Board member
November, 2018

Biography: 

Joan Cunningham is a cancer epidemiologist, retired in 2013 from the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina where she conducted research in the epidemiology of breast and other cancers, including racial disparities in etiologies and outcomes. She grew up mostly in Toronto, Canada, with one very interesting year spent in Sri Lanka at age 12.
Joan holds a B.Sc. (Honours, Biology) and M.Sc. (Biology: aquatic eco-embryology) from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) and PhD (Public Health: epidemiology) from the University of Texas School of Public Health (Houston).  Prior to completing her PhD she worked at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, served as a laboratory technician at the Toronto Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and then spent several years in clinical trials research as a Coordinator of Research Data at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.  
Areas of continuing research and scholarly collaboration include breast cancer racial disparities; and the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches, such as massage therapy and natural products to ameliorate side effects of anti-cancer treatment.
Non-academic interests include reading historical and literary fiction, biographies and much more; listening to and participating in choral and folk music (voice and viola); travel; yoga and Zumba!  Environment and social justice concerns include climate change and population growth. Volunteer work includes with the Sierra Club (on Executive Committee of local chapter), Planned Parenthood, and serving locally as an Elections Judge. Joan lives with her husband in San Antonio, TX.
 

Current research areas: 

Cancer epidemiology, especially breast cancer: racial disparities in incidence and outcomes.
Therapeutic massage, to reduce side effects of anti-cancer treatment:

  • peripheral neuropathy caused by chemotherapy
  • axillary web syndrome caused by surgery.

Clinical research using neem for human health
Neem extract to ameliorate side effects of anti-cancer treatment: oral mucositis caused by radiotherapy

Recent scholarly activity: 

SINCE RETIRING FROM ACADEMIA:
EDITOR:  STEM editor for NCIS "The Independent Scholar"
AWARD: Silver Award (co-author) of Practitioner Case Report Contest, American Massage Therapy Association. 2015.
MANUSCRIPT REVIEWING: JOURNALS:
2013: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer
2014: Cancer Management Research, Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer (2 manuscripts), Cancer
2015: Breast Cancer Targets and Therapy, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (2 manuscripts), Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer
2016: OncoTargets and Therapy, Journal of Supportive Care in Cancer
2017: Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy, Clinical Epidemiology
2018: Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy
 
TEACHING: Workshop at the American Massage Therapy Association 2015 Annual Meeting, Phildephia PA, August 21, 2015.  Title: "Do's and Don'ts of Research in Massage Therapy: Designing a Study, Writing for Publication, and Interpreting the Literature”.
 
