International Breast Cancer and Nutrition

Training and Education

A major goal of IBCN is to lead the way for the training of current and future generations of scholars and practitioners in primary prevention research. This scientific area is still young, and many of the scientific processes used for research on cancer detection and treatment do not apply to primary prevention that deals with cancer risk and not with established cancers.

Our training programs are intended to provide individuals with the possibility of working across disciplines from humanities to social sciences, medicine, engineering and natural sciences, in teams, and to become culturally-aware scholars and practitioners. Understanding the impact of culture on cancer onset is essential in light of the relation gene-environment that is at the core of risk stratification, and also because a global approach to prominent health issues should bring the diversity necessary to pinpoint essential pathways to cancer onset.

In this section, information on our trainees and their projects is made available in order to show the breadth of the IBCN research projects in which interested individuals can partake from around the globe. Some of these trainees have been awarded IBCN travel fellowships to gain experience abroad. We also provide a glimpse at the educational programs that have been inspired by IBCN goals and, in turn, have helped us further develop our endeavors. We present long distance learning courses developed by IBCN members to promote primary prevention research internationally.

Outreach is another important aspect of sharing information on primary prevention research. Education programs are being developed to update the public on progress in primary prevention of breast cancer based on scientifically sound data. As information leaflets are completed, they will be available on this site.


Training is possible at all levels and from all disciplines under the IBCN umbrella. Our trainees involve undergraduate and graduate students, as well as visiting scholars and medical professionals wishing to participate in research and who work under the umbrella of one or more IBCN members on a project related to primary prevention of breast cancer. Internship can last for a few weeks, a few months or a few years and be part of various degree conferring programs from partner institutions and supported by different funding programs. We make every effort to involve trainees in multidisciplinary projects wherever they are. Training is tailored to the interest and career goals of the individuals. Although scientific rigor is the backbone of any training provided under IBCN, flexibility for the training options is also an essential aspect.

IBCN Travel Fellowship

Our goal is to foster primary prevention research across the globe and facilitate partnerships among different countries. Only scarce funds are available for international exchange. Therefore, we have developed initiatives to raise funds via donations spurred by the creation of the IBCN fashion line and the fall barn-bash, to support a fellowship program for training exchange. The first IBCN travel fellowship was bestowed in 2014. To compete for this fellowship, trainees should be accepted in the team of an IBCN member from another country and justify how the research project for the internship responds to IBCN goals and serves the career development of the trainee.

Visiting Scholars

Teona Cozianu CotanName: Teona Cozianu Cotan, MD

School: Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iasi, Romania.

Dr. Teona Cozianu Cotan has graduated with high honors from “Grigore T. Popa” University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iasi, Romania. She soon started her training as an Obstetrics and Gynecology resident and after practicing for 2 months she migrated with her husband to the US where she wants to pursue a carrier in the same field. Dr. Cozianu Cotan feels blessed to be part of two different cultures and admits her journey in achieving her dreams was enriching and inspiring.

In January 2013 Dr. Cozianu Cotan joined the IBCN project as a Visiting Scholar.  Her primary research goal is to build a database that will include all the nutrients that have been proven to have an influence on breast cancer epigenetics. She considers nutritional epigenetics to be a new active and exciting area of research and she hopes to expand the knowledge in this field, but also to better understand how nutrients and bioactive food components can be a tool in maintaining a good health (in general) and prevent different types of cancer, especially breast cancer.  Her work is focused on nutrients that have a high impact at the level of gene expression by ways of DNA methylation and modifications of the chromatin structure by histones acetylation and methylation.

 As a future doctor, she acknowledges the role that nutrigenomics will play in prevention strategies in cancer and chronic diseases. She is not only thrilled to be a part of the IBCN project team, but she is looking forward to contributing as much to the project.

In her free time, she likes painting, reading and spending time with her friends, but she also enjoys travelling and meeting new people and other cultures.

Laurence GabrielName: Laurence Gabriel

Bio: She received her MA in Business law with a focus on international law in 1995 and has been working as a legal counselor ever since. Her strong interest for public health matters led her to graduate with an LL.M. in health law from the School of Law and Political Science of the University of Rennes 1 in 2009. She joined the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Program Project to partake in international endeavours to develop this project globally.

Project: Laurence has been involved in the development of aspects related to bioethics of primary prevention research and the collection and study of legal information related to breast cancer management in different countries involved in the IBCN collaboration.

