Deejay Zwaga, MPH, UW-CTRI Biostatistical Analyst, has been awarded grant funding from the National Cancer Center as part of their diversity program. The award is a supplement to the R35 Grant held by UW-CTRI Director Dr. Michael Fiore in partnership with Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Zwaga said. “Implementation science has always been an area that I have been interested in, so I am looking forward to contributing further to the Group Health Cooperative R35 project. The R35 project aligns so closely with the type of research I would like to do one day as a physician investigator, so it is very exciting to be involved in a project like this. What I am looking forward to most is the mentorship that goes along with the supplement.”
Her mentors will be UW-CTRI Researchers Dr. Danielle McCarthy, Dr. Marlon Mundt and Fiore. “I feel very fortunate to work closely with such a phenomenal group of researchers and to get an opportunity to learn more from them,” Zwaga said.
“On behalf of UW-CTRI, I congratulate Deejay for this tremendous honor,” Fiore said. “We are so proud of all her contributions to the Center and look forward to all she will accomplish.”
Zwaga plans to attend medical school. “I have interest in primary care and preventative medicine,” she said. “Since my interest is in improving our healthcare system, in chronic disease prevention and management, and reducing healthcare disparities, I feel that primary care is really the best target to have more impact.”
The Diversity Training Branch holds an annual workshop for NCI recipients of research supplements and career development awards. Diversity Supplements are part of the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program. Recipients are encouraged to attend at least one NCI workshop during the supplement award.
With this supplement, Zwaga will continue to evaluate the month-to-month progress on the R35 project. In addition, she’ll explore how provider-patient relations, provider panel characteristics (age, sex, proportion of smokers, etc.), and provider workload relates to differences in adoption and implementation between providers of the EHR tool implemented in the GHC project.
“I will also assess how provider adoption and implementation of the EHR tool relates to the patient reach of Tobacco Cessation Outreach Specialists,” Zwaga said. “After patients interact with providers in clinic, there is an opportunity for an outreach specialist to provide further support and care management at various phases in their cessation journey. This can help us understand if provider actions relate to the reach of the outreach specialists. The last scope of the supplement is to explore cost analyses of provider engagement and cost-effectiveness. Embedded in this supplement are opportunities to work on a manuscript and oral presentations under the mentorship of the other scientists involved in the project, as well as prepare for the next stage of my career.”
Zwaga said she became very interested in dismantling healthcare disparities after her aunt died. “In my volunteer work, in my personal life, and in my education, I have met so many people who share their stories about the challenges they faced in our healthcare system or living with chronic illness. Each person I meet continues to build on my inspiration to become a physician researcher.”
Now, she gets an opportunity to do it. “I just want to give a thank you to everyone at UW-CTRI who has taken the time to help me with the supplement application. Beyond that, I also want to thank everyone at UW-CTRI for continuing to help with my professional development. This opportunity would not have been possible without everyone’s help along the way. I have gained valuable knowledge and skills from everyone I have had the good fortune to interact with and I am very grateful for it.”