Our Team

Co-Founders:

Provider

Tuya Pal, MD

Tuya Pal is a board-certified clinical geneticist at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee. She is interested in the genetics of breast cancer in African American women. She is the Principal Investigator of the Black Women: Etiology and Survival of Triple-negative Breast Cancers (BEST) Study and co-directs the B-GREAT Initiative alongside Dr. Vadaparampil.

Provider

Susan Vadaparampil, PhD, MPH

Susan Vadaparampil is a behavioral scientist with an interest in uptake and outcomes related to genetic counseling and testing for hereditary breast cancer in minority communities. Her research program focuses on increasing awareness, knowledge, and risk appropriate utilization of genetics services among patients and healthcare providers. She is a co-investigator of the Black Women: Etiology and Survival of Triple-negative Breast Cancers (BEST) Study and co-directs the B-GREAT Initiative alongside Dr. Pal.


Co-Investigators:

Deborah Cragun, PhD, MS, CGC

Deborah Cragun earned a doctoral degree in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health. She received her Master of Science degree from the University of Cincinnati’s genetic counseling program and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2005. She has worked as a clinical genetic counselor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center. She completed her postdoctoral research fellowship in molecular and genetic epidemiology within the division of Population Sciences at Moffitt Cancer Center. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of South Florida in the College of Public Health where she is the program director for the newly approved and sole genetic counseling training program within the state of Florida. She is a co-investigator of the BEST Study and assists with the B-GREAT Initiative under the leadership of Dr. Pal.

Claire Conley, PhD

Dr. Conley obtained her doctorate in clinical psychology (health track) from The Ohio State University in 2018 and completed her clinical internship at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Dr. Conley’s program of research evolved from her clinical interest in individual responses to cancer diagnosis and treatment. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the NCI-funded Behavioral Oncology Training Program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. There, her research examines emotion regulation, decision making, and quality of life in the realm of cancer prevention and control. She has particular interests in risk management decision making in populations at high risk for cancer, and end-of-life decision making in patients with advanced and recurrent cancers. Dr. Conley’s goal is to design and test multilevel behavioral interventions that support decision-making at critical points along the cancer survivorship trajectory. In line with her clinical training, she is also passionate about dissemination of empirically supported treatments, particularly in the realm of health psychology.

Sonya Reid, MD

Dr. Reid is a clinical fellow in Hematology and Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, an MPH candidate at Vanderbilt University, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology of Cancer training program. She received her medical degree from The University of the West Indies and completed an Internal medical residency at Meharry Medical College. She is interested in hereditary breast cancer and health disparities.


Collaborators:

Kenisha Avery, MPH

Kenisha is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy and a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. Her work in public health spans over 14 years where she has held various leadership positions with state and federal governmental agencies as well as the private sector. Currently, Kenisha is the Program Manager for the Office of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Her role is to facilitate Moffitt’s reach and responsiveness to the cancer related needs of the communities served, especially underserved and underrepresented populations, by developing strategic partnerships with key internal and external stakeholders whose work involves research and clinical programs. Additionally, she collaborates and coordinate with community outreach and educational teams to engage communities in activities with an emphasis on prevention and health promotion.


Genetic Counselor:

Brenda Zuniga

Brenda Zuniga, MS, CGC

Brenda Zuniga is cancer genetic counselor and faculty member at Vanderbilt University. She received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from The Ohio State University in 2018. She also has nine years of experience as a certified cytogenetics technologist where she performed cancer chromosome and molecular analyses in a clinical setting. Brenda was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico and is fluent is both English and Spanish. Her professional interests lie in increasing access to healthcare, specifically genetic counseling, by incorporating alternate service delivery models to reach underserved populations and minority groups.


Research Coordinators:

Ann Tezak

Ann Tezak, MA, MPH

Ann Tezak is a Research Coordinator III for the BEST Study. She is responsible for specimen collection efforts, recruitment efforts, participant outreach, and data management and analysis. She is interested in health seeking behaviors, cancer disparities, women’s health, and global health efforts in cancer care. Ann attended The University of Montana where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in SocioCultural Anthropology, with a minor in African American Studies. She also earned her Master of Arts in Applied Anthropology, with a concentration in BioCultural Medical Anthropology, and her Master of Public Health in Global Health Practice at the University of South Florida.

Anne Weidner.jpg

Anne Weidner, MPH

Anne Weidner is a Research Coordinator III for the BEST Study. She is responsible for overseeing recruitment efforts, participant outreach, and data management and analysis. She manages the research database and website, as well as all regulatory submissions. Anne attended West Virginia University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology. She also earned her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of South Florida.


Research Analysts:

Kelsey Horick, MA

Kelsey Horick is a Research Analyst II for the BEST Study. She is responsible for recruitment efforts, participant outreach, data entry, and collection of biological specimens. Kelsey attended Southwestern University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Spanish. She spent over a year studying and teaching in Granada, Spain, where she developed fluency in Spanish, and then returned to Nashville complete her Master of Arts at Middle Tennessee State University in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology. She is interested in clinical psychology, neuropsychology, and exercise physiology.

Lindsay Venton, BSc

Lindsay Venton is a Research Analyst II for the BEST Study. She is responsible for recruitment, participant outreach, data entry, and collection of biological specimens. Lindsay attended the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada where she earned her Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and genetics. Previously an academic researcher, she has decided to transition into clinical research and hopes to one day become a board-certified genetic counselor.