Meet the Team

Principal Investigators

Susan Steck

Dr. Susan E Steck is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a registered dietitian. She received a BS in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 1992, and a MPH and PhD in nutrition from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), in 1997 and 1999, respectively. Dr. Steck completed two postdoctoral fellowships with training in cancer epidemiology, one with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC-CH and another with the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Steck’s primary research interest is the role of nutrition in cancer prevention and control, with emphasis on health disparities and personalized nutrition.

Angela Murphy

Dr. Angela Murphy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology in the School of Medicine. She received her B.S. in Biology from Coastal Carolina University in 1997, and her Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of South Carolina in 2004. Since joining the School of Medicine in 2010 she has been continuously funded by extramural grants from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Murphy’s research is focused on understanding inflammatory processes in chronic diseases including cancer and obesity. She is particularly interested in the relationship between obesity and cancer including breast cancer and colon cancer.

Patient Advocate

Belinda Polite

I am passionate about breast cancer advocacy and empowering survivors, families, and the healthcare community on ways to eliminate cancer. I am a 24-year Cancer Survivor who not only survives – I thrive in all areas of my life to improve myself and others around me! In 2017, I coordinated my first Breast Cancer Awareness event that targeted to assist 10 women who could not afford mammograms. Being a Patient Advocate has fulfilled a Bucket List desire for me – to be able to assist doctoral candidates with personal facts to enhance their knowledge base from a patient’s perspective – is my way of giving back to the next generation of healers and survivors they will encounter.

Current Trainees

Ozge Saatci

Ozge Saatci, MS, is currently a PhD student in the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences (DDBS) at USC College of Pharmacy. She has B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Turkey, and M.S. degree from Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bilkent University, Turkey. Her research interests include identifying the mechanisms of drug resistance and metastasis, and to identify novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of refractory, metastatic breast cancer.

Omonefe Omofuma

Omonefe Omofuma, MS, is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. She received her masters degree in pharmacy administration and holds a bachelor of pharmacy degree. She has worked as a pharmacist and a clinical research associate monitoring clinical trials in drug development. Omonefe currently works with Dr. Susan Steck, Co-PI of the IGniTE-CD program, in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. Her research interests include cancer-related health disparities, dietary and modifiable risk factors, and treatment outcomes in cancer and chronic diseases.

Samantha Truman

Samantha Truman, MSPH, is a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. She received her MS degree in Epidemiology and holds a BS degree in Public Health. Samantha currently works with Dr. Swann Adams, an Associate Director for the Cancer Prevention and Control Program and the Co-Director of the Cancer Survivorship Center. Her research interests include cancer-related health disparities, inflammation, dietary and modifiable risk factors, and treatment outcomes in cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Prema Bhattacharjee

Prema Bhattacharjee, MPH, is a first-year doctoral student in Epidemiology. Prema has a MPH from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and a Bachelors degree in Public Health and English from Xavier University of Louisiana. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies at UofSC, Prema worked as an Epidemiology Research Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Prema’s research interests include examining how health care and screening affect breast cancer disparities, particularly among African Americans and those residing in rural areas.

Former Trainees

Johnie Hodge

Johnie Hodge, MS, is completing his clinical studies toward a PhD/MD degree. Johnie was supported on the Komen IGniTE-CD program as a PhD student from 2017-2018 and is mentored by Dr. Daping Fan in Cell Biology and Anatomy. His research interests include adjuvant immunotherapies for prevention of breast cancer metastatic recurrence and biologic mechanisms related to effectiveness of dendritic cell vaccination in breast cancer prevention.

Pearman Parker

Pearman Parker, PhD, MPH, RN is a Clinical Instructor in the College of Nursing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Pearman was supported on the Komen IGniTE-CD program as a doctoral student in the College of Nursing from 2017-2018 when she worked with Drs. Sue Heiney and Swann Adams in the Cancer Survivorship Center studying health literacy. She continues to work in the breast cancer disparities field investigating the role of patient-centered communication in enhancing care for young breast cancer survivors at risk for low health literacy and examining the role of telehealth in improving quality of life for rural breast cancer survivors.