Graduate Students

Dana BazzounName: Dana Bazzoun

Year: Ph.D student

Advisor: Rabih Talhouk

Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

School: American University of Beirut (AUB), Beirut, Lebanon

Bio: Dana Bazzoun has a bachelor degree in Biology from AUB and a master’s degree in molecular biology from the Lebanese American University. She is a third year PhD student and currently a visiting research in Dr. Sophie Lelievre's laboratory at Purdue University in Indiana-USA. She has been there for a year as part of her UNESCO-L'Oreal international fellowship for women in science in 2012, which is renewed for 2013. She is involved in the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition (IBCN) project, focusing on primary breast cancer prevention. The IBCN was founded at Purdue with 7 other partner countries including Lebanon. She has published a paper “Modulation of Cx43 and Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication by Androstenedione in Rat Polycystic Ovary and Granulosa Cells in vitro” in the Journal of Reproduction and Infertility in December 2011 and another "Polarity Proteins as Regulators of Cell Junction Complexes: Implications for Breast Cancer" in the Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 2013. She is also part of other joint projects between Purdue University and the AUB and has three manuscripts in preparations in 2013. Her poster abstract was one of the four abstract selected for the Catherine Peachey Foundation Award, where she gave a ten minutes oral presentation in addition to receiving a cash award in the IBCN symposium at Purdue in 2012.

Project: Dana Bazzoun has been working on a breast cancer project that involves a major protein connexin 43 (Cx43) which is thought to have tumor suppressive roles and is part of the gap junction (GJ) that mediates cell-cell communications. Dr. Talhouk's team at the AUB over-expressed this protein in breast cancer cell lines. This resulted in enabling the cells to acquire a normal-like phenotype instead of a cancerous one (this work has been sent for publication). As such, the next step is to work on a nonneoplastic mammary epithelial cell line, which is along the line of primary breast cancer prevention, where Cx 43 is silenced and the effects on differentiation and normal behavior of those cells will be observed. Dana is working with both Dr. Talhouk and Dr. Sophie Lelièvre, aiming to understand how this protein (Cx43) regulates the cell architecture, direction of division that have to be strictly maintained for proper differentiation of the mammary epithelium and cancer prevention.

 As part of the IBCN, Dana has also been working on characterizing different breast epithelial cell lines derived from normal breast tissues of patients who are at different risks of developing cancer. This collaborative project is between Dr. Lelièvre and Dr. Herbert at Indiana University Cancer Center. The derived cell lines were cultured and assessed for their potential to form apical polarity so that apical polarity formation can correlate with breast cancer risk which will feed into primary prevention and risk assessment.

Charity Woodard
 Charity Woodard

Year: Graduate Student


Major: Science Education

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: Charity Woodard is a graduate student in the college of education pursuing a Master’s of Science Education.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in 1999 and completed the Transition to Teaching in Life Sciences Education at Purdue in 2007.  She currently teaches biology and biomedical sciences at Frankfort High School in Frankfort Indiana.

Course development: Chronic disease is the leading cause of death in developed countries and the second leading cause of death in developing countries.  It is imperative to develop programs and treatments to combat these largely preventable diseases.  Quality research is necessary to develop long-term solutions in disease prevention and treatment.  In order to create a unified, global focus, adequate training and education on the research of chronic diseases must be available.  The goal of the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition (IBCN) course is to provide the skills necessary for leadership roles in primary prevention of chronic diseases.  This goal will be achieved via development of an understanding of chronic disease primary prevention and how research on this topic should be conducted.  The IBCN course is being prepared for distance learning with reading materials, video lectures, case studies, and interactive tasks.  Topics addressed will be: an introduction to chronic disease and primary prevention, the impact of the environment on genes, disease risk assessment, interdisciplinary research in primary prevention, ethics in primary prevention research, and knowledge implementation.  A HUB-based interactive database on epigenetic traits of genes involved in breast cancer and the impact of nutrients on epigenetic mechanisms and genes is being built in conjunction with the course.

Tharindu MatthewName: C. D. Tharindu Mathew

Year: Ph.D student

Advisor: Ann Christine Catlin

Major: Computer Science

School: Purdue University

Bio: C. D. Tharindu Mathew is a Graduate student in the Computer Science department at Purdue University.