FOR RECENT PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS, PLEASE SEE SEPARATE SECTION BELOW.
SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATIONS:
1.     Smith VA, Cunningham JE, Lentsch EJ. Completion Node Dissection Based on Risk of Non-sentinel Metastasis in Head & Neck Cutaneous Melanoma. Presented at AAO-HNSF 2013 Annual Meeting and OTO EXPO, Vancouver, B.C., September 29-October 2, 2013.
2.     Burshell DR, Cunningham JE, Kramer RM, Alberg AJ, Bryant DC, Bauza CE, Hazelton TR, Mosley C, Bolick S, Hurley D, Kistner-Griffin E, Ford ME.  Evaluating the Feasibility of a Cancer Registry-Based Recruitment Strategy to Obtain Saliva Samples for Genetic Association Analysis in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Survivors. Poster presentation at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Research Retreat, November 15-16, 2013, Charleston, SC.
3.     Ford ME, Burshell DR, Kramer RM, Alberg AJ, Bryant DC, Bauza CE, Hazelton TR,  Mosley C, Bolick S, Hurley D, Kistner-Griffin E, Cunningham JE. Evaluating the Feasibility of a Cancer Registry-Based Recruitment Strategy to Obtain Saliva Samples for Genetic Association Analysis in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Survivors. Poster presentation at the Sixth American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, December 6-9, 2013, Atlanta GA.
4.     Cunningham JE, Bauza CE, Brown ET, Alberg AJ, Kistner-Griffin E, Spruill IJ, Bryant DC, Charles KC, Esnaola NF,  Jefferson MS, Bolick S, Hurley D, Whitfield KE, Kramer RM, Mosley C, Hazelton TR, Bea VJ, Burshell DR, Ford ME. Evaluating Overweight/Obesity and Physical Activity Rates in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Survivors.  Poster presentation at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, December 10-14 2013, San Antonio TX.
5.     Pierce AE, Carnes KC, Cunningham JE, Mulligan JL, Nagel W, Garrett-Mayer E, Reed SG. Storage of Salivary Rinse Specimens for Biomarker Detection. Poster presentation at joint American Association for Dental Research (AADR) / Canadian Association for Dental Research (CADR) Annual Meeting, March 19-22, 2014, Charlotte NC.  Abstract: J Dent Res 2014;93: (Spec Iss B) (www.dentalresearch.org).
6.     Bea VJ, Cunningham JE, Burshell DR, Ford M. Evaluating Alcohol & Tobacco Use in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Survivors. Oral presentation, National Medical Association Meeting, Honolulu, HI, 2014. Recipient of the NIH NIDDK Resident Award.
7.     Bea VJ, Cunningham JE, Burshell DR, Ford M. Evaluating Alcohol & Tobacco Use in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Survivors. Poster presentation, National Medical Association Annual Convention & Scientific Assembly under the Post-Graduate Research Symposium and General Sessions, Honolulu, HI 2014
8.    Reed SG, Cunningham JE, Garrett-Mayer E, Mulligan JL, Boyle LR, Fields L, Pasquiri wC, Bosch C, Lawrence L, Wargovich MJ, Sharma AK. Oral Microbial Load and Salivary Analytes During Radiation Therapy. Poster presentation, joint International Federation of the Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) 5th World Congress /American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) Annual Meeting, July 26-30, 2014, New York, NY.
9.    Cunningham JE, Bauza CE, Brown ET, Alberg, AJ, Kistner-Griffin E, Spruill IJ, Bryant DC, Esnaola NF, Jefferson MS, Whitfield K, Kramer RM, Bolick S, Hurley D, Mosley C, Hazelton TR, Bea VJ, Burshell DR, Knight K, Ford ME. Evaluating Rates of Overweight/Obesity and Physical Activity in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Survivors. Poster presentation, Seventh American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Conference: The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. Nov. 9-12, 2014, San Antonio, TX.
10.    Bea VJ, Cunningham JE, Burshell DR, Ford ME. Evaluating Alcohol and Tobacco Use in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Patients: Implications for Survivorship. Cancer Research 05/2015; 75(9 Supplement):P1-09-20-P1-09-20. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445. SABCS14-P1-09-20.  San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, December 9-13, 2014, San Antonio, TX.  Recipient of AACR Minority Scholar Cancer Research Award.
11.    Reed SG, Cunningham JE, Garrett-Mayer E, Mulligan JL, Fields L, Boyle LR, Daanen SP, Keller JH, Roach CL, Pasquini WC, Lawrence L, Harmon H, Garrett AR, Wargovich MJ, Sharma A. RCT of an herbal mouthrinse for radiotherapy induced oral mucositis in cancer patients. CANCER RESEARCH 75(15 Supplement): CT122-CT122. Poster presentation at American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), Philadelphia, PA.  2015. DOI: 10.1158/1538-7445. AM2015-CT122
12.    Cunningham, JE.  Use of Therapeutic Massage for Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN).  Invited podium presentation at American Massage Therapy Association 2015 Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh PA, August 21, 2015.
13.    Lewis PA and Cunningham JE. Using Dynamic Angular Petrissage for Axillary Web Syndrome Occurring After Breast Cancer Surgery. Poster presentation at American Massage Therapy Association 2015 National Convention, Pittsburgh PA, August 19-22, 2015.
14.    Cunningham JE, Burshell DR, Kramer RM, Alberg AJ, Bryant DC, Bauza C, Hazelton TR, Jeffereson MS, Mosley C, Bolick S, Hurley D, Kistner-Griffin E., Ford ME. Body Mass Index and Physical Activity in European American, Sea Island African American, and Non-Sea Island African American Women with Breast Cancer.  Poster presentation at American Association of Cancer Research Special Conference: Obesity and Cancer: Mechanisms Underlying Etiology and Outcomes, Austin TX, January 27-30, 2018.
 
OTHER PRESENTATIONS:
“Do's and Don'ts of Research in Massage Therapy: Designing a Study, Writing for Publication, and Interpreting the Literature”: 4-hr workshop presented at the American Massge Therapy Association 2015 National Convention, Pittsburgh PA, August 19-22, 2015.
“Why is Epidemiology So Important for the Study of Cancer?”, Amity University, Noida (Delhi), India. February 16, 2015.
“Use of Therapeutic Massage to Treat Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)”, American Massage Therapy Association 2015 National Convention, Pittsburgh PA, August 21, 2015.

Recent publications: 

