NRG Oncology Awards 11 Fellows for the Early Career & New Investigator Mentored Fellowship Program

June 09 2023

NRG Oncology recently selected 11 individuals to be NRG Early Career & New Investigator (ECNI) Fellows on behalf of the organization. Each individual comes with a different area of concentration for their career focus. NRG ECNI Fellows will have the opportunity to be engaged via close mentorship with the ECNI Liaison and Chairs of their assigned NRG disease site committee for the one-year term.

Meet the NRG Oncology ECNI Fellows!

Vikram Jairam, MD
Focus: Brain Cancer

Dr. Jairam is an Assistant Professor of Therapeutic Radiology at Yale University working extensively using large national databases and institutional databases to study clinical outcomes in oncology with particular focus on cancer care that affects the quality of life, patient safety, and survivorship in patients with cancer. Dr. Jairam is Yale’s site principal investigator for the NRG-CC009 clinical study comparing stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) to hippocampal-avoidant, whole-brain radiotherapy (HA-WBRT) to see if HA-WBRT is better at preventing memory loss and neurocognitive decline. Dr. Jairam has a special interest in exploring ways to mitigate neurocognitive decline in patients receiving cranial irradiation.

Julia Foldi, MD, PhD
Focus: Breast Cancer

Dr. Foldi is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh, has clinical responsibilities treating patients with breast cancer at the Magee-Womens Hospital Cancer Center, and is engaged in research activities at the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She is a recently added member of the NRG Oncology Breast Cancer Committee and is currently the NRG champion for the SWOG S2206 clinical study of neoadjuvant durvalumab and chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone for patients with MammaPrint ultrahigh (MP2) hormone receptor positive, HER2 negative stage II-III breast cancer. Dr. Foldi’s current research is focused on hormone receptor positive breast cancers with a particular interest in invasive lobular breast cancers and mechanisms of endocrine resistance. 

Abigail Zamorano, MD
Focus: Cancer Prevention & Control

Dr. Zamorano is an Assistant Professor of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at McGovern Medical School. She is also the Director of the Houston PAP Project, a no-cost cervical cancer screening program. She is a current member of the NRG Early Career & New Investigator Committee, the NRG Health Disparities Committee, and the NRG Cervix and Vulvar Cancer Subcommittee, as well as was a 2022 recipient of the GOG Foundation New Investigator Award. Dr. Zamorano has a research interest in geographic disparities in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gynecologic malignancies. She aims to expand the work that she began during her fellowship as a part of a T32 award in cancer prevention and control exploring geographic disparities in ovarian cancer postoperative outcomes, global variations of human papillomavirus subtypes, pre-diagnosis body mass index and ovarian cancer mortality, and the risk of vaginal and cervical dysplasia after vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia and vulvar cancer. She plans to use the NRG Early Career and New Investigator Mentored Fellowship to evaluate inclusion of geographic assessments in clinical trial evaluation and design so as to meaningfully include disparate populations in cancer research. 

Laura Chambers, DO
Focus: Developmental Therapeutics, Gynecologic Cancer

Dr. Chambers is an Assistant Professor of Gynecologic Oncology at The Ohio State University Wexner College of Medicine. Her clinical responsibilities include surgical and medical treatment for women diagnosed with uterine, cervical, ovarian, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. Dr. Chambers research interests include novel therapeutics to overcome and improve outcomes in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and strategies to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy in women with gynecologic cancers. Her specific and unique focus includes the understanding of how the microbiome may be harnessed as a therapeutic target for systemic chemotherapy and immunotherapy. She also has led several studies that resulted in peer-reviewed publications and awards, including the Best Oral Presentation at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Winter Meeting in 2020 and the First-place Fellow Oral Presentation Award at the Cleveland Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology Annual Research Day in 2021.

Vaia Florou, MD, MS
Focus: Gastrointestinal (Colorectal) Cancer

Dr. Florou is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Huntsman Cancer Institute. Additionally, she is a current member of the NRG Early Career & New Investigators Committee, the NRG Gastrointestinal Cancer Committee, and the NRG Developmental Therapeutics Committee. Dr. Florou’s research has been primarily focused on biomarker-driven clinical studies particularly in gastrointestinal cancers, including her leading the development of an investigator-initiated trial focused on colorectal cancer. She is the principal investigator for multiple cooperative group and industry-sponsored trials and was also appointed the Associate Director of the Phase 1 Program for Solid Oncology at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Leila Tchelebi , MD
Focus: Gastrointestinal (Non-Colorectal) Cancer

Dr. Tchelebi is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She has an interest in both gastrointestinal (GI) oncology and radiation therapy quality. Dr. Tchelebi has developed quite a presence in the GI oncology community through her efforts growing the Penn State University Cancer Institute’s GI program during her tenure there, prior to her current career at Northwell.  She is a member of the American Radium Society (ARS) GI Committee where she has had the opportunity to collaborate on many national guidelines for the management of GI malignancies, as well authored manuscripts regarding the treatment of GI malignancies, and serves on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) pancreas cancer radiation therapy working group. In addition to her work in GI oncology, Dr. Tchelebi is a member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s (ASTRO) Multi-disciplinary Quality Assurance Committee, where she helps lead efforts to improve radiation therapy quality nationally. She is a member of the NRG Oncology GI Committee and the NRG Early Career & New Investigators Committee. Currently, at Northwell, Dr. Tchelebi has had the opportunity to combine her experiences with GI oncology and radiation therapy quality assurance.

