Breanna Greteman

Breanna Greteman, PhD student, epidemiology

Explores disparities in cancer outcomes

“Breanna is a strong student and future epidemiologist. She is focused on identifying colorectal cancer disparities at the intersections of race/ethnicity, rurality and socioeconomic status, which is an important area of research.” -Mary Charlton, professor

Cresco, Iowa

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Mary Charlton, PhD, professor, Department of Epidemiology, and director and principal investigator of the Iowa Cancer Registry

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
PhD in epidemiology

Please describe your research:
My research is generally focused on cancer disparities, with my dissertation more specifically focusing on how the intersections of non-White race, rural residence, and residing in counties with low socioeconomic status (low education and/or income) are associated with colorectal cancer diagnosis and outcomes. I have been fortunate to conduct a wide range of research activities in my time at the College of Public Health and with the Iowa Cancer Registry, with projects focused on many cancer types and on between-group differences for various sociodemographic characteristics.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
My research matters because it can help increase the understanding of how cancer disparities occur. My dissertation research builds on what we already know about colorectal cancer by studying different combinations of characteristics and seeing which appear to exacerbate the risk for getting colorectal cancer or having worse colorectal cancer-related outcomes. This work can be placed in the broader context of health disparities and be applied to other cancer types and health conditions.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I was fortunate to begin conducting research as soon as I arrived for my PhD.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
The ability to participate in research has allowed me to apply concepts from coursework, strengthen my analytic skills, learn and practice new methods, and learn about different datasets that are available for researchers. The research’ projects I’ve been involved in have not only helped to build my knowledge and skills in different areas of research, but also have increased my ability to network with fellow professionals, work effectively on teams, and incorporate feedback from team members. I feel much more confident transitioning from my predoctoral to postdoctoral work due to my research involvement at the University of Iowa.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to either pursue a postdoctoral fellowship or begin a career in government at the state or federal level.

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