The PMC Team Boston Fire Fellowship: Cancer Prevention for Firefighters is a two-year research fellowship supporting a postdoctoral fellow committed to building research expertise focused on cancer prevention and occupational health for firefighters. The post-doctoral fellow will be a member of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) Center for Community Based Research; the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Center for Work, Health, and Well-being, a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Total Worker Health® Center of Excellence; and the Healthy Buildings Program, also at the Harvard Chan School. The Total Worker Health research program focuses on understanding workplace policies, programs, and practices to improve the conditions of work that impact employee safety, health, and well-being. Support for this fellowship is provided by the DFCI Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) Team Boston Fire.
Firefighting is a dangerous occupation, due to risk of injuries as well as elevated risk of illnesses, including lung cancer and gastrointestinal cancers. Many studies have documented the impact of short-term, high-intensity exposures to known carcinogens encountered while fighting fires. In addition, chronic low-level exposures – encountered during long periods spent at the fire station (e.g. diesel exhaust, contaminant off-gassing from fire-exposed gear) – may also increase cancer risk. The fire service also has unique work organization and workforce characteristics that add to these physical hazards: firefighters work 24-hour shifts, often have second jobs, and a majority are veterans. Additionally, firefighters are under stress resulting from being on-call and having intermittent rapid response for potentially high-hazard work. Firefighters may also exhibit certain health behaviors that are risk factors for cancer (e.g. poor diet, disrupted sleep). Until we can understand these exposures – within and outside the fire station – and their interactions, we cannot optimally design and implement interventions that reduce cancer risk. This fellowship will include research opportunities to examine combined risks associated with physical, psychosocial and organizational hazards in the firefighters’ work environment.
The postdoctoral fellow will be under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH, Director of the DFCI Center for Community Based Research and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Center for Work, Health, and Well-being, who has extensive experience studying cancer prevention and the health and safety of workers. Additional mentoring will be provided by Dr. Joseph Allen, ScD, MPH, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, whose research expertise includes the impact of occupational exposures, including those related to chemical, biological, physical and radiological stressors. Additional mentoring will be available through others at the Center for Work, Health and Well-being. This collaborative mentoring will provide expertise in studying and understanding psychosocial factors as well as physical conditions of the firefighters’ work environment.
The post-doctoral fellow will receive a stipend, a travel allowance, and a budget for research-related expenses. Start date is as early as March 1, 2020, depending on availability of the fellow.
The fellow will engage in mentored research related to cancer prevention among firefighters. In consultation with primary mentors, the fellow will identify one or more secondary mentors, with the aim of gaining diverse perspectives of cancer prevention across disciplines. Fellows will work under the direction of their mentors to participate on one or more research projects focusing on cancer prevention among firefighters.
Research opportunities for the fellowship include assessment of hazardous exposures potentially affecting firefighters, including PFAS exposure; qualitative and participatory research to identify priority health concerns of firefighters; surveys of firefighters to assess perceptions of exposures and cancer risk; analysis of existing data on physical hazards; policy identification and assessment to explore policies and practices that reduce cancer risk; biomonitoring for chemical exposures; and other priority areas. The research plans will be developed through coordination among the postdoctoral fellow, their mentors, and the Boston Fire Department to assure alignment with the fellow’s career development goals, as well as that of the fire department.
The training program will include:
Mentored research focusing on cancer prevention and occupational health among firefighters. The post-doctoral fellow will expand existing collaborations with the Boston Fire Department.
Participation in seminars and ongoing research conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Center for Work, Health, and Well-being.
Participation in seminars and ongoing research conducted by the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The option to participate in the Cancer Prevention Seminar Series provided through the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Educational Program in Cancer Prevention.
The option to participate in Harvard Education and Research Center (ERC) Seminars.
Applicants with doctoral degrees in public health (including occupational or environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, health and social behavior, and related fields), the social and behavioral sciences (e.g. sociology, psychology), exposure science, industrial hygiene, nursing, or related fields or with M.D. degrees, may be accepted for this mentored postdoctoral research fellowship.
To apply, please submit one PDF that includes all of the following:
Must describe your career path so far, including a description of any prior efforts to build collaborations with community partners, and what you learned from these efforts.
Must describe your research interests, career goals, and why/how this postdoctoral fellowship will help you achieve those goals. Include a description of your interest in cancer prevention for firefighters.
Must include a complete list of all publications for which you are an author or co-author.?
Letters of Recommendation
Two letters of professional recommendation are required; up to three letters will be accepted. ?Letters should be written on official letterhead and contain signatures.
Please scan copies of your official transcripts from all colleges attended and upload as a single PDF and send to Jessica_Balkishun@dfci.harvard.edu. GRE scores may be requested at a later date.
Review of applications will begin on February 3, 2020; applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Interviews via Skype may be conducted as appropriate.
About Dana Farber:
Located in Boston and the surrounding communities, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute brings together world renowned clinicians, innovative researchers and dedicated professionals, allies in the common mission of conquering cancer, HIV/AIDS and related diseases. Combining extremely talented people with the best technologies in a genuinely positive environment, we provide compassionate and comprehensive care to patients of all ages; we conduct research that advances treatment; we educate tomorrow's physician/researchers; we reach out to underserved members of our community; and we work with amazing partners, including other Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospitals.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is an equal opportunity employer and affirms the right of every qualified applicant to receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, national origin, sexual orientation, genetic information, disability, age, ancestry, military service, protected veteran status, or other groups as protected by law.