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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

UNC Cancer Prevention Initiatives

Cases of cervical cancer could virtually be eliminated through screening and vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV). The sexually transmitted virus also is linked to 69 percent of vulvar cancers, 75 percent of vaginal cancers, 63 percent of penile cancers, 91 percent of anal cancers and 72 percent of oropharyngeal cancers.

Dr. Jennifer Smith, associate professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, has worked for more than a decade to conduct research on the virus and to advocate for prevention of the cancers caused by HPV.

Dr. Smith has been awarded a Gillings Innovation Lab grant to investigate a novel HPV E6 biomarker as a triage test to improve cervical cancer screening programs and leverage an existing study in Mombasa, Kenya, that is funded by UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The project also will establish a collaboration between pathology departments at UNC and The University of Nairobi. The Innovation Labs, established in 2007 as part of the $50 million Gillings gift, are designed to solve public health problems and accelerate sustainable solutions across North Carolina and around the world.

Dr. Smith also was host and panel discussant for a Gillings School screening of the documentary Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic, in which she appeared as a featured expert. The documentary, which tells the story of five young women who contracted cervical cancer, is available for rent by schools, agencies, and other organizations to encourage HPV vaccination and screening.

As February is Black History Month as well as Cancer Prevention Month, UNC’s Program on Ethnicity, Culture and Health Outcomes (ECHO) will host Dr. Dan Reuland, clinical associate professor of medicine at UNC, for a talk on Friday, February 13, about “Improving Colorectal Cancer Screening in Diverse Vulnerable Populations.” More information is available by emailing

The late Dr. Robert Millikan, who through his research championed prevention and cure for breast cancer, especially among young Black women, will be remembered and memorialized with a day-long symposium at UNC on March 20.

The program will overview the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, provide a perspective on the epidemiology of breast cancer, discuss the role of science and breast cancer advocacy, an area of commitment to Dr. Millikan; and feature presentations by Dr. Millikan’s UNC colleagues and other national leaders in breast cancer.

More information is available online.