop, implement, and evaluate culturally relevant online cancer education with Alaska's community health aides/practitioners. She currently serves on the executive council of the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian caucus of the American Public Health Association. Her numerous awards include the R. Davilene Carter Presidential Prize for best submitted manuscript, the Selma Morris Memorial Travel Scholarship for "exceptionally promising work in global cancer education," and the Dr. Fang Ching Sun Memorial Award "for a demonstrated commitment to promoting the health of vulnerable people."

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   

Members at Large

(ending year of term noted in parentheses)


   
Kayoll Galbraith Gyan, PhD, RN (2025)

Dr. Kayoll Gyan, PhD, RN is the Associate Director of the Phyllis F. Cantor Center for Research in Nursing and Patient Care Services at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She is also a Nurse Scientist in Medical Oncology and Member of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Her program of research is focused on cervical cancer prevention among African American women, with a specific focus on social cultural determinants of health such as social support networks and religion & spirituality. Dr. Gyan aims to develop culturally and contextually appropriate interventions to improve awareness, knowledge and communication strategies among Black Americans and their healthcare providers regarding cancer prevention and symptom management. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journals such as Cancer Causes & Control, Translational Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Religion and Health, Ethnicity & Health, Social Science & Medicine, Journal of Cancer Education, American Journal of Public Health, and Oncology Nursing Forum. She is currently funded by a grant from Northeastern University that focuses on understanding the cervical cancer screening beliefs and practices of Black immigrant women in Massachusetts. She has been funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Cancer Prevention Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Cancer Institute and a Pre-Doctoral Training Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research. Dr. Gyan is a 2021 National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Award recipient and a 2018 National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities - Health Disparities Research Scholar.

Dr. Gyan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and her PhD in Nursing Research from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Disclosure Statement:
Disclosure coming soon


   
James Hamilton, MD (2023)

Dr. James Hamilton is an assistant professor with the department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He received his medical degree from the Jefferson Medical College and completed his otolaryngology residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He continued training with a fellowship in Head and Neck Oncology and Reconstruction at Emory University. His interests focus on the comprehensive management of benign and malignant lesions of the head and neck, minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and restoration of cosmesis and function through microvascular reconstruction.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Tina Papadakos, MA(Ed) (2025)

Tina Papadakos is Co-director of the Cancer Self-Management Research Centre and is Senior Manager of Educational Design & Knowledge Translation for Cancer Education at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Tina has a Master’s degree in Education, is a certified Knowledge Translation Specialist and Instructional Designer with 15 years of experience leading education programming in healthcare. Tina specializes in learner engagement (provider, students and patients/caregivers), co-creation and development of responsive, quality educational interventions aimed at closing gaps in patient care. Tina is an expert in plain language and health literate communications and has developed several programs aimed at building capacity for health literacy within healthcare institutions.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Georgia Robins Sadler, BSN, MBA, PhD (2023)

Georgia Robins Sadler, BSN, MBA, PhD has been on the faculty of the UCSD School of Medicine since the late 70’s. She has been involved in multiple areas of research, all with a common focus on creating and testing ways to reduce the nation’s cancer disparities. Among the cancer education programs she has created and proven the efficacy of, are those based in African American beauty salons, Asian grocery stores, and churches, and as well as a nationwide cancer education program for the Deaf community and programs for those who serve them. She has also helped to address the nation’s cancer disparities by creating and testing programs to increase the diversity of members of the research and health care professions. She has been a member of the American Association for Cancer Education since the early 1980s, always attending annual meetings and routinely bringing a cohort of student scientists with her to present their research findings. She has received numerous grant awards from the National Cancer Institute and also served as a permanent member of the NCI’s Study Section G, and as its Chair for two years. She served as the president of the California Division of the American Cancer Society and has received numerous awards recognizing her professional and volunteer contributions, including AACE’s own Margaret Hay Edwards Award.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Saima Saleem, PhD (2024)

