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Public Health Students Receive Prestigious Cancer Research Fellowship


Congratulations to Magdiel Habila and Dora Valencia, graduate students from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and recipients of the 2018 Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) Fellowship.

CEESP provides funding for master of public health (MPH) and doctoral students to conduct summer research in U.S. minority and global settings. The 15-week summer program provides special educational opportunities for students to learn about cancer epidemiology in special populations as well as translation of epidemiology into cancer control and prevention interventions.

Habila will spend the summer in Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, located in East Africa, to identify trends in demographics, receptor status, and treatment of individuals with cancer. The goal of this research is to determine if there is a relationship between these three factors, and how these factors might influence overall cancer survival. 

“I feel very privileged that I will be able to be a part of the process of raising awareness and developing solutions to disparities in cancer treatment and survival in Sub-Saharan Africa, said Habila. “I am excited to apply the skills and concepts that I have learned at the College of Public Health to real-world situations, and I look forward to growing as a researcher and as an individual by learning from the people I will work with.”

Valencia is an MPH student with a concentration in Family and Child Health - Global Health Tract. She will be working for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of Argentina in Buenos Aires, Argentina on a project to improve breast cancer screening and treatment for women.

Valencia will be working in the field with the NCI team and community health workers; conducting patient interviews and administrating a survey to further identify and characterize the delays and barriers that are experienced by women in Argentina. The ultimate goal is to find ways to provide better patient guidance and make policy changes to the public sector of the health system of Argentina. 

She believes the fellowship opportunity would never have been possible without the guidance of her mentors Irma Ramos, MD, associate professor of health promotion sciences in the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and Jorge Gomez, MD, PhD, assistant vice president for Translational Research in Special Populations at the University of Arizona Health Sciences.

Born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Valencia grew up in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico, a border town adjacent to the town of Douglas, Arizona. After graduating from high school Valencia moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona where she received a bachelor’s degree. 

“I loved the UA so much that I decided to stay to pursue graduate school as well," said Valencia. 

She is thefirst member of her family to attend both college and graduate school,

"I never thought that one day I would have the opportunity to conduct breast cancer research. I know that this opportunity will open up many doors in my future career.”

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