Nicola is a genetic epidemiologist, statistical geneticist and tenured professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah, USA. Her major focus is susceptibility gene mapping in complex disease and her research balances methods development and application to human studies, particularly breast cancer and B-cell hematological malignancies. Her research has been funded for over 15 years by grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Komen and Avon breast cancer Foundations and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; beginning with a career development award from the NCI, and including a presidential award by Barack Obama for her innovative pedigree techniques. Her recent work has explored the revitalization of pedigree-based designs for complex disease through novel statistics, study designs, and the integration of tumor genomics.
Nicola is a Huntsman Cancer Investigator (Cancer Center member) and co-leads the Women’s Cancers Disease Oriented Team, a multi-disciplinary team of over 50 cancer investigators. She serves on advisory boards for the Utah Population Database (UPDB) and the Utah Genome Project (UGP). The UPDB is a unique database that links a 5M-person genealogy to a statewide cancer registry and electronic medical records for the state. The UGP is a sequencing initiative largely based on pedigrees from the UPDB. She is active in multiple international consortia; has led the International Multiple Myeloma Consortium (2015-2016) and currently serves on the coordinating committee of the International Lymphoma Consortium. She also sits on the NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology, which oversees rigorous scientific review and strategic planning of these NCI intramural programs.
In addition to her primary appointment in Internal Medicine, Nicola is an adjunct professor in Human Genetics, Biomedical Informatics, and Family and Preventive Medicine, where she teaches and mentors trainees (MS, MSTAT, PhD, postdocs). She co-directs a recently redesigned campus-wide TL1 training program in clinical and translational science, STARS (Spheres of Translation Across the Research Spectrum), the goal of which is to produce a cadre of scholars with strategic translational emphases, knowledge breadth, and cross-discipline communication skills to increase transdisciplinary cross-fertilization and accelerate healthcare advances. In the era of big data, she is particularly enthusiastic to encourage quantitative undergraduates to consider graduate programs and research careers that will advance the fields in biostatistics, genetic epidemiology, and population health.