Training + Education

Breast Cancer Training Program to Reduce Health Disparities

Led by Drs. Karen Freund and Susan Parsons and supported by the Komen for the Cure Foundation, this training program provides a cadre of master’s and doctoral students with a broad understanding of Asian, specifically Chinese, breast cancer health disparities to conduct clinical and translational research to address the needs of Chinese American breast cancer patients and survivors. Asian Americans are the only racial/ethnic group in which cancer is the leading cause of death, and breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Asian women. Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center (Tufts MC) sits within Boston Chinatown and provides care for this vibrant community, and for the surrounding Chinese immigrant communities in Quincy and Malden, MA, who use Chinatown as their cultural hub. This training program is in partnership with Tufts Cancer Center, Tufts Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University.


  • Zahna Bigham, BA, MD/PhD Candidate
    Zahna Bigham, BA MD/PhD Candidate
    Zahna is a current MD/PhD candidate in the Tufts University MSTP. She received her BA in Biology from Wesleyan College in 2018. Her primary research interest is reducing heath care disparities, particularly those that disproportionately impact communities of color. Currently, she is working to identify the risk factors that contribute to the disproportionate burden of breast cancer in Black women and exploring the sociodemographic factors that impact medical student mental health. Zahna plans to become a physician scientist that conducts translational research. For her, becoming a physician scientist is not simply a career goal, but a necessity for the impact she intends to make in science and her community. Outside of work, Zahna enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies and HGTV, and shopping.

  • Maria Rodriguez Berrios, ND, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Maria Rodriguez Berrios, ND Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Dr. Rodriguez Berrios is a licensed Naturopathic physician with broad experience in public health and clinical research. She received her medical training at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona, after graduating from her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. Her lifelong goal as a clinician has been to educate and empower diverse communities, and to offer culturally-appropriate interventions for optimal health and wellness. 

    During her fellowship, she is also pursuing a Certification in Clinical Research & Translational Sciences at Tufts University. She supports the research team on a number of projects. Her main research project studies the association of sociocultural factors with cancer screening adherence among medically-underserved populations. Her research interests include Integrative Medicine, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and collaborating with multidisciplinary sectors to reduce Health Disparities. 

List of Trainees – Tufts Breast Cancer Training Program

  • Angie Mae Rodday, PhD, MS (2015)
  • Research Project: Assessing the Relationship between Self-Efficacy and Socio-economic Status Using the Communication and Attitudinal Self-Efficacy General Scale

  • Jinghui Dong, PhD (2015-)
  • Research Project: Impact of Patient Navigation of Patient Acceptance of Recommended Breast Cancer Treatment

  • Kimberly Esham, MD
  • Research Project: Uncharted Waters: Course and Correlates of Migratory Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patients

Former Trainees – Program on Equity in Health and Science

  • Aysha Almas, MBBS, FACP
  • Anthony Kulukulualani, MD candidate
  • Andre Vogel, Brown University undergraduate student