SPUR 2022: THE IMPACT OF AIR POLLUTION ON CANCER SURVIVORS

Mentor Name:
Anne Kirchhoff

Mentor Position:
Associate Professor

Department:
Pediatrics

College:
Medicine

Email:
anne.kirchhoff@hci.utah.edu


Project Description:

**This project is a part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), which provides undergraduate students with an intensive 10-week research experience under the mentorship of a University of Utah faculty member. SPUR 2022 begins on May 25 and ends on August 4. If you are interested in this project, please review all program information on the SPUR site. If you wish to apply to this project, you must apply using the SPUR 2022 application.**

** This project is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (PIs: Sara Grineski and Tim Collins). In addition to being part of SPUR, it is also part of the HAPPIEST programApplicants must be University of Utah students who identify in one or more of the following ways (defined by the National Institutes of Health): Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinxs, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Two students will be selected to work on this project together.**

Over the past several decades, advancements in the treatment of cancer have led to over 18 million cancer survivors in the United States. While these treatments have greatly extended the life of individuals with cancer, certain cancer therapies can cause heart and lung problems during cancer treatment and lead to chronic conditions that can last throughout a survivor’s life. Particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) also causes heart and lung morbidity and mortality. Several studies have shown that higher community levels of PM2.5 increases the risk of cancer-related mortality. How PM2.5 air pollution affects the health of cancer survivors and leads to higher morbidity and mortality, however, is unknown. The goal of this research is to determine if exposure to PM2.5 increases the risk of heart and lung health events among cancer survivors, particularly those given treatment regimens with known toxicity.



Opportunity Type:

This is a paid research position


Student Role:

The summer student will join a research team of cancer health services researchers, epidemiologists, statisticians, clinicians, and air pollution experts to assist with two ongoing grants on air pollution and cancer survivorship. Key activities during the summer for a student includes: conducting a literature review on the topic of cancer, air pollution, morbidity, and mortality, assisting with data preparation and management, including building treatment exposure data and working administrative data records, contributing to obtaining covariate data for regression analyses (e.g., smoking status, meteorological information, COVID-19/influenza rate data, etc.), assisting with study design, assisting with running descriptive analyses investigating PM2.5 levels throughout Utah, and contributing to scientific reporting, including creation of tables for manuscripts and abstracts. The student will also have the opportunity to participate in weekly research team meetings with other faculty, staff, and students.


Student Benefits:

At the conclusion of the HAPPIEST program, the student will have completed an in-depth literature review on air pollution and cancer survivorship, which will provide key information for future journal articles and grant submissions. The student will have gained a comprehensive understanding of cancer epidemiology, air pollution, morbidity, and mortality. The student will have gained experience with certain statistical analysis approaches and with the interpretation of results. Participation with this research will result in improvement in foundational skills for career development including writing and analytical skills. Moreover, the student will obtain experience working in a team-based research setting with several ongoing and complementary research studies.


Project Duration:

35-40 hours per week on research and program-related activities, begins May 25, 2022, and ends August 4, 2022


Minimum Requirements:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria: 1) be a matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate student in the Fall 2022 semester (beginning or continuing college career in Fall 2022 and not graduating before December 2022; concurrent enrollment while in high school does not meet this eligibility requirement). Applicants do not need to be a University of Utah student. 2) eligible to work in the United States: If you are a University of Utah Dreamer (with or without DACA), you are eligible to participate. U Dreamers with DACA will be hired and paid through U payroll. U Dreamers without DACA who graduated from a Utah high school will be compensated via a different mechanism. If you are a Dreamer from a different institution: If you have DACA, you are eligible to participate and will be hired and paid though U payroll. If you do not have DACA, you are able to participate and gain research experience, but we do not currently have a mechanism that allows us to compensate you. For more information, please contact Megan Shannahan at megan.shannahan@utah.edu or 801-581-2478. If you are an international student or scholar, you must either a) be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of Utah, OR b) possess documentation that establishes your eligibility to work in the United States (if you hold US citizenship, it is likely you have these documents). 3) able to commit to approximately 35-40 hours per week of employment at the University of Utah for the entire duration of the program (May 25-August 4, 2022). 4) at least 18 years old by May 23, 2022 (required if you wish to use on-campus housing; preferred if you will not be using on-campus housing).