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The Impact of Immunotherapy on Palliative Care Needs for Patients and their Caregivers

Summer 2023

Project Background

We have developed a population dataset of cancer patients and their spouses using linkages with the Utah Population Database, Utah Cancer Registry, and All Payers Claims Database. The Immunotherapy, Palliative, End-of-Life Treatment Utilization and Spousal Outcomes cohort (ImmPETUS) contains records of 31,934 cancer patients with primary diagnoses of melanoma, breast, lung, colorectal, head and neck, and bladder cancers diagnosed between 2013-2018 in Utah. We are in the process of obtaining approvals to link these data to University electronic health record data and a larger national EHR dataset to expand our inquiry into disparities in cancer survivorship, end of life, and caregiving.

Student Role

The student will be involved in amending and overseeing regulatory approvals for the data, contribute to data wrangling, cleaning, and preparing of reports, grant support, and will have the opportunity to lead and collaborate on high impact manuscripts. Comfort with quantitative data and some experience with programming language will be very helpful (e.g. r, SQL, Python) but not essential.

Student Learning Outcomes and Benefits

  1. At the end of the program, the student will have gained exposure to the use of large population datasets for cancer research questions
  2. At the end of the program, the student will gain skills in data wrangling and cleaning and working with relational databases
  3. At the end of the program, the student will gain experience in designing a research question that can be addressed with administrative and clinical data
  4. At the end of the program, the student will gain opportunities to collaborate and lead on manuscripts and abstracts

Djin Tay

Assistant Professor

Dr. Tay's research focuses on the implications of emerging treatments on caregiving, decision making, palliative care, and end-of-life in the context of the family. She leads the development of the Immunotherapy, Palliative, End-of-Life Treatment Utilization and Spousal Outcomes (ImmPETUS) cohort, a population-based cohort of Utah cancer patients diagnosed between 2013-2019 with lung, colorectal, breast, melanoma, bladder, and head and neck cancers.

"As a mentor, I strongly believe that research training is not only about learning the processes involved in conducting methodologically sound research, but also involves being immersed in a culture of research, in which a trainee learns about how interdisciplinary teams function, roles of the research team, and are offered opportunities to learn by doing.

In my research mentorship, I believe in affirming and supporting the unique learning and communication needs of students of racial and ethnically minoritized, underrepresented, and diverse backgrounds and abilities. I endeavor to provide timely and responsive formative and summative feedback to support these learning objectives through a culture of psychological safety, respect, and trust. I encourage student involvement in the dissemination process and support abstract or manuscript development and submissions. The specific mentoring activities I commit to are:

  1. I will meet with the student weekly to monitor and assess needs and progress, set goals, and oversee tasks throughout the course of the program, except for those that fall on breaks or holidays.
  2. I will attend the programmatic meetings required by the SPUR program.
  3. I will connect the student to statistical and informatics experts to conduct the research activities
  4. I will support the student in presenting their work at the SPUR symposium and Undergraduate Research Journal and support any fees associated with these activities, or presentations or manuscripts outside of these two venues related to the project. Continued involvement in the research will be supported pending performance."