Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"CPIP: Middle Eastern Diets and Breast Cancer Risk"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Full-Year 2011 - CPIP
Research area(s):
Public Health, Nutrition, Anthropology, medical sciences, health care
Project Description:
The purpose of this project is to develop information resources that will be useful to planning and implementation of the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition project’s research on prevention of breast cancer. The student will collect data on diets and changing diet trends in specific Middle Eastern Countries identified for the project, including Iran, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. The student will also collect and organize data on breast cancer incidence, mortality rates, treatment modalities, programs of awareness of breast cancer, etc., for the countries chosen. Particular attention will be given to programs of awareness of breast cancer risk, whether sponsored by governmental health services, international organizations, or non-governmental local organizations, insofar as that information can be gathered. This will include public health education, public service announcements, or standard practices of medical clinics, if these can be determined, This may require internet searching as well as culturally appropriate email communication and inquiry, under the guidance of the faculty mentors. Finally, the student will gather information that can be used for comprehensive modeling of the context of dietary trends and breast cancer incidence, including demographic information (age structure, economic and social class information, etc.), environmental factors, health care system structure, and specific elements of globalization, such as fast food marketing. These findings will then be compared and the student will work with faculty to formulate hypotheses to explain similarities and differences in breast cancer rates between the selected countries. The next stage of the project will be to devise a plan for establishing relationships with breast cancer prevention advocates and pioneers in each of the target nations. This will involve on-line research to collect policies, website information, and lists possible contacts in each country.
Expected Student Contributions:
The student will be expected to conduct on-line searches, utilize epidemiological and demographic data sources (such as WHO and UN sources) as well as reviewing appropriate scientific literature. The student will develop a system for storing qualitative and quantitative data from these sources, and put it in a comparative framework for analysis. The student will maintain a bibliography of all sources for use in future grant applications. This groundwork will be essential to generating hypotheses, developing grant proposals, generating preliminary reports and posters. The student will also need to develop some abilities to understand and analyze food practices in the relevant countries, including traditional diets and food distribution in families of different social groups, recent trends in dietary changes and preferences influenced by globalization (such as trends in increased use of soft drinks and sweet, fast food dietary fats, etc.), whether there are policies about foods in schools, etc. The student will be expected to write brief reports and participate in research group discussions with the faculty mentors. The student will present preliminary findings at poster sessions or conferences on campus or elsewhere.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
3.0 GPA. Some coursework and interests in a public health related area, interest in breast cancer prevention and/or dietary patterns. Some knowledge of Middle East cultures, geography, history, or languages would be very helpful.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 4 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Gruenbaum, Ellen
anthropology department

Student Supervisor

Ellen Gruenbaum
Head and Professor, Anthropology

Cooperating Faculty

Sophie Lelievre
Veterinary Medicine