Holden Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) focuses on engaging both the cancer center and the people of Iowa to improve the cancer research conducted at Holden. Some featured projects are highlighted below.


Partnering to Reach Communities with Iowa’s Largest Cancer Disparities

Through a National Cancer Institute P30 Supplement grant, the Community Outreach and Engagement team is partnering with the Iowa Cancer Consortium and Black community members from Black Hawk County to build relationships and reduce cancer disparities. You can read a case study about this work on the National Cancer Institute website.

Nine steering committee members meet monthly to build relationships and discuss cancer-related issues and community-specific cancer-related data.  The committee has identified several areas of interest, including racism and disparities in healthcare, prostate cancer screening rates, and cluster investigations. The steering committee has expressed a desire for action and hope their work will serve as a catalyst to reduce health care disparities in our state.

Download Partnering to Reach Communities with Iowa’s Largest Cancer Disparities PDF

Waterloo Steering Committee Members

  • Lisa Ambrose
  • Tiffie Greer
  • Georgia Hodge
  • Cathy Ketton
  • Sedrick McIntosh
  • Lischelle Oliver
  • Bridget Saffold
  • Miriam Tyson
  • Angela VanArsdale
Colorectal Cancer Focus Area Webinars

Colorectal cancer (CRC) ranks in the top four in Iowa for both incidence and mortality. There are observed disparities by rurality and race, and early onset CRC is increasing in Iowa. Holden has selected CRC as a focus area for activities to optimize chances of improvement. As part of this initiative, the HCCC COE team is hosting virtual opportunities for HCCC and key partners to learn about each other's CRC work. We hope this series will 1) establish and strengthen relationships between HCCC and key partners in the state of Iowa 2) increase understanding between HCCC and key partners, and 3) jointly develop a research and action plan for the state of Iowa.

The opportunities will consist of virtual meetings during which a HCCC researcher/clinician and a key state partner present on similar topics for 10 minutes each. The remaining 40 minutes will be devoted to questions and discussions. Recorded meetings are available below for those who are unable to attend. If you are interested in being added to the mailing list for upcoming webinars, please e-mail hccc-coe@uiowa.edu.

View: Patients' Difficulties with 5 Different Fecal Immunochemical Tests and Screening Efforts at Proteus

Jeanette Daly, RN, PhD, Research Scientist, Department of Family Medicine, University of Iowa Health Care
Daniel Zinnel, EdD, Chief Executive Officer, Proteus, Inc.

View: Early-onset colorectal cancer

Mayin Lin, DO, MPH Colorectal Surgeon, MercyOne Des Moines Surgical Group
Sarah Nash MPH, PhD, Director of Research, Analytics, and Dissemination, Iowa Cancer Registry

View: Genetic Counseling

Madeline VanDerGraaf, MS, LGC Licensed Genetic Counselor, University of Iowa Health Care
Lauren Seemann, MS, LGC Licensed Genetic Counselor, Mission Cancer + Blood

View: A snapshot of colorectal cancer data and state screening programs in Iowa

Sarah Nash, PhD Director of Research, Analytics, and Dissemination, Iowa Cancer Registry
Jeanna Jones, BS, RT, Screening Promotion Coordinator, Iowa Department of Health

View: Colorectal Cancer Screening in Iowa

Alexander Dresden, DO, PGY-3 Resident, UIHC Department of Family Medicine
Devon Gurnett, MSOM, Program Manager, Iowa Primary Care Association

View: Clinical Trials

Saima Sharif, MD, MS, GI Oncologist, Medical Director for Solid Tumor Medical Oncology, University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and University of Iowa Health Care
Shannon Benson, RN, MSN, Director of Clinical Trials, Mission Cancer + Blood

View: Key Takeaways from the American Cancer Society National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable

Victoria Brenton, MPH, Colorectal Reporting & Coordinating Manager, Iowa Department of Health & Human Services
Kristina Guyton, MD, Colorectal Surgeon, UIHC Department of Surgery

View: Fecal immunochemical tests: Innovative research & outreach efforts across Iowa

Barcey Levy, MD, PhD, Physician & Professor, Iowa Academy of Family Physicians Endowed Chair in Rural Medicine, UIHC Department of Family Medicine
Teresa Pangan, PhD, RDN, Prevention & Wellness Strategist for Cancer and Heart, UnityPoint Health – Trinity

Featured Research

Below, you’ll find short video clips with a brief overview of some of the research being conducted by Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers from each program.

Cancer Genes & Pathways (CGP): How do cancer cells behave in the body?

Michael Wright, PhD, Associate Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, provides a brief overview of his prostate cancer research and his commitment to engaging with community.

Dawn Quelle, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, shares how her team is working to improve immunotherapy for sarcomas and neuroendocrine tumors. 

Experimental Therapeutics (ET): How do you best harm cancer cells without harming anything else?

James Byrne, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, discusses how he’s using culinary arts techniques to create better cancer therapies.

Free Radical Metabolism & Imaging (FRMI): How do unstable molecules in the body cause damage and how are they best detected?

Jessica Sieren, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, shares how her research team uses artificial intelligence to improve lung cancer detection and treatment.

Free Radical Metabolism & Imaging (FRMI): What is Medical Image Perception, and How Can It Help in Cancer Research?

Claudia Mello-Thoms, PhD, Associate Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Medical Image Perception Laboratory, shares how she is working to reduce diagnostic error in radiology.

Cancer Epidemiology & Population Science (CEPS): How do cancer cases spread throughout a region and how can they best be prevented?

Jess Gorzelitz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health & Human Physiology, shares an overview of several of her current projects: at-home exercise in endometrial cancer survivors, population assessment of exercise in survivors, and the role of post-diagnosis exercise in survivors.