Project: I worked on creating the data input forms for the IBCN databases on breast epigenetics and environmental epigenetics and creating the data views to explore and view that data. 

Project Support: Purdue University Global Policy Research Institute 

Charbel BousabaName: Charbel BouSaba

Advisor: Martine Bellanger, National School of Public Health (EHESP), France and Mary Beth Terry, Columbia University (USA)

School: National School of Public Health (EHESP, France)

Bio: My name is Charbel BouSaba. I am a master of public health student at EHESP – French school of public health in Paris. I graduated in July 2012 from Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon with an M.D. Degree, and I joined the MPH program in Paris in August 2012. During my medical studies I was always interested in public health and epidemiology. My thesis for my medical degree was about the epidemiology of HPV in Lebanese men. My interest for chronic diseases epidemiology grew when I was studying for my MPH in Paris. This led me to do my internship in New York about Breast cancer epidemiology at Columbia University- Mailman School of public health under the supervision of Dr. Mary Beth Terry.

Project: My project at Columbia University is entitled ‘Cancer Prevention, Environmental Epidemiology and Risk Stratification’. It is a four month research project, where I will be working on several studies including a large family-based cohort at Columbia as well as clinical based studies of women recruited through the screening program at Columbia.  My exposure to several studies will help me gain experience in primary data collection as well as experience in conducting scientific literature reviews and longitudinal analyses. By the end of my internship, I will be writing a manuscript that will be used as my Masters’ thesis and then published as scientific paper. 

Project Support: IBCN travel fellowship

Peik Sean ChongName: C. D. Tharindu Mathew

Advisor: Sophie Lelièvre, Barbara Stefanska

Major: Nutrition

School: Purdue University

Bio: I am an international scholar and currently a junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences pursuing a Bachelor's degree in nutrition science.  I was granted Malaysia Public Service Department Oversea Scholarship for my undergraduate studies in the United States.  Through the Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship (DURI) Program, I joined the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Project in the fall of 2013 as an undergraduate intern.  I plan to pursue graduate study in nutritional science after graduation in 2015.

Project: I have been working on the IBCN project titled "Investigation of the epigenetic impact of foods on the breast epithelium" since the fall of 2013 as an IBCN student intern through the DURI program. The main objective of this research is to understand the epigenetic pathway of breast cancer risk and to identify the epigenetic effects of dietary agents on breast cancer risk via analysis of food components from authentic local foods of different countries.  In the fall of 2013, my primary task was to analyze the recipe books, create a food database and identify the top 10 core ingredients for each subcategory of each country.  Subsequently, I started investigating the macronutrients and micronutrients of the core ingredients via the food list database of the USDA National Agriculture Library.  Right now, I am working on the nutrient analysis of the matched dietary agents with potential protective effects against breast cancer by using the Purdue HUB-based breast epigenetics and environmental epigenetics databases as a research tool.  This project will continue with the analysis of the impact of the core ingredients identified on epigenetic pathways that control the homeostasis of the breast epithelium using three-dimensional cell culture that mimic different levels of breast cancer risk. 

Project Support: Discovery park Undergraduate Research Internship (DURI) 

LaTasha SwansonName: LaTasha R. Swanson

Year: Ph.D student

Advisor: Erina MacGeorge

Major: Communication

School: Purdue University

Bio: I am originally from Indianapolis, Indiana and currently pursuing a PhD in Strategic Communication through the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University.  With interests in message design and social marketing campaigns, my focus is on using communication to help modify and explore behaviors and attitudes.  

Along with being a PhD student, I also serve as Director of Student Recruitment for the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University and I hold an M.B.A. in Marketing from Indiana University Kelley School of Business and a B.A. in Graphic Design from Indiana University.  I hope to utilize my understanding of marketing, graphic design, and communication to help others and influence positive change in healthcare and higher education.

Project: The general public is becoming aware that diet affects cancer risk.  However, there is much less public awareness that these effects begin well before adulthood.  In the case of breast cancer, recent research indicates that nutrition prior to puberty influences breast cancer risk in adulthood, with specific risk factors that include dietary composition (especially fat intake), body mass index (BMI), and growth.  Unfortunately, there is little public understanding of the connection between diet and a long-lasting epigenetic effect on the activity of genes that encourage or discourage cancer.  Parents and caregivers of young children (infancy-school age) are typically concerned about their children’s health and development, and involved in decisions about their children’s diet.  Providing parents/caregivers with targeted information about the link between childhood nutrition and breast cancer can strengthen their intention to have a positive influence on their children’s diet.  To address this issue in the current project, we propose to design, test for efficacy, and disseminate brief educational materials that (1) help caregivers understand the connection between childhood nutrition and primary prevention of breast cancer, and (2) provide evidence-based recommendations for children’s diet.

