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Scholar Spotlight Award

Dawn Holman, MPH

Behavioral Scientist

CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

Cancer InCytes Magazine

Volume 7, Issue 1, Summer 2020

June 7, 2020


Managing Editor: Barbara Recine, MA

Dawn Holman.jpeg

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Dawn M. Holman, MPH, is a behavioral scientist in CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control’s Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch. Her work is focused on opportunities to reduce cancer risk through community-level strategies that make it easier for people to adopt healthy behaviors and reduce harmful exposures at every stage of life. In the context of her work on opportunities to reduce cancer risk during early life, Ms. Holman led a review of the literature on the association between adverse childhood experiences and risk of cancer in adulthood and contributed to a scoping review of the association between adverse childhood experiences and the presence of cancer risk factors in adulthood. Ms. Holman also leads the Division’s skin cancer prevention efforts, including use of national data to examine sun-protective behaviors, indoor tanning, and sunburn among U.S. adolescents and adults and trends over time in the incidence of skin cancer. Ms. Holman completed her undergraduate education at the University of Georgia and earned her Master of Public Health from Emory University.


What has been the most rewarding aspect of your work?

CDC’s mission focuses on fighting disease and supporting communities and citizens to do the same. The most rewarding aspect of my work is when I hear from those working at the state or local level that they have found my work useful in their efforts to promote cancer prevention within their local communities. It’s an important reminder of the real-world impact our day-to-day work at CDC can have.


What has been the greatest challenge in your fight for health equity?

Everyone should have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, but societal barriers to health equity can feel insurmountable at times. It’s important to persist in our efforts to apply a health equity lens to the work we do and look for opportunities to take small steps towards progress whenever possible within our own sphere of influence.


What message would you like to give your readers?

The connection between adverse childhood experiences and cancer is just one example of the complexity of cancer development. While this complexity can present challenges, it also creates opportunities for prevention at every stage of life. In recent years, incidence rates have plateaued or even continued to increase for many common cancer types. Continued efforts to understand the many factors that influence cancer risk and apply what we know can help to shift cancer risk at a population level.

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