Dr. Saima Saleem, an Associate Professor at the Karachi Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE), University of Karachi. Dr. Saleem, has received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from University of Karachi in 2012 and Post Doctorate in Biomedical Sciences, Ohio University, USA in 2013. She has spent more than 20 years in teaching and research and has been continuously involved in teaching Human Molecular Genetics, Cancer Genetics, Biosafety and Bioethics, Current Advances in Biotechnology, Research Methodology, Biostatistics and Research Communication Skills to M.Phil. and Ph.D. students form last 10 years. Her fields of expertise are Cancer Genomics and Cancer Biotechnology and Biology. She has established the cancer genetics working group at the institute and more than 12 research fellows are working on genetic mutations studies on different types of cancers. Dr. Saleem has been awarded with the status of “Principal Investigator” and “Higher Education Commission Approved Ph.D. Supervisor” for Biological Science since 2014 from Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. Her research activities encompass Cancer Genomics, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetic Engineering, Coagulation & Homeostasis and Platelet Aggregation. Currently, 08 Ph.D. and 15 M.Phil. students are enrolled under her supervision. She has published several original research articles of her research in journals of high impact. Dr. Saleem has also published a chapter on “Essential Steps in Writing Research Methodology”. Saleem has been granted 35 Genbank depositions at “National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)” on genetic polymorphism mutation sequences. Dr. Saima Saleem has been also serving as international BioRisk Master Trainer for Biosafety and Biosecurity by American Society of Microbiology (ASM) and Safer Behaviors (SB), Fogarty International Center: National Institute of Health FIC-NIH, USA for the behavioral based professional biosafety training in Pakistan since 2015. She is also serving as member of various National and International societies like American Association for Cancer Education (AACE) as member at large since 2019, Pakistan Biological Safety Association (PBSA) as Chapter Head PBSA Sindh since 2020, Pakistan Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PSBMB) since 2018, Clinical Oncology Society Australia (COSA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), International Academy of Oral Oncology (IAOO), German Genetics Society (GGS), Organization for Women in Science for Developing World (OWSD) Secretary, Pakistan National Chapter. Her research outcomes would significantly provide a vision of understanding in the field of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering focusing on Cancer Biology and Thrombosis research by providing rapid, efficient and cost effective methods of early diagnosis to serve the community at large.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Liudmila N. Schafer, MD, FACP (2024)

Liudmila Schafer, MD, FACP is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Director of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at the Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute, Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Schafer is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, a Teaching Scholar, and has earned certification in Clinical and Translational Research. Her fellowship training in Medical Oncology was at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee. Her previous Faculty Position as an Associate Professor of Medicine was at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Arkansas.
 
Dr. Schafer is involved in education of hematology-oncology fellows, residents, medical students, and advance nurse practitioners. She is a grant recipient in educational research and presented her work at the International Cancer Education Conference (ICEC). She served in Council Leadership and was an Academic Advisor for the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, mentoring over 100 medical students at the Little Rock, AR campus.
 
Serving as a member of various national and international societies is important to her. These include the American Association for Cancer Education (AACE), American Association of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American College of Physicians (ACP), Arkansas Medical Society, Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC), and Educators Academy at UAMS. Dr. Schafer was elected a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP). She served on the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Selection Committee at UAMS, Women’s Faculty Development Caucus Mentoring Committee (WFDC) for medical students and faculty, institutional conflict of interest committee, and clinical competency among other committees.
 
She serves on the national and institutional committees such as the Membership Committee and the Executive Council of the American Association for Cancer Education (AACE), Institutional Review Board (IRB) committee at Saint Luke’s Health System, and moderator for the multidisciplinary tumor board at her institution among other clinical, leadership and educational activities.
 
Dr. Schafer’s clinical interests include medical oncology with an emphasis on gastrointestinal and neuroendocrine cancers as well as a passion to deliver personalized patient care as part of a multidisciplinary approach. She has presented her work on Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) at national conferences. Currently, she serves in the role of principal investigator and co-investigator for clinical trials.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   

   

Chair, Advisory Committee (Immediate Past President)

Jill Hamilton, PhD, RN, FAAN (2023)

Jill Hamilton, R.N., Ph.D. FAAN is Associate Professor and Senior Faculty Fellow of SDOH & Health Disparities at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Affiliate Professor at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dr. Hamilton earned her BSN, MSN, and PhD in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a BS in Accounting from North Carolina Central University, and postdoctoral training in the nursing care of older adults at the Oregon Health & Science University. She previously held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was tenured Associate Professor.  Dr. Hamilton’s research interests include social determinants of health, health disparities, and the mental health promoting strategies used among older African American their families in response to life-threatening illness.  Dr. Hamilton is published on topics related to culture, social support, religiosity, spirituality, and quality of life among African Americans with life-threatening illness. She has done original research on the effects of Storytelling that incorporates religious songs and scripture on psychological distress among older and younger African Americans. The findings from this research are published in Cancer Nursing, the Journal of Religion and Health, the Gerontologist, and Nursing Research. She was a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar from 2003-2007 and a member of the 2014 Class of the UNC Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars. Dr. Hamilton is currently a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and a Faculty Scholar of the Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health at Duke University.  She was the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina and the 2011 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Publishing’s Division Award for Excellence in Writing Qualitative Research. Dr. Hamilton’s work on religious songs was featured in the November 2012 Thanksgiving edition of Good Housekeeping magazine. 

