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The Office of Disease Prevention Early-Stage Investigator Award

Early-Stage Investigator Award

The Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) is pleased to announce the 2017 winners of the inaugural ODP Early-Stage Investigator Award. The award recognizes early-career prevention scientists who have not competed successfully for a substantial NIH-supported research project before the award nomination submission deadline, but who have already made significant, outstanding research contributions to their respective fields and are poised to become future leaders in prevention research.

Award Presentations

On Wednesday May 3, 2017, the winners gave presentations at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), directly preceding the Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture in Epidemiology. The presentations are now available via NIH Videocast.

2017 Award Winners

Director David Murray

Justin C. Brown, Ph.D.
Research Fellow in Population Sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

Presentation Title: A Phase II Randomized Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Dose-Response Effects of Exercise on Prognostic Biomarkers among Colon Cancer Survivors

Dr. Brown is a research fellow in the Division of Population Sciences and Gastrointestinal Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. The overarching mission of his research program is to identify the specific biological and biobehavioral pathways through which energy balance-related lifestyle factors—including physical activity, dietary patterns, and body composition—influence cancer prevention and control. His methodologic expertise is in the design and conduct of randomized controlled trials and cohort studies. Dr. Brown has published over 45 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals, such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and is an editorial board member of BMC Cancer. In 2013, he received the citation award for authoring the most frequently cited paper in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. He has presented invited lectures on the role of lifestyle for cancer prevention and control across the United States, and his research has been featured in several major news outlets. Dr. Brown has served as principal investigator of two National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials investigating the role of exercise and lifestyle modification in cancer survivors. Dr. Brown completed his Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine in May 2016.

Director David Murray

Katherine Keyes, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University

Presentation Title: Alcohol use and morbidity across historical time: What does variation tell us about environmental determinants of alcohol-related outcomes?

Dr. Keyes is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Dr. Keyes' research focuses on life course epidemiology with particular attention to psychiatric disorders, including examination of fetal origins of child and adult health, long-term outcomes of adverse childhood environments, and cross-generational cohort effects on substance use, mental health, and chronic disease. She is particularly interested in the development of epidemiological theory to measure and elucidate the drivers of population health. Dr. Keyes is an expert in methodological issues in age-period-cohort effect estimation, and her empirical work with this method has examined a range of outcomes including obesity, perinatal outcomes, substance use disorders, and psychological distress. She is the author of more than 170 peer-reviewed publications as well as two textbooks published by Oxford University Press with co-author Sandro Galea: Epidemiology Matters: A New Introduction to Methodological Foundation, published in 2014, and Population Health Science published in 2016.

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2017 Finalists


Selection Process

The 2017 review process consisted of three stages. First, content area-specific panels consisting of staff across the NIH reviewed applications. Then, the ODP reviewed finalist applications and made recommendations to the Director. Finally, the Director reviewed the recommendations and named winners and finalists.

Eligibility for 2017 Award

  • An applicant must be an early-stage investigator, defined as someone within 10 years of completing a terminal research degree who has not yet competed successfully as a principal investigator for a substantial independent NIH research grant before the award nomination submission deadline.
  • Nominees should demonstrate:
    • Innovative and significant research accomplishments in areas relevant to the ODP's mission;
    • Evidence of highly collaborative research projects, especially those bridging disciplines or fields to offer new paradigms of thinking in disease prevention research; and
    • Evidence of a strong trajectory of career development and leadership.
  • Priority is given to nominees conducting research in any of the 10 most common causes of death in the United States:
    • Tobacco
    • Overweight/obesity
    • Poor diet
    • Physical inactivity
    • Alcohol misuse
    • Exposure to microbial agents and/or toxic agents
    • Motor vehicle accidents
    • Injury and violence
    • Risky sexual behavior
    • Substance abuse
  • Other priority areas include:
    • Methods and measurement research
    • Health disparities
    • Disease screening
  • Federal government employees, including fellows and contractors, are not eligible for this award.

Stay in Touch

If you are interested in receiving the 2018 call for nominations as well as other information from the ODP, please sign up for our mailing list External Website Policy.

For more information about the award, contact Dr. Stephanie M. George, ODP Senior Epidemiologist.