Building a Population Science Research Program

One of Dr. José Zevallos’ goals for the Department of Otolaryngology is one step closer to becoming reality with the addition of Angela Mazul, PhD.

Dr. Mazul will help build a robust epidemiologic and population science research program in head and neck cancer. She will contribute to this by building a large case-control study researching factors associated with head and neck cancer risk, specifically social determinants of health and oral health. She also plans to follow up on the cases to determine how these factors are associated with survival and quality of life during survivorship.

The plan is to ascertain cases as soon as they get diagnosed, so data can be collected on patients before treatment. In case-control studies, cases may be more likely to have recall bias due to the cancer diagnosis “muddling” the recall. Thus, the sooner patients can be recruited, the better. Dr. Mazul would like to extend the recruitment beyond the Pittsburgh Metro area and recruit from other UPMC locations to get a wide variety of patients to represent Western Pennsylvania and rural head and neck cancer patients.

Dr. Mazul has a PhD in cancer epidemiology from UNC Chapel Hill and did her postdoctoral training at Lineberger Cancer Center. She was an Assistant Professor at Washington University, where she got a K01 to look at social and molecular determinants of health in HPV-associated cancer.

Dr. Mazul is excited to come to Pittsburgh. “UPMC has the resources and infrastructure to recruit patients,” she said. “I look forward to merging my K award training with my epidemiologic training in case-control studies to build a population-based study. On a personal note, I have never met a person from Pittsburgh who didn’t rave about the city, so I am eager to check out the city.”