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Baylor College of Medicine News

Renowned epidemiologist named BCM's associate director for Cancer Prevention and Population Science, McNair Scholar

Dr. Melissa Bondy, renowned researcher in the field of cancer epidemiology, has been named a Baylor College of Medicine McNair Scholar in breast cancer and will serve as the associate director for prevention and population science in the NCI-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center.

Prior to serving in her new roles Bondy had dual appointments at BCM and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She will now join BCM full time as a professor in the Department of Pediatrics Hematology and Oncology Division with joint appointments in the Duncan Cancer Center and Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center. She also will receive a Duncan Chair.

Building new programs

"This is a very exciting next step in my career," said Bondy. "I look forward to strengthening existing collaborations and building new programs in my new position at BCM."

Bondy has served as the director of the Childhood Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Center, a collaborative program between M.D. Anderson, BCM and Texas Children's Hospital, since its beginning in 2001.

One of the country's top National Institutes of Health-funded investigators in 2010, Bondy's research is focused on genetic and molecular epidemiology studies to assess the roles of heredity and genetic susceptibility in the origination of cancer, primarily brain and breast cancer.

She also conducts research on understudied populations and identifying risk factors associated with disease patterns.

Understudied patient populations

"With Baylor's affiliation with Ben Taub General Hospital and the efforts of the Duncan Cancer Center's Office of Outreach and Health Disparities, researchers have access to study unique and understudied patient populations," said Bondy.

"Dr. Bondy brings very strong epidemiological expertise to our center," said Dr. Kent Osborne, director of the Duncan Cancer Center. "The addition of her and her team will help us move closer to our goal of receiving comprehensive status from the National Cancer Institute."

The Duncan Cancer Center is one of 66 NCI-designated cancer centers in the country. NCI designations are reserved for centers that serve as major sources of discovery of the nature of cancer and of the development of more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. They receive substantial support from NCI grants.

To receive comprehensive status, an NCI cancer center must have broader programs in prevention, care, education, information and dissemination activities that broadly serve communities, regions of the country and often the nation.

Bondy received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and both a master's of science in epidemiology – environmental science and Ph.D. in epidemiology from The University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.

Helping accelerate research

Supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute, the McNair Scholar program recruits scientists in four areas – breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience.

"The McNair Scholars program focuses on bringing in the best scientists to work together with others who are leaders in their fields," said BCM President and CEO Dr. Paul Klotman. "The McNairs have provided us with an excellent foundation for accelerating BCM's research efforts to more quickly advance medical care."

Bondy is the fourth McNair Scholar announced since the program's first recruit, Dr. Ben Arenkiel was announced in June 2010, followed by Dr. Xiang Zhang and Dr. Jake Kushner.