Math professor researches childhood cancer
College of Science associate professor of mathematics Xuexia Wang was recently awarded $413,479 for her research on childhood cancer treatment-related adverse outcomes such as therapy related cardiac disease and subsequent malignant neoplasms, part of a $6M grant sponsored by The University of Alabama at Birmingham via Smita Bhatia, director of UAB's School of Medicine Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship and winner of the Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute. This grant will support Wang's research at UNT, which focuses on understanding how risk factors contribute to the causes of childhood cancer treatment-related adverse outcomes.
This award will positively impact Wang's research environment, while at the same time significantly advancing the field of statistical genetics and pediatric oncology survivorship. Wang is the Subcontract Principal Investigator and lead statistical geneticist of the project, titled Mitigating Long-term Treatment-related Morbidity in Childhood Cancer Survivors. One of the primary objectives of her research is to develop statistical methods and computational tools for identifying and characterizing genetic variants that influence susceptibility to complex diseases and to build and test risk prediction models with both genetic and clinical risk factors for therapy related cardiac disease and subsequent malignant neoplasms.
"Therapeutic advances in childhood cancer have yielded remarkable improvements in survival, such that 1 in 750 individuals in the United States is a survivor of childhood cancer," says Wang. "However, this success in curing childhood cancer comes at a price; survivors are highly vulnerable to developing serious health conditions through the rest of their lives."
Before Wang moved to Texas in 2016, she was an associate professor in biostatistics at the School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has a strong background in statistical theory and statistical genetics.
Smita Bhatia is the principal investigator on the project and Wang's longtime collaborator. She is the inaugural holder of the Gay and Bew White Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology and the founding Director of the Institute for Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Medicine. She also serves as the Associate Director for Cancer Outcomes at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. If Bhatia's research project is successful, the findings would provide evidence for a personalized therapeutic approach to childhood cancer.