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Linda Cook, PhD, Joins CU Cancer Center as Associate Director of Population Sciences

Cook will oversee cancer prevention and control efforts.

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Bringing more than two decades of experience in the fields of population health and cancer prevention and control, Linda Cook, PhD, will join the University of Colorado Cancer Center in July as associate director of population sciences.

Cook will join the leadership team overseeing the CU Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention & Control Program (CPC), which applies the expertise of behavioral, basic, and clinician-scientists to conduct innovative and impactful cancer research to reduce Colorado’s cancer burden.

CPC brings together transdisciplinary scientists with strengths in public health, psychology, epidemiology, economics, basic science, and cancer care delivery. The program has 57 members, most of whom hold primary affiliations with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, University of Colorado Boulder, and Colorado State University. Its goals include discovering and evaluating novel approaches to cancer prevention and early detection; conducting population-based cancer control interventions; and identifying and diminishing cancer disparities through health services and policy research.

“If you can synergize with other researchers across schools and across the Cancer Center, then you can do some really amazing things,” Cook says. “There is so much talent, so much excellence already at the University of Colorado Cancer Center — I see getting teams together, to further advance cancer prevention and control research for the state of Colorado. New initiatives are always coming down the pike from the National Cancer Institute and the NIH, and to be able to capitalize on that and grow in a way that benefits the people of Colorado, that would be fantastic.”

Helping communities

Cook comes to the University of Colorado from the University of New Mexico, where she serves as interim division chief in the Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Preventive Medicine and co-leader of the Cancer Control Research Program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. In that role, as well as her new role at the CU Cancer Center, she says she is motivated by the opportunity to overcome health disparities and get people the screenings and treatments they need to prevent cancer from forming or spreading.

“Every day that I come to work, I really feel like I’m doing something meaningful,” says Cook, who has a BS in general science from the University of Iowa and an MS and PhD in epidemiology from the University of Washington. “In New Mexico and Colorado, we have rural counties, frontier counties, counties with persistent poverty and areas that have problems with access to care and screening facilities. These are real-world problems that affect people every single day. If we can work on those issues and come up with solutions, work with those communities, do the right type of science to really make improvements in those communities, that’s what motivates me.”

Strengths in leadership and research

Cathy Bradley, PhD, deputy director of the CU Cancer Center, says she is excited about Cook’s expertise in cancer prevention and control, as well as her research on ovarian, endometrial, and breast cancer.

“Linda brings great strength to our population sciences program,” Bradley says. “She will build research in cancer epidemiology and bridge our program to the breast and ovarian clinical and basic programs. We are very fortunate to recruit Linda and look forward to her leadership.”