 Ruchith Fernando

Year: Ph.D student

Advisor: Ann Christine Catlin

Major: Computer Science

School: Purdue University

Bio: Ph.D Student, Computer Science

Project: Designed and developed the data scraping capabilities, required to capture epigenetic data for the breast epigenetics database of the IBCN.

Project Support: Purdue University Global Policy Research Institute 

Yunfeng BaiName: Yunfeng Bai

Year: Ph.D student

Advisor: Sophie Lelièvre

Major: Basic Medical Sciences

School: Purdue University

Bio: I obtained my B.S. in Biotechnology in 1998 and M.S. in Genetics in 2007 from Northeast Normal University in China.  In 2009, I joined Dr. Lelièrve's team at Purdue University as a Ph.D. student.  The major goal of my Ph.D. research is trying to understand some early cellular events potentially required for cancer initiation, particularly, the role of NuMA (nuclear mitotic apparatus protein) in nuclear architecture control and CDS1 (CDP-diacylglycerol synthase 1) in mammary epithelial polarity maintenance.  I was awarded the Cancer Prevention Internship Program (CPIP) fellowship 2012-2013 and I am currently supported by a Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) fellowship (2013-2014).

Project: In addition to my major research project on the impact of nuclear and tissue architecture on breast epithelial homeostasis, I also participated in the IBCN databases project.  The importance of epigenetic misregulation on carcinogenesis has promoted the design of the IBCN epigenetics database exclusively focused on breast cancer onset-relevant genes and their epigenetic control and further linked to an Environmental Epigenetics database.  The databases are being developed in collaboration with the computer science team of Ann Christine Catlin; the databases should benefit researchers, health practitioners and anybody with an interest in breast cancer prevention.  It not only contains general epigenetic information, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, and long non-coding RNAs, on a per gene basis, but it also includes causal factors, like the environment and human behaviors, leading to epigenetic changes.  The IBCN epigenetics databases are specifically designed to address the risk for breast cancer initiation caused by epigenetic modifications, hence serving the research and training goals of the IBCN program.  I have contributed to the establishment of datasheets as well as the DNA methylation data collection. I am continuing to work on data collection for more epigenetic marks.

Project Support: Discovery park Undergraduate Research Internship (DURI)

Iliana TenvoorenName: Iliana Tenvooren

Year: Ph.D student

Advisor: Sophie Lelièvre

Major: Cell Biology

School: University of Lyon (France)

Bio: My name is Iliana TENVOOREN and I am 23 years old.  I was born in France where I have received my education and training.  Currently, I am a graduate student in the Master’s of Génétique, Biologie Cellulaire et Pathologie (GBCP), at Claude Bernard University in Lyon.  My studies focus on genetics and cell biology. As part of the Master’s program, I had the opportunity to do an 8-month internship in a research laboratory. I have always been interested in oncology and human physiology studies. This is why I contacted Dr. Lelièvre whose laboratory works on breast cancer.

Project: My project is to improve the understanding of the link between breast cancer initiation and obesity.  Using 3D cell culture, we are able to mimic the behavior of the phenotypically normal human breast tissue in the laboratory so that we can test the impact of the environment under physiologically relevant conditions.  My project is to help establish an in vitro model of obesity for the mammary epithelium and study the impact of a fat cell protein named leptin on mammary epithelial architecture using this model.   

Project Support: This work is supported by a grant from the Obesity and Cancer Discovery Group, Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, with funds from the Walther Cancer Center Institute.

Undergraduate Students

Name: Emma Clohessy and Courtney Sanor

Year: Senior

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Political Science

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Project: For the birth of IBCN, in 2009 and 2010, two undergraduate students, Emma Clohessy (political science) and Courtney Sanor (Health Sciences) were instrumental in getting the international partnerships with different countries started. Their tasks were to identify countries with interest in breast cancer research and nutrition on various continents, and gather information on breast cancer incidence and other parameters for these countries. They also searched for possible contacts in each country selected for further information and initiated interactions with international networks with an interest in health.

