Research Summary

As Director of the Global Cancer Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, I oversee UCSF’s portfolio of research and capacity-building projects in low and middle-income countries as well as educational programs for training in global oncology. My research interest focuses on the epidemiology of gastrointestinal cancers both in the United States and globally, with the aim to improve clinical outcomes and reduce disparities. In collaboration with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences and Ocean Road Cancer Institute in Tanzania, I am the Principal Investigator of studies to evaluate the etiology of the disproportionately high burden of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in East Africa. I am the Principal Investigator of a D43 award that is building the first-ever cancer research training program in Tanzania. I am also actively engaged in research on the increasing burden of early-onset colorectal cancer in the United States and the disproportionate impact of this disease on black and Latinx communities. I have partnered with the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (National Cancer Institute) and Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (National Institute of Public Health) in Mexico to develop a collaborative research program to evaluate the changing epidemiology of colorectal cancer in Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. In all collaborations, I aim to support the career development of early career investigators with interests in global cancer control.

Research Funding

  • August 15, 2020 - May 31, 2025 - Building a Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: D43TW011598

Education

Duke University    B.S.    05/00    Biology
Yale University    M.P.H.    05/02    Health Policy
Medical College of Georgia    M.D.    05/06    Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess, Harvard Medical School    Intern    06/07    Internal Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess, Harvard Medical School    Resident    06/09    Internal Medicine
University of California, San Francisco    Fellow    06/12    Oncology

Honors & Awards

  • 2018
    Hematology/Oncology Marc A. Shuman Mentoring Award, UCSF
  • 2017
    2017-2018 Short-Term Mentor Award, Pathways to Discovery, UCSF School of Medicine
  • 2016
    The Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD Commitment to Patient Care Award, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 2013
    NANETS Clinical Investigator Scholarship
  • 2013
    AHRQ K12 PARTNERS Program Scholar
  • 2012
    Young Investigator Award, ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation
  • 2008
    Yale/Johnson & Johnson Physician Scholar in International Health, South Africa
  • 2008
    Nomination by Harvard Medical School Class of 2008 for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2002
    Dean’s Prize for Outstanding MPH Thesis, Yale University
  • 2001
    Weinerman Fellowship for Social Justice, Yale University
  • 2000
    Graduation with Distinction in Biology, Duke University
  • 2000
    Howard Hughes Undergraduate Fellowship in Neuroscience, Duke University

