Alumni Profile

Portrait of Rachelle Brick

Rachelle Brick

Program: MSPH
Graduation Year: 2022
Employer: National Cancer Institute, NIH
Job Title: Cancer Prevention Fellow

Rachelle Brick, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., OTR/L, is a Cancer Prevention Fellow in the Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch of the Behavioral Research Program. Dr. Brick's research examines the influence of access and delivery of cancer rehabilitation services on cancer survivorship outcomes. She is also interested in examining biological and behavioral factors associated with accelerated aging in cancer survivors. Prior to joining NCI, Dr. Brick worked clinically as an occupational therapist in acute care and inpatient rehabilitation settings. Her research has been published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, Supportive Care in Cancer, and American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Brick received her M.S.P.H. from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, her M.S.O.T. from Boston University Sargent College, and her Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the University of Pittsburgh.


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  • What motivated you to study public health?

    As an occupational therapist, I worked with individual patients to manage chronic disease and disability. Primarily, I worked with cancer survivors to overcome disability as a result of cancer and cancer-related treatments. After receiving my PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences, I was interested in examining how rehabilitation services could prevent, mitigate, and remediate disability from a population standpoint. In order to address this question, I knew I needed to develop additional skills in epidemiology and biostatistics. Gaining skills in of public health would allow me to design and implement rehabilitation research that could improve the health of people and their communities.

  • Why did you choose the University of Miami for your public health degree?

    The University of Miami offers a variety of epidemiology and biostatistics courses that would prepare me to undertake research in a variety of health-related fields. Given so many electives, I was able to tailor my experience to the research needs of my post-doctoral fellowship. Specifically, I was drawn to the opportunity to my program’s thesis component with faculty members across the University and affiliated health systems. I was eager to apply the skills I had learned in my coursework directly to clinically relevant research. This work helped build my publication record and extend my network with researchers across University of Miami, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the National Cancer Institute.

  • Describe your career path:

    My career path has taken me down clinical and academic pathways. After practicing as an occupational therapist in acute care and inpatient rehabilitation settings, I transitioned to becoming a full-time clinician scientist and received my PhD. At present, I am a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute working on cancer rehabilitation research. This is a post-doctoral fellowship program.

  • How did you obtain your current position?

    A post-doctoral fellowship is one avenue that PhD- trained scientists take to gain additional skills, mentorship, and support before launching an independent research program. I was referred to the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program by a colleague who completed a similar post-doctoral experience.

  • How did your degree prepare you for your current position?

    The MSPH degree provided necessary training in skills such as advanced biostatistics (survival analysis, multilevel modeling, regressions) as well as designing epidemiological research studies. In my current position, I leverage these skills daily to right statistical syntax, run secondary analyses on large datasets, and design new projects for grant funding. Given the other general requirements of the MSPH degree, I am also able to communicate the distinct value of rehabilitation within the context of public health frameworks and growing scientific initiatives.

  • What is your favorite part of your job?

    I love being able to work with scientific experts that span expertise in primary thru quaternary prevention in all fields related to cancer control and population sciences. Each day I am provided with new perspectives that strengthen and broaden my own research program. I have also found it fulfilling to learn about how funding agencies research, develop, and create new scientific initiatives to grow the field of cancer control.

  • What are your long-term career plans/goals?

    Following my fellowship, I hope to work as an independent investigator in either a government or academic setting. I want to build the evidence surrounding cancer rehabilitation services so that it becomes a standard of cancer care delivery to support the needs of cancer survivors. I hope to demonstrate the value of rehabilitation from patient, provider, system, and policy perspectives. I also hope to serve as a mentor for other trainees and investigators interested in the field of rehabilitation sciences.

  • What advice do you have for someone interested in your career path?

    The greatest clarity I have gained regarding my clinical and scientific career paths have come by asking questions. I encourage individuals interested in transitioning from clinical to scientific or public health roles to have informational interviews to gain clarity about opportunities. Attend a conference! Some of the most beneficial collaborations and connections have come from cold emails, 30-minute Zoom meetings, and impromptu coffee chats with folks who have positions or interests that I am exploring. Second, get your feet wet! The best way to understand if you are interested in a position is to try it out in a smaller capacity. For those interested in research, reach out to faculty members who have ongoing research. This is a great way to see various aspects of research, meet researchers in the field, and build your resume!