Amanda HaanName: Amanda Haan

Year: Junior-Senior

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Nutrition Sciences

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Project: The present global increase of breast cancer incidence requires a heightened focus on primary prevention by environmental factors, such as nutrition, that induce epigenetic changes protecting epithelial homeostasis. The earliest structural change in mammary glandular epithelium units (acini) known to precede breast cancer initiation is apical polarity loss. Amanda uses a three-dimensional human cell culture model to recapitulate differentiation of non-neoplastic (S1) mammary cells, whereby the formation of tight junctions surrounding a central lumen creates apical polarity in acini, which enables her to study the effects of nutrients on apical polarity. She has shown that DNA methylation, an epigenetic modification that controls gene expression, particularly influences the formation of apical polarity. The project focus on folate, an essential cofactor in the transfer of methyl groups to nucleotides. Dietary folate deficiency is known to induce global DNA hypomethylation, local hypermethylation, and DNA damage, all of which contribute to breast cancer onset. Paradoxically, folic acid supplementation has been shown to increase breast cancer risk.  The goal of the project is to investigate whether apical polarity is protected or altered by folate through epigenetic mechanisms and whether protection or alteration of apical polarity by folate depends on the stage of epithelial differentiation.

Alexandria HairstonName: Alexandria Hairston

Year: Sophomore

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Brain and Behavioral sciences

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Project: Alexandria’s task is to come up with and research criteria related to behavior that could influence the epigenome and add it to the International breast cancer and nutrition database. Behavior, in general, is the response of the system or organism to various stimuli and inputs. Many things can have an effect on behavior, such as the environment in which the organism lives or new conditions the organism may get exposed to. Right now she is focusing on researching behavioral aspects such as stress and anxiety and their effect on the epigenome. Although her current research topic is stress, she is also interested in the effect fitness and the behavior of different cultures has on the epignome and hope to also research these topics in the future. 

Jessica ShawName: Jessica Shaw

Year: Senior

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Management, Marketing, and International Business, Krannert School of Management

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: In her time at Purdue, Jessica has completed multiple internships in marketing analytics with the Nielsen Company and the Hershey Company. Following her experience in consumer packaged goods consulting, Jessica decided to use her skills in data mining, statistics, analytics, and strategy to pursue a career in public health or health research. Having studied human genetics through the University Honors Program and with a personal interest in breast cancer prevention, she joined the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Project in the fall of 2012. As a Data Mining Intern she has aided in the development of a Breast Cancer Epigenetics Database that will enable efficient research into the primary prevention of breast cancer. Upon graduation in May of 2013, she will begin a full-time position as a Pharmaceutical Innovation Analyst for the Nielsen Company. In this role Jessica will provide market analysis to pharmaceutical companies in preparation for the launch of new prescription medications. In 2015 she intends to pursue a graduate degree in public health, biostatistics, or bioinformatics.

Project: Jessica Shaw joined the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition (IBCN) project in the fall of 2012 as a Data Mining Intern. Her primary role was to aid in the development of the Breast Cancer Epigenetics Database, which will enable efficient research into the primary prevention of breast cancer.

In her two semesters with the IBCN, Jessica has developed an analytical process for selecting data from the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the University of California Santa Cruz’s Encyclopedia for DNA Elements for inclusion in the Breast Cancer Epigenetics Database. She has worked with Purdue University’s HUB computer scientists and the IBCN research team to develop standardized processes for collecting each type of epigenetic information. She has regularly worked to help bridge interdisciplinary gaps in understanding between the IBCN research team and the Purdue HUB computer scientists.

In addition to her role on the Epigentics Database team, Jessica has proposed multiple strategic initiatives to aid the development of the IBCN following her graduation. Among these strategic initiatives are public relations and fundraising-focused IBCN website and an interdisciplinary IBCN internship program that will use the talents of students across Purdue University. These strategic initiatives will foster public understanding of primary prevention while enabling the efficient achievement of the IBCN’s goals.

Christopher DuffeyName: Christopher Duffey

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Pharmaceutical Sciences

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: I am currently a sophomore at Purdue University in the college of Pharmacy studying Pharmaceutical Sciences.  I plan on attending Purdue's school of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology after graduation and would like to work in the drug discovery and design field at a pharmaceutical company.