Selected Publications

  1. African Esophageal Cancer Consortium. Expanding oesophageal cancer research and care in eastern Africa. Nat Rev Cancer. 2022 May; 22(5):253-254.  View on PubMed
  2. Ngaiza A, Vuhahula E, Yahaya J, Ndayisaba MC, Kawishe GJ, Grenert JP, Zhang L, Van Loon K, Ng DL. Evaluation of Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 Expression in Gastric and Gastroesophageal Cancers in Tanzania. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2022 Mar 28.  View on PubMed
  3. Lipsyc-Sharf M, Zhang S, Ou FS, Ma C, McCleary NJ, Niedzwiecki D, Chang IW, Lenz HJ, Blanke CD, Piawah S, Van Loon K, Bainter TM, Venook AP, Mayer RJ, Fuchs CS, Innocenti F, Nixon AB, Goldberg R, O'Reilly EM, Meyerhardt JA, Ng K. Survival in Young-Onset Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: Findings From Cancer and Leukemia Group B (Alliance)/SWOG 80405. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2022 03 08; 114(3):427-435.  View on PubMed
  4. Manzano-Robleda MDC, Espinosa-Tamez P, Potter MB, Hernández-Guerrero A, Van Loon K, Unger-Saldaña K. Capacidad de colonoscopías diagnósticas en la Ciudad de México. Salud Publica Mex. 2022; 1(64):106-108.  View on PubMed
  5. Van Loon K, Mohar A, Unger-Saldaña K, Potter MB, Sweet-Cordero EA, Breithaupt L, Espinosa-Tamez P, Sepúlveda-Amor J, Lajous M.. Developing a collaborative international partnership for cancer control in Mexico. Salud Publica Mex. 2022; 1(64):100-104.  View on PubMed
  6. Chan H, Van Loon K, Kenfield SA, Chan JM, Mitchell E, Zhang L, Paciorek A, Joseph G, Laffan A, Atreya C, Fukuoka Y, Miaskowski C, Meyerhardt JA, Venook AP, Van Blarigan EL. Quality of life of colorectal cancer survivors participating in a pilot randomized controlled trial of physical activity trackers and daily text messages. Support Care Cancer. 2022 May; 30(5):4557-4564.  View on PubMed
  7. Buckle GC, Mmbaga EJ, Paciorek A, Akoko L, Deardorff K, Mgisha W, Mushi BP, Mwaiselage J, Hiatt RA, Zhang L, Van Loon K. Risk Factors Associated With Early-Onset Esophageal Cancer in Tanzania. JCO Glob Oncol. 2022 Feb; 8:e2100256.  View on PubMed
  8. Buckle GC, Mrema A, Mwachiro M, Ringo Y, Selekwa M, Mulima G, Some FF, Mmbaga BT, Mody GN, Zhang L, Paciorek A, Akoko L, Ayuo P, Burgert S, Bukusi E, Charles A, Chepkemoi W, Chesumbai G, Kaimila B, Kenseko A, Kibwana KS, Koech D, Macharia C, Moirana EN, Mushi BP, Mremi A, Mwaiselage J, Mwanga A, Ndumbalo J, Nvakunga G, Ngoma M, Oduor M, Oloo M, Opakas J, Parker R, Seno S, Salima A, Servent F, Wandera A, Westmoreland KD, White RE, Williams B, Mmbaga EJ, Van Loon K, of the African Esophageal Cancer Consortium (AfrECC). Treatment outcomes of esophageal cancer in Eastern Africa: protocol of a multi-center, prospective, observational, open cohort study. BMC Cancer. 2022 Jan 19; 22(1):82.  View on PubMed
  9. Van Blarigan EL, Dhruva A, Atreya CE, Kenfield SA, Chan JM, Milloy A, Kim I, Steiding P, Laffan A, Zhang L, Piawah S, Fukuoka Y, Miaskowski C, Hecht FM, Kim MO, Venook AP, Van Loon K. Feasibility and Acceptability of a Physical Activity Tracker and Text Messages to Promote Physical Activity During Chemotherapy for Colorectal Cancer: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial (Smart Pace II). JMIR Cancer. 2022 Jan 11; 8(1):e31576.  View on PubMed
  10. Burns S, Vella M, Paciorek A, Zhang L, Atreya CE, Feng M, Kelley RK, Tempero MA, Van Loon K, Ko AH. Characteristics and Growth Rate of Lung Metastases in Patients With Primary Gastrointestinal Malignancies and Lung-dominant Metastatic Disease: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis. Am J Clin Oncol. 2022 01 01; 45(1):22-27.  View on PubMed
  11. Dragomanovich HM, Dhruva A, Ekman E, Schoenbeck KL, Kubo A, Van Blarigan EL, Borno HT, Esquivel M, Chee B, Campanella M, Philip EJ, Rettger JP, Rosenthal B, Van Loon K, Venook AP, Boscardin C, Moran P, Hecht FM, Atreya CE. Being Present 2.0: Online Mindfulness-Based Program for Metastatic Gastrointestinal Cancer Patients and Caregivers. Glob Adv Health Med. 2021; 10:21649561211044693.  View on PubMed
  12. Espinosa-Tamez P, Suazo-Zepeda E, Sánchez-Blas H, Meneses-Medina M, Huitzil-Meléndez FD, Van Loon K, Potter M, Lajous M. National and state-level colorectal cancer mortality trends in Mexico, 1998-2018. Salud Publica Mex. 2021 Aug 02; 64(1):5-13.  View on PubMed
  13. Kimambo AH, Vuhahula EA, Mwakigonja AR, Ljung BM, Zhang L, Van Loon K, Ng DL. Evaluating Estrogen Receptor Immunohistochemistry on Cell Blocks From Breast Cancer Patients in a Low-Resource Setting. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2021 07 01; 145(7):834-841.  View on PubMed
  14. Nyagabona SK, Luhar R, Ndumbalo J, Mvungi N, Ngoma M, Meena S, Siu S, Said M, Mwaiselage J, Tarimo E, Buckle G, Selekwa M, Mushi B, Mmbaga EJ, Van Loon K, DeBoer RJ. Views from Multidisciplinary Oncology Clinicians on Strengthening Cancer Care Delivery Systems in Tanzania. Oncologist. 2021 07; 26(7):e1197-e1204.  View on PubMed
  15. Keenan BP, VAN Loon K, Khilnani AD, Fidelman N, Behr SC, Atreya CE, Oh DY. Molecular and Radiological Features of Microsatellite Stable Colorectal Cancer Cases With Dramatic Responses to Immunotherapy. Anticancer Res. 2021 Jun; 41(6):2985-2992.  View on PubMed
  16. Keenan B, Jagsi R, Van Loon K. Pragmatic Solutions to Counteract the Regressive Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Women in Academic Oncology. JAMA Oncol. 2021 06 01; 7(6):825-826.  View on PubMed
  17. DeBoer RJ, Mutoniwase E, Nguyen C, Ho A, Umutesi G, Nkusi E, Sebahungu F, Van Loon K, Shulman LN, Shyirambere C. Moral Distress and Resilience Associated with Cancer Care Priority Setting in a Resource-Limited Context. Oncologist. 2021 07; 26(7):e1189-e1196.  View on PubMed
  18. Nyagabona SK, Mushi BP, Selekwa M, Philipo GS, Haddadi S, Kadhim EF, Breithaupt L, Maongezi S, Mwaiselage J, Balandya E, Leyna GH, Van Loon K, Mmbaga EJ. A mixed methods needs assessment and gap analysis for establishment of a cancer research training program in East Africa. J Glob Health Rep. 2021; 5.  View on PubMed
  19. Miaskowski C, Paul SM, Snowberg K, Abbott M, Borno HT, Chang SM, Chen LM, Cohen B, Cooper BA, Hammer MJ, Kenfield SA, Kober KM, Laffan A, Levine JD, Pozzar R, Rhoads K, Tsai KK, Van Blarigan EL, Van Loon K. Loneliness and symptom burden in oncology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cancer. 2021 09 01; 127(17):3246-3253.  View on PubMed
  20. Chan H, Zhang L, Choti MA, Kulke M, Yao JC, Nakakura EK, Bloomston M, Benson AB, Shah MH, Strosberg JR, Bergsland EK, Van Loon K. Recurrence Patterns After Surgical Resection of Gastroenteropancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors: Analysis From the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Oncology Outcomes Database. Pancreas. 2021 04 01; 50(4):506-512.  View on PubMed

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