Dr. Dejana Braithwaite named Associate Director for Population Sciences

The University of Florida Health Cancer Center is pleased to announce that Dejana Braithwaite, Ph.D., has been appointed as associate director for population sciences, starting Nov. 1, 2020.

Dr. Braithwaite will also serve as professor in the department of epidemiology and the department of aging and geriatric research. In the role of associate director for population sciences, Dr. Braithwaite will join the executive leadership of the Cancer Center and further develop the strategic goals of addressing the cancer burden of our region through expansion of research in cancer population sciences.

“The recruitment of Dr. Braithwaite and the complementary expertise she brings to the UF Health Cancer Center in epidemiology will bring a new and exciting dimension to our program,” said Jonathan Licht, M.D., director. “Further expansion of cancer population sciences is one of the highest priorities of the center in our drive for NCI designation. I am delighted to welcome her to the Cancer Center’s leadership team.”

Dr. Braithwaite will establish an innovative cancer population laboratory in collaboration with cancer advocacy and community advisory groups, with a strong focus on the epidemiology of cancer, particularly in regards to the aging and underserved populations of North Central Florida.

“Dr. Braithwaite will catalyze innovative research and collaborations between the department of epidemiology and the UF Health Cancer Center that will improve the health of the population in our area,” said Stephen Kimmel, M.D., MSCE, FAHA, FISPE, FACE, chair of the department of epidemiology.

Dr. Braithwaite will succeed Elizabeth Shenkman, Ph.D., who has served as associate director for population sciences since 2017. Dr. Shenkman will continue in the executive leadership of the UF Health Cancer Center as associate director for community outreach and engagement. Both directors will work closely with Diana Wilke, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, and Janice Krieger, Ph.D., co-leaders of the center’s Cancer Population Sciences research program, to further develop cancer population sciences at UF.

“Dr. Braithwaite brings an extremely important cancer epidemiology focus — including a focus on older adults — to the Cancer Population Sciences research program,” said Dr. Shenkman, chair of the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics. “I am excited about her arrival and look forward to the continued development of the population sciences program and the interface with community outreach and engagement.”

Since 2017, Dr. Braithwaite has led the cancer screening group at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C., where she strengthened transdisciplinary collaborations, built an innovative program and helped accelerate cancer education and training initiatives. From 2007 to 2017, Dr. Braithwaite was an in-residence professor and head of the screening and early detection area of concentration in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Braithwaite’s research, supported by numerous National Cancer Institute and foundation-funded grants, focuses on the nexus of cancer and aging, particularly in relation to generating epidemiologic evidence on the benefits and harms of screening for breast and lung cancers in older adults.

Building upon the exceptional infrastructure for aging and geriatric research at the University of Florida, Dr. Braithwaite will work to advance research on geroscience in the context of cancer and enable infrastructure to support the discovery and development of effective strategies to meet the needs of older adults at risk for or diagnosed with cancer in North and Central Florida and beyond. Florida is home to the highest proportion of older adults aged 75 and older in the United States.

“I’m honored to join the innovative community at the UF Health Cancer Center with the mission of accelerating the center’s impact on our catchment area and catalyzing transdisciplinary team science.” said Dr. Braithwaite. “The Cancer Center serves a diverse and largely rural patient population, and I am passionate about supporting our patients through the delivery of novel and quality cancer care, from prevention to survivorship, to reduce morbidity and mortality due to the disease.”

Dr. Braithwaite received a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Cambridge, U.K., and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Braithwaite as she joins the UF Health Cancer Center team.