Project: My research project focuses on models for the primary prevention and treatment of breast cancers.  One aspect of the project is to develop a pipeline for testing the epigenetic impact of foods on the homeostasis of the breast epithelium. We will use three-dimensional cell culture systems that mimic different levels of breast cancer risk and will screen for preventive agents based on their impact on epigenetic pathways and the polarization of the epithelium.  Our ultimate goal is to screen for drugs that may have the ability to reverse tissues at risk to a normal healthy state.  Another aspect of the project is to validate the use of coculture models for anticancer drug screening.  This part of the project makes use of the "disease-on-a-chip" cell culture system in which tumors grow in channels in the presence of the non-neoplastic epithelium, like it happens  in vivo (Vidi et al, Lab-on-a-Chip, 2013).  Our current goal is to further assess how this model can improve drug screening by comparing characteristics of tumors grown in this model to that of real tumors.

Katya Ashley LiottaName: Katya Ashley Liotta

Advisor: Ellen Gruenbaum

Major: Anthropology

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: My name is Katya Liotta and I am a recent graduate of Purdue University West Lafayette Campus where I majored in Anthropology whilst minoring in Political Science, Women's Studies, and History.  During my time spent at Purdue, I became quite interested in the works of non-profit organizations especially those associated with the improvement of women and children's lives around the world. However, it was not until my internship with Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum and Discovery Park's Cancer Prevention Internship Program that I considered future studies and/or a career in the field of medical anthropology where I could look more closely at the relationship between culture and disease, and how such a relationship can and does affect the circumstances of women on a global scale.  With this new found passion, I was inspired to write an undergraduate honors thesis where I observed the roles and impact of socio-cultural expectations and norms on Ghanaian women's body image and perception of health.

Project: While interning for the Cancer Prevention Internship Program at Purdue's Discovery Park, I studied the rise of breast cancer incidence in five key African countries; these countries being Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ethiopia.  My particular focus was on the possible roles both nutrition and culture may have in the increasing prevalence of this disease in African women.  The goal of the program was to unearth possible avenues for the efficient prevention of various forms of cancer. My research deduced that there were numerous possible triggers for the rise in incidence. What could be confidently deduced from the data was that the enormity of breast cancer related fatalities in these countries is largely a result of women avoiding or postponing any examinations or treatments. African women's decisions to avoid medical attention for breast concerns can be the result of a variety of cultural factors such as relational expectations, but such deductions can only be made with further research. The data also suggests that African women's diets, largely lacking in sufficient nutrients, are possible triggers for the disease's onset and progression. Future research into the roles nutrition and culture play in the emergence of breast cancer in African women is extremely important.

Project Support: Cancer Prevention Internship Program  

Genevieve KruzickName: Genevieve Kruzick

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre, Barbara Stefanska

Major: Nutrition, Fitness and Health

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: I am currently a senior at Purdue University majoring in Nutrition, Fitness, and Health.  I participated in study abroad to China and will be doing another study abroad over spring break to Ireland.  My future plans are to attend Graduate school at Purdue to continue research in Epigenetics after graduation.  

Project: Nutriepigenomics and Breast Cancer Risk
With a preventative approach to breast cancer, the primary focus of this study is to analyze recipe books from Lebanon, Malaysia, Ghana, and Romania and identify frequently consumed foods that may offer protective mechanisms in breast tissues.  We are studying the nutritional compounds within these high frequency foods for any known influence on gene expression and epigenetic pathways.  With the data we gather, we can build a framework for the nutriepigenomic impact of these ethnic foods using 3D cell culture models. 

Project Support: Discovery park Undergraduate Research Internship (DURI)

Christopher DuffeyName: Alexandra Davies

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Biological Engineering

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: I am a Junior in Biological Engineering. Originally from Newark,OH. 

Project: I am studying the effect of the CDS1 gene on breast cancer onset and progression. I am currently investigating CDS1's effect on apical polarity.

Silai MirzoyName: Silai Mirzoy

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre and Ellen Gruenbaum

Major: Health and Disease

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: Silai Mirzoy completed her degree in Health and Disease at Purdue University and is a medical student at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She is currently interested in exploring how social factors—such as culture, religion, discrimination—can impact overall health and well-being for marginalized and minority populations in the United States. Silai is interested in maintaining her involvement in the research and service aspect of global health as well.