Cunningham JEand Lewis PA.  A Case Report of Therapeutic Massage to Relieve Axillary Web Syndrome, a Restrictive Soft Tissue Condition Caused by Breast Cancer Surgery.  The Independent Scholar Sept 2016; Vol 2 (ISSN 2381-2400. http://www.ncis.org/the-independent-scholar/tis
Lewis PA and Cunningham JE.  Dynamic Angular Petrissage as Treatment for Axillary Web Syndrome Occurring after Surgery for Breast Cancer: A Case Report. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork 2016 June; 9(2):28-37.  [Discussed in “Research Perch”:  http://massagetherapyfoundation.org/dynamic-angular-petrissage-treatment-axillary-web-syndrome-occurring-surgery-breast-cancer-case-report/?platform=hootsuite]
Fritsch VA, Cunningham JE, Lentsch EJ. Completion Node Dissection Based on Risk of Non-sentinel Metastasis in Head & Neck Cutaneous Melanoma. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016 Jan;154(1):94-103. doi: 10.1177/0194599815605494. Epub 2015 Sep 23.
Reed S, Cunningham J, Latham T, Shirer S, Wagner C. Maternal oral mutans streptococci (MS) status, not breastfeeding, predicts predentate infant oral MS status.  Breastfeeding Medicine 2014; 9(9): 446-449. DOI: 10.1089/bfm.2014.0036. 2014.
Cunningham JE, Walters CA, Hill EG, Ford ME, Barker-Elamin T, Bennett CL. Mind the gap: Racial differences in breast cancer incidence and biologic phenotype, but not stage, among low-income women participating in a government-funded screening program. Breast Cancer Res Treat; 2013 January; 137(2): 589-598. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2305-0. 2013.
Manuscripts Submitted
Bea VJ, Cunningham JE, Alberg A, Burshell D, Bauza CE, Knight K, Hazelton TR, Varner H, Kramer R, Bolick S, Hurley D, Mosley C, Ford ME. Alcohol and Tobacco Use in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Breast Cancer Patients, Including Sea Island African Americans: Implications for Survivorship. Frontiers in Oncology. Submitted April 24, 2018.
Ford ME, Findlay VJ, Brown ET, Turner DP, Bauza CE, Abraham LM, Moore LA, Magwood G, Alberg AJ, Gaymon K, Knight KD, Hilton E, Malek AM, Kramer RM, Peterson LL, Gregoski MJ, Bolick-ALdrich SW, Hurley DM, Mosley CM, Hazelton TE, Burshell DR, Nogueira LM, Mack F, Knowell AE, Cunningham JE.  Body Mass Index, Physical Activity, and Breast Cancer Subtype in European American, African American, and Sea Island Breast Cancer Survivors. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.  Submitted Feb. 17, 2018.

Forthcoming research: 

Currently collaborating on two manuscripts:

  • A review article on use of neem in research involving human studies.
  • Clinical trial of therapeutic massage used to reduce symptoms of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy in cancer survivors. 

Other activities: 

2013 – 2014:     Mentor: Medical University of South Carolina Surgery Fellow. Student received three awards of note.
2014 – present: Member of NCIS
2015 – present: Member of NCIS Board of Directors; STEM Editor for NCIS journal "The Independent Scholar"
2015:                 Speaker: “Can We Predict Who Will Get Breast Cancer?”, Landa Library (branch library in city system), San Antonio, TX.
2016 – present:  Partner, CanSurvive Cusine Holdings, LLC.  “Our mission is to change the eating patterns and content of the American diet by combining the most current scientific knowledge of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant compounds with innovative culinary implementation.”  Cansurvivecuisine.com
2017 – present: Officer, Founding Member and Board of Directors, CanSurvive Wellness Project. A non-profit.  Mission: "Improving the health of our community through education in culinary medicine. Specifically, to educate the public on the health benefits of an anti-inflammatory dietary program, combining scientific information with culinary expertise to help prevent and mitigate common chronic diseases. We educate by various means, including workshops given jointly by a cancer research scientist and a certified executive chef, emphasizing incorporation of commonly available ingredients into every day cooking."  (http://www.cansurvivewellnessproject.org)
2017 – present:  Elections Judge in Bexar County, TX.
2018 – present:  Member, Executive Committee: Sierra Club Alamo Group, San Antonio, TX

Candidate Bio: 

Joan Cunningham is a cancer epidemiologist, member of NCIS since 2014. She retired in 2013 from the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina where her research focused on breast cancer epidemiology, particularly racial disparities in etiologies and outcomes. Born in Canada, she grew up mostly in Toronto, with one very interesting year in Sri Lanka at age 12. Joan holds a B.Sc. (Honours, Biology) and M.Sc. (Biology: aquatic eco-embryology) from the University of Guelph (Canada), and a PhD (Public Health: epidemiology) from the University of Texas School of Public Health (Houston). Before deciding to embark on a PhD, she worked at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (Toronto), was a laboratory technician at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Toronto) and then spent several years in clinical trials research as a Coordinator of Research Data at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston). Since retiring, she is continuing her scientific endeavors. These build on her previous work, with a current focus on the use of massage therapy and natural products to ameliorate side effects of anti-cancer treatment. She also reviews several manuscripts each year for scientific journals. Non-academic interests include reading historical and literary fiction, biographies and much more; volunteer work in her local community; yoga and Zumba; travel; hiking; listening to and participating in choral and folk music (voice and viola). Concerns include climate change and population growth. Joan lives with her husband in San Antonio, TX.

Organization Title: 

Emeritus Member

Organization: 

American Association of Cancer Research

Primary Discipline: 

Secondary Discipline: 

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National Coalition of Independent Scholars