Plenary Speakers

Thank you to our Plenary Speakers for providing their presentations during our Virtual NAACCR 2020 Conference.

Richard Aplenc, MD, PhD, MSCE

Pediatric Health Information System

Dr. Richard Aplenc is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics and a core faculty member of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness at CHOP. Dr. Aplenc’s research focuses on improving the outcomes of children with cancer, particularly acute myeloid leukemia (AML.) His work involves the treatment of AML in children and the use of genetic data to predict treatment response to therapeutic interventions. Dr. Aplenc has NIH funded research efforts in pediatric AML focused on determining the genetic predictors of treatment response (specifically relapse and infection risk) and using administrative/billing data to augment NCI funded cooperative oncology group clinical trials. He is currently leading a genome-wide genotyping effort to discover genetic variations that change the risks of relapse, life-threatening infections, and heart complications in children treated for AML. He also leads several efforts to use administrative data sets to improve the care of children with AML, particularly focusing on antibiotic and intensive care use.

Gregory Armstrong, MD, MCSE

Results of the Childhood Cancer Survivors Study Match with the Virtual Pooled registry 

Greg Armstrong MD, MSCE, joined the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in 2006. Dr. Armstrong is the Principal Investigator of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCCS). The CCSS is a multi-institutional, collaborative cohort study initiated in 1994, which has successfully established and followed a cohort of five-year survivors of childhood cancer diagnosed between 1970-1999 and a population of sibling controls. The cohort, derived through 31 original participating clinical centers, has collected detailed information on cancer diagnosis, therapy received along with health-related long term outcomes. As such he provides oversight for three ongoing, R01 funded intervention trials. His research has provided novel identification of a reduction in late mortality among survivors of childhood cancer from more recent eras attributable to reduced treatment exposure, extending the lifespan of these survivors (NEJM 2016).

Dennis Deapen, DrPH, MPH

Pediatric Health Information System

Dennis Deapen is Professor of Preventive Medicine at the USC School of Medicine. He has been Director of the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP) since 1988. The CSP functions in the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and is also a member of the California Cancer Registry and the SEER Program.

David Foran, PhD

Collection of Pathomic Data in Central Cancer Registries 

Dr. Foran is CIO and Director of Computational Imaging & Biomedical informatics at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He also serves as Professor and Chief Medical Informatics Officer of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine & Radiology at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. A major concentration for his laboratory has been the development of a family of data-mining, imaging and computational tools for characterizing a wide range of malignancies and elucidating associations and relationships among computational markers and gene, molecular and protein expression signatures throughout the course of disease onset and progression. He has led multi-investigator projects in computational imaging, computer-assisted diagnostics, bioinformatics, team-based software development and high-performance computing.  Over the course of his career he has forged productive partnerships with basic, clinical and translational researchers to address fundamental problems in cancer detection, patient stratification, disease management, and outcomes studies.

Scarlett Lin Gomez, PhD, MPH

Introduction of Social Determinants of Cancer 

Scarlett Lin Gomez, M.P.H. and Ph.D. in Epidemiology, is Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a member of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, at the University of California, San Francisco. She is Director of the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry, a participant in the NCI SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, End Results) program and the California Cancer Registry.  Her research focuses primarily on cancer health disparities and aims to understand the multilevel drivers of those disparities.  

Sumit Gupta, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Childhood Cancer Staging Guidelines- Toronto Staging Guidelines 

Sumit Gupta, MD, PhD, FRCPC, is a Staff Oncologist and Clinician Investigator at the Hospital for Sick Children, an Associate Professor at both the Faculty of Medicine and the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, and an Adjunct Scientist with the Cancer Research Program at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. He completed a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Toronto, during which time he was supported by a CIHR Fellowship Award. He is one of the Assistant Chairs of the Lancet Oncology Commission on Sustainable Pediatric Cancer Care in low and middle income countries. Sumit has worked extensively with pediatric oncologists and policymakers throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and India. He currently holds grant funding from The Garron Family Cancer Centre, CIHR and the Terry Fox Research Institute.  