Project: As an undergraduate researcher with the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Project (IBCN), Silai explored how body image could impact diet and breast cancer risk in a population of Iranian and Lebanese international students at Purdue University. She compiled data through a 17-item anonymous survey administered to female Iranian international students. This survey was followed by a small focus group discussion where participants engaged in conversation related to body image, cultural perceptions of ideal body shape and weight, and breast and reproductive health. The objective of this project was to ultimately use the information obtained to implement future breast cancer prevention programs in a culturally sensitive manner.  Silai also participated in research abroad at the American University of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon under the mentorship of Dr. Farah Naja. She participated in fieldwork through the ELNAHL project, which seeks to investigate the dietary pattern of children under the age of five in Lebanon.  Additionally, Silai conducted a secondary analysis of collected data regarding body shape dissatisfaction in Lebanese female university students from five private universities in Beirut. The objective was to investigate whether BMI, physical activity, or ideal BMI affected how Lebanese women felt about their body. 

Project Support: Discovery park Undergraduate Research Internship (DURI), Cancer Prevention Internship Program (CPIP) and International Breast Cancer & Nutrition (IBCN)

Name: Ashleigh Shields

Advisor: Erina Macgeorge

Major: Communication

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: I am a junior studying Public Relations with a focus in health and hope to go on to graduate school studying health communication or public health. I am from Valparaiso, Indiana, and a facility manager at our own Purdue Rec Facility. I am Vice President of Association for Women in Communication, a mentor for College Mentors for Kids, and currently on Purdue University Dance Marathon public Relations Committee. 

Project: I completed systematic search for online information about primary prevention of breast cancer. This search is now the basis of an on-going content analysis to determine what people who seek information about primary prevention are likely to learn from online, publically-accessible sources.

Derek PriceName: Derek Price

Advisor: Sophie Lelievre

Major: Nursing

School: Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Bio: During my first undergraduate degree I had the chance to experience healthcare in other countries, primarily Nicaragua and Cambodia.  These experiences led me to begin pursuing a degree in nursing, which I hope to utilize with NGO's in Central America.  Learning about nutrition and its link to our propensity to develop disease has been invaluable in my studies to become a healthcare professional.

Project: Nutrition is one of the many facets of global health.  As healthcare moves from treating diseases to preventing them, understanding the links between the foods that different cultures consume and the effects that these diets can have on their epigenetic make-up becomes more and more important.  This project within the IBCN attempts to find some of these linkages between the nutrients and health outcomes.  In doing so, there can be a greater understanding of how to prevent disease processes like breast cancer and eventually better health outcomes for societies. I participated in the development of the Environmental Epigenetics database of the IBCN.

Name: Yann Vicédo

Advisor: Dr. Sophie A. Lelièvre, Department of Basic Medical Sciences & Dr. Charles Babbs, School of Biomedical Engineering

Major: Currently taking a year off for study abroad and applying to College with a focus on Engineering. 

Bio: My name is Yann VICEDO and I am 17 years old. I was born in France where I spent most of my life so far, but now I live in Colombia. I graduated from both French and Colombian high schools in July 2013. I have always been interested in all kind of sciences, especially biology, mathematics and physics. My academic track record enabled me to finish high school one year ahead the usual age, which gave me the unique opportunity of having an extra year to spend getting experience abroad before becoming a freshman at the University. I decided to volunteer to participate in research on breast cancer in Dr. Sophie Lelièvre’s research laboratory at Purdue University. After finishing my project in Dr. Lelièvre’s laboratory, I intend to attend engineering school in the United States or in France.

Project: My project is to help design and test a computational model of the breast epithelium in order to identify potential relationships between cell structure and tumor development. This model features physical as well as biological parameters that can be modified in an independent manner. As a result, we might be able to identify conditions that promote tumor formation and predict the evolution of the tumor. My work consists in testing and calibrating this model using real tissue observations and measurements.


Science is about acquiring and transmitting new knowledge. IBCN is a global effort; logically, sharing information on primary prevention research should also be global. We are creating new distance learning courses on aspects pertaining to primary prevention research so that regardless of their location, interested individuals can benefit from knowledge acquired by IBCN members and gain expertise necessary to be involved in primary prevention of chronic diseases. Courses listed here are or will be soon available as online modules and full courses. A summary of each course and its objectives is provided as well as information on how to register.






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