Tannous, Bielenberg, and Hill Awarded DF/HCC Mentor Appreciation Awards

By Rosemary Nabukeera | DF/HCC Communications

Left to Right: Karen Burns White;Bakkhos Tannous, PhD (MGH); Laurie Glimcher, MD (DFCI); David Hill, PhD (DFCI); Diane Bielenberg, PhD (BCH) and James DeCaprio, MD (DFCI). Photo by Katharin Shaw.

Left to Right: Karen Burns White;Bakkhos Tannous, PhD (MGH); Laurie Glimcher, MD (DFCI); David Hill, PhD (DFCI); Diane Bielenberg, PhD (BCH) and James DeCaprio, MD (DFCI). Photo by Katharin Shaw.

Bakkhos Tannous, PhD (MGH), Diane Bielenberg, PhD (BCH) and David Hill, PhD (DFCI), received this year's mentor awards in recognition of their several years of mentoring students that participate in the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s CURE Research Training Program. They were recognized at the mentor appreciation and recruitment reception which was held on November 5th in celebration of individuals who have given of their time, talents and treasures to mentor students. Dr. Tannous has been a mentor for 8 years, Dr. Bielenberg for 12 and Dr. Hill since the program's conception in 2002.

The event featured Cancer Center DirectorLaurie Glimcher, MD, who related her experiences as a mentee and a mentor, and highlighted that mentoring is a catalyst for successful career development and advancement. James DeCaprio, MD (DFCI), principal investigator of the YES for CURE grant, also gave opening remarks. The three training programs under IECD are: YES for CURE, SPARC and CURE which stands for Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences.

CURE, which is supported by an NCI R25 grant and philanthropic funding, provides hands-on research opportunities to Massachusetts high school and college students from underrepresented backgrounds. The outcomes data collected by the IECD shows a measurable impact on students participating in the CURE program. For example, the 2018 annual survey data revealed that 98% of CURE alumni have graduated with a STEM or health science degree, and over 312 science or public health related publications have cited or have been co-authored by a CURE trainee. Also, this week from Wednesday through Saturday, 13 IECD trainees will present their summer research projects at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Anaheim, California.

“He always offers to help” Karen Burns White, Deputy Director for the IECD said of Dr. Tannous. He said, “I want to continue to mentor in the CURE program.” In recent years, Dr. Tannous has led an effort at the Massachusetts General Hospital to assist with mentor recruitment. One of Dr. Tannous’s mentees and CURE alumnus, Hawasatu Dumbuya, PhD, said that Dr. Tannous taught her the basics of cancer research and continuously supported all her endeavors by providing her advice both academically and professionally. Dr. Dumbuya said that most importantly, Dr. Tannous helped her find the confidence to pursue a career in biomedical sciences and she is currently working as a senior scientist at L'Oreal. Similar to Dr. Dumbuya’s experience, Dr. Bielenberg’s mentee, Ellah Nzikoba — a 2019 graduate of TUFTS who is currently working as a research technician a BIDMC — said that she learned a lot about science and herself through the mentorship. Nzikoba said: “I could not imagine being paired with anyone better, who understood and really gave me the space to learn and grow beyond just the lab.” For Dr. Hill, White said he has been an automatic “yes” for his willingness to accept CURE students since the program started. White said Dr. Hill has helped guide the program by serving as a member of the advisory board.