Summer at the National Cancer Institute

I spent this summer at the National Cancer Institute as a research fellow between master’s and PhD programs, and it was a blast!

The National Cancer Institute is one of 27 institutions in the National Institutes of Health (NIH). My appointment was with the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, where I joined projects related to cancer communication, genetic communication, and precision medicine implementation. It was fun working with incredibly smart and thoughtful people, fumbling through acronyms, and getting an inside look at how a government health organization works.

The highlight for me, though, was getting to be a fly on the wall in meetings where cutting-edge medical and bioinformatics technology is being developed and national programs and policy are being shaped.

The experience also deepened my understanding of precision and personalized medicine, which is an emerging area of focus for me. I was interviewed alongside Dr. Brad Hesse for Data & Society’s Fairness in Precision Medicine project. Being a big fan of danah boyd, the PI on the project, I was thrilled to take part in this. Can’t wait to hear their reports and will share a link to them in January 2018!

Another highlight was working with HINTS (Health Information National Trends Survey), a tool for understanding how the public is accessing, using, and trusting sources of health information.

My fellowship wrapped up in August (just as I was starting to conquer the government acronyms), but many projects are still in the works. More to come!




I’m a health writer and graduate student. I'm interested in the wily side of health – self sabotage, persuasion, and why health campaigns so often manage to inadvertently piss people off.

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