Krishnan R. Patel, MD
Focus: Genitourinary Cancer

Dr. Patel is an Assistant Research Physician at the Radiation Oncology Branch of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI). His practice focuses on the treatment of genitourinary malignancies with an emphasis on the development of novel radiotherapy paradigms as well as the clinical translation of adjunctive treatments from bench-to-bedside. His work focuses primarily on exploiting newly developed imaging techniques in target delineation, artificial intelligence, and profiling the oncologic efficacy, toxicity, the immunologic impact of novel of high dose-per-fraction treatment strategies (i.e., SBRT). Dr. Patel was recently awarded the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Career Development Award to develop an artificial intelligence-based targeting method for patients with localized prostate cancer. Dr. Patel serves as both co-investigator of ten ongoing NCI studies and the principal investigator of a phase II trial attempting to define the oncologic efficacy of a new target definition method for patients with prostate cancer who are undergoing stereotactic body radiotherapy. He is also currently a junior member of the NRG Genitourinary Committee and NRG Developmental Therapeutics Committee.

Gary Lewis, MD
Focus: Head & Neck Cancer

Dr. Lewis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). His primary research is focused on the management of side effects from radiation for head and neck cancer patients and his career is currently focused on translating basic science and technologic research to clinical trial research. Dr. Lewis is a principal investigator on multiple cooperative group clinical trials at UAMS and is involved in the design, development, and leadership of trials for head and neck cancer patients. Dr. Lewis is a member of the NRG Cervix and Vulva Cancer Committee and the NRG Head and Neck Cancer Committee as well as a member of the Head & Neck Cancer International Group (HNCIG) Young Investigator Committee, the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) New Practitioner Committee, the Radiation Oncology Education Collaborative Study Group (ROECSG) Graduate Medical Educational Working Group, and a Resident Representative at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

David P. Qian, MD, PhD
Focus: Lung Cancer

Dr. Qian is a Chief Resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Emory University and will also graduate from the Medical Innovation Residency Track in June 2023. Later this fall, he will start his career as Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. His research interests reside at the intersection of clinical trials and data science: the analysis of high-dimensional imaging, biomolecular, and medical informatics data. During training, Dr. Qian has received an NIH T32 Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) grant, won an AACR Scholar-in-Training Award for genomic analysis of outcome disparities in lung cancer stratified by sociodemographic factors, earned an ASCO Conquer Cancer Merit Award for transcriptomic analyses of response to adjuvant radiotherapy in lower-grade glioma, and reported the impact of circadian rhythm on immunotherapy efficacy in advanced melanoma as lead author in Lancet Oncology. In his final year of residency, he received an ASCO Young Investigator Award and Nell W. & William S. Elkin Fellowship to fund a prospective trial that further examines time-of-day influence on immunotherapy benefit.

Kristin Taylor, MD
Focus: Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Taylor is a Co-Investigator at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her research aims include improving our understanding of platinum-resistant and platinum-refractory ovarian cancer as well as developing biomarkers and conducting clinical trials to improve outcomes for this patient population. Dr. Taylor is a co-Principal Investigator for a Phase I/II investigator-initiated trial aimed to treat patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer using pharmacologic FAK inhibition together with carboplatin and paclitaxel. Using a large biorepository at her institution, she is working to identify serum and tissue biomarkers for early identification of patients with primary platinum-refractory disease after treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. In addition to her research, Dr. Taylor is also a member of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Jessica St. Laurent, MD
Focus: Uterine Cancer

Dr. St. Laurent is currently completing here fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute where she will be starting as faculty in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the summer. Her research interests include improving the care of patients with endometrial cancer and understanding how chromatin structure and gene regulatory mechanisms contribute to the development of cancer in the female reproductive tract. She has a background in studying the effects of mutations in mammalian SWI/SNF complex subunits on chromatin architecture and the development of endometrial cancer as well as research in rare cancer models to advance fundamental reproductive biology. Dr. St. Laurent is a Reproductive Science Development Program Scholar and current member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the International Society for the Study of Trophoblastic Diseases, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, and the American Association for Cancer Research. 

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