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   

EACE President

Radoslaw Tarkowski, MD

Radoslaw Tarkowski is surgical oncologist dedicated to women with breast cancer. With a background as an academic teacher (Wroclaw Medical University, Poland) and surgeon, he's been involved in cancer education for 25 years. His main area of interest is improving the quality of breast cancer treatment and quality of life of survivors thorough proper education and new surgical techniques implemented in local hospitals after trainings in Italy, Germany and Israel. Active as a surgeon, Dr. Tarkowski strongly believes in non-technical skills and their immense impact on quality of treatment.

He was fascinated by the ideas presented by Professor Arthur M. Michalek during the course of his cancer research training. The motto of the event, which was held at Wroclaw Medical University, was the words of Dalai Lama, "Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality." Dr. Tarkowski's favorite oncological transcription of the quotation is, "Deliver cancer education. It's a way to reduce mortality.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   

Ex-Officio Members

Erika Ginsburg, MA, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD

As the Chief of the Office of Training and Education within NCI’s Center for Cancer Training (CCT), Erika uses her passion for training and mentorship to manage career development programs for trainees. She develops, coordinates, and evaluates many career development workshops, courses, and programs in the CCT to help retain trainees in the biomedical workforce and to better prepare fellows to transition to independence. Erika leads the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women Scientists, NIH Fellows Editorial Board, NCI Explore On-Site program, and the Business of Science course, just to name a few.

Before joining CCT, Erika had a long career in NCI’s intramural program where she studied prolactin’s action on breast cancer. Together with Dr. Barbara Vonderhaar, she was the first to demonstrate that human breast cancer cells synthesize and secrete significant amounts of biologically active prolactin. She mentored over 150 trainees while in the Laboratory and has over 50 publications in the fields of drug metabolism, and hormone regulation of the normal and cancerous breast. Erika continues to advocate for NCI trainees to facilitate and promote training opportunities by working closely with them and their research mentors.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose


   
Nastaran Zahir, PhD, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD

As Chief of the Cancer Training Branch (CTB) within NCI’s Center for Cancer Training (CCT), Dr. Nastaran Zahir oversees the extramural portfolio in fellowships, career development awards, training grants, and cancer research education grants. Before joining CCT in 2021, Dr. Zahir served as Associate Director for the Physical Sciences-Oncology Network and Program Director for the Structural Biology and Molecular Applications Branch in NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology (DCB). In those roles, she coordinated programs that integrate physical sciences perspectives in cancer research, fostered collaborative team science, supported education, outreach, and advocacy activities, and promoted resources for data sharing and biospecimen standards. Dr. Zahir has also served as Chair of the NCI Early Stage Investigator (ESI) Activities Committee, which plays a key role in planning and implementing NCI priorities for ESIs. In her role as Chief of the Cancer Training Branch, Dr. Zahir envisions expanding cross-disciplinary training opportunities for the next generation of cancer researchers.

Dr. Zahir's passion for advancing the integration of physical sciences and oncology stems from a decade of transdisciplinary research at the intersection of these fields. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley while a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the areas of plasma physics and radiation biology and imaging. Dr. Zahir received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania at the Institute for Medicine and Engineering where she investigated spatial-mechanical regulation of mammary morphogenesis and therapeutic resistance. Her postdoctoral training was at the NIH National Institute of Arthritis, and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases where she studied stem cell biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. During that time, Dr. Zahir also served as Senior Editor of the NIH Fellows Editorial Board. In 2009, she joined the NIH extramural program as a Program Director at the NCI Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives in the former Office of Physical Sciences-Oncology. Throughout her career, Dr. Zahir has co-authored research publications in biological and physical sciences. She has also taught undergraduate courses in cancer biology at the University of Pennsylvania and graduate courses in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine at the NIH Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences.

Disclosure Statement:
No relevant financial relationships to disclose