S. Jane Henley, MSPH

CDC Pilot Project to Visualize Cancer Data at Sub-County Level

Jane Henley is an epidemiologist in the Cancer Surveillance Branch in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ms. Henley uses data from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and other surveillance systems to monitor cancer outcomes. Her research interests include surveillance of cancers linked to modifiable risk factors, including tobacco use, alcohol use, physical activity, and obesity. She has contributed to more than 100 journal articles and book chapters, including publications about cancer surveillance, rare cancers including mesothelioma, lung cancer and other tobacco-related cancers, and vaccine-preventable cancers such as cervical cancer. Ms. Henley earned an undergraduate degree in statistics from Mount Holyoke College and a master of science in public health in biostatistics from the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. 

Christopher Johnson, MPH

The NCI/NAACCR Cancer Reporting Zone Project: Selecting the Preferred Zone Geography Alternative in Idaho

Chris Johnson is an epidemiologist for the Cancer Data Registry of Idaho and the Principal Investigator for the Idaho SEER registry. He received a Masters of Public Health degree in biostatistics from the University of North Carolina. His primary areas of interest are population-based cancer survival and disparities by area-based socioeconomic position. Mr. Johnson is involved with numerous NAACCR work groups and is the lead editor for the Cancer in North America survival and prevalence volumes.

Warren Kibbe, PhD, FACMI

Cancer Surveillance and Bioinformatics 

Warren A. Kibbe, PhD is Vice Chair and Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at Duke University, and the chief of the Division of Translational Biomedical Informatics. His research interests include data representation for clinical trials, especially improving the computability and interpretability of biomarker and eligibility criteria; data interoperability between medical records and decision support algorithms; improving data representation and interoperability for biomedical research using ontologies, developing novel analysis and visualization tools for next gen sequencing data, especially methylseq. Dr. Kibbe has been a proponent for open science and open data in biomedical research, and helped define the data sharing policy for the NCI Cancer Moonshot program. He is currently working with the nonprofit VFoundation to develop its data sharing policies. Prior to joining Duke, he served as an acting deputy director of the NCI and was the director of the NCI’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information for four years. He was one of the architects of the Genomic Data Commons initiative, which was the NCI’s foray into creating a highly accessible and highly accessed cancer data repository for clinical, proteomic, imaging and genomic data. He also helped architect the joint NCI-DOE computational and biomedical research collaboration. Dr. Kibbe is the co-Founder of the Cancer Informatics for Cancer Centers ( society, and through Ci4CC organized twice-yearly meetings of cancer informatics faculty and leaders from the majority of NCI-designated Cancer Centers. 

Lynne Penberthy, PhD

Tapping Non-Traditional Data Sources 

Dr. Lynne Penberthy is the Associate Director for the Surveillance Research Program (SRP), which is within the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Penberthy obtained her MD from the University of Michigan and her MPH in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Penberthy’s career includes a surgical internship in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Sinai Hospital and a preventive medicine residency at Johns Hopkins University. After her residency, she completed her post-doctoral training in epidemiology with the CDC as an epidemic intelligence service (EIS) officer with the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is licensed to practice medicine in the state of Maryland.

Marshall Pitz, MD, FRCPC

Informatics and Natural Language Processing in Canada

Dr. Pitz is a Medical Oncologist and Chief Medical Information Officer at CancerCare Manitoba, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. He is also a Scientist and Head of Clinical Research at the Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology. His research interests include clinical trials and health outcomes research, and he is primarily focused on the secondary use of routinely collected clinical and administrative data for research and to improve administration of the health system through improved data aggregation and machine learning data models.

Jesse John Plascak, PhD

Social Disorder and Breast Cancer Survival

Dr. Plascak  is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Rutgers School of Public Health. As a social epidemiologist, he studies whether various social factors might influence cancer disparities by race-ethnicity and geography. Dr. Plascak has examined the multilevel and spatial aspects of racial-ethnic discrimination, social capital, healthcare access and other so-called “neighborhood” factors on cancer outcomes across the cancer continuum. His current research projects focus on measuring visual characteristics of the built environment within the New Jersey State Cancer Registry catchment area for investigation of breast cancer disparities by race-ethnicity and geography. 

Diane Ng, MPH

NCI/NAACCR Zone Design Project Overview, Challenges, Current Status, and Steps Forward

Diane Ng, MPH, is a Public Health and Epidemiology Research Analyst at Westat. Ms. Ng has been at Westat for approximately 5 years, supporting cancer epidemiology and surveillance projects for NCI, CDC, and state cancer registries primarily through data analysis and data management work. In addition to working on the development of cancer reporting zones for the NCI/NAACCR Zone Design Project under NCI SEER, her current projects include overseeing and conducting data collection for a research study evaluating disparities in distress screening among lung and ovarian cancer survivors for the CDC, and leading a completeness evaluation for CDC NPCR’s Data Quality Evaluation.

Debby Oh, MSc, PhD moving beyond county statistics to more meaningful geographies

Debby is a data scientist from the University of California, San Francisco's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She has a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles and has worked on a range of public health topics including HIV/AIDS, cancer, childhood adversity, and health disparities. She also has over ten years of experience as a graphic artist. She is currently part of the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry’s surveillance team. Her work involves analyzing and visualizing large data sources including data from the cancer registry, electronic health records, census, and other public data sources. She is especially interested in social determinants of health as they relate to health disparities.

Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH

Cloud Computing and the STAR Project 

Lisa C. Richardson, MD, MPH, is Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC), the largest unit within CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She provides strategic leadership for DCPC’s four national programs: the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, the Colorectal Cancer Control Program and the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR). She stresses a data-informed culture within the Division that impacts the direction of DCPC’s work. She has championed modernization of cancer surveillance data collection and processing through the development of a cloud-based computing platform for NPCR, the nation’s largest population-based cancer registry. She provides guidance for DCPC’s research agenda that includes the CDC funded Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network. 

Lawerence Shulman, MD, MACP, FASCO

New Directions and Rationale - CoC 

Lawrence N. Shulman, M.D., is the Deputy Director for Clinical Services of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of their Center for Global Cancer Medicine.  He has a leadership role in the strategic development of cancer services for the Cancer Center and its affiliated hospitals and ambulatory cancer centers.

Samantha Spencer, MD

How Does CAP Incorporate New WHO Codes Into Practice? 

Director of CAP Cancer Protocols & Data Standards, developing best-practice standardized and structured reporting products including the CAP electronic Cancer Checklists (eCC), with a goal to assist pathologists in their cancer reporting workflow and health systems in better use and exchange of their data to advance patient care.  Previously clinical editor for SNOMED-CT, emergency physician, emergency department quality assessment officer, and practicing internist.  Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine trained, and board certified in Clinical Informatics & Emergency Medicine.

Georgia Tourassi, PhD

Informatics and Cancer Registries 

Georgia Tourassi is the Director of the National Center for Computational Sciences and the Health Data Sciences Institute at the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. She received the Young Investigator’s Award from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Whitaker Foundation. Before joining ORNL, Dr. Tourassi was Associate Professor of Radiology and the Medical Physics Graduate Program at Duke University Medical Center, where she currently holds an Adjunct Professor position. Her research interests include biomedical informatics, medical imaging, and computer-aided decision support. Her medical imaging research has been featured in several publications including The Economist as well as won an R&D 100 award in 2014. Her recent work is focused on the use of cyber-informatics for cancer related epidemiological discovery. She has authored over 200 peer-reviewed journal, conference proceedings papers, and book chapters. She serves regularly on NIH grant review study sections. She has also served on the FDA advisory committee on computer-aided diagnosis devices. 

Robin Yabroff, PhD

Economic Burden of Cancer

Dr. Robin Yabroff is an epidemiologist and Senior Scientific Director, Health Services Research at the American Cancer Society.  She conducts research on financial hardship and the economic burden of cancer; patterns of cancer care; health insurance benefit design; and patient, provider, and system factors associated with quality and value of cancer care.  Dr. Yabroff has more than 20 years of health services research experience.  She has Adjunct positions in the Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University and Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Dr. Yabroff has co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as many editorials and book chapters.  She is a frequent speaker at national and international scientific meetings and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Oncology Practice and the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.