UVM Cancer Center Welcomes Two New Colleagues: Kate Tracy and Christa Varnadoe

January 26, 2023 by Kate Strotmeyer

Tracy (left) and Varnadoe (right) join the UVM Cancer Center in 2023.

Kate Tracy, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Medicine, Larner College of Medicine
Director of Research, UVM Health Network

Dr. Tracy’s research interests have focused primarily on cervical cancer prevention across the prevention continuum (primary, secondary, tertiary), particularly in underserved groups of women. Using a biobehavioral approach, her research focuses on identifying factors that increase a women’s risk for developing cervical cancer as well factors in diagnosis and treatment. Her domestic research agenda continues to focus on reducing disparities in cancer across various dimensions of prevention. 

Dr. Tracy’s international studies on the epidemiology of human papillomarvirus (HPV) infection in women from Mali, West Africa helped characterize the burden of HPV disease in Mali and informed a mathematical model to estimate the impact of HPV vaccination in Mali. Data from these projects provided the scientific and practical basis for support from the Gardasil Access Program (GAP) which awarded $3.96 million worth of HPV vaccine for a vaccine implementation project in Bamako, Mali and also supported a project to assess probable impact of the HPV vaccination in Mali using modeling simulation. Despite political instabilities following the coup d’etat in 2012, our successful implementation of the GAP project brought much needed vaccination to more than 10,000 young women in Bamako and achieved greater than 80% coverage for all 3 doses. Beyond the public health benefit to the vaccinated young women, the project’s success in delivering 3 doses to more than 80% of vaccinees qualifies Mali to add the HPV vaccine to the country’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) with support from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Scaling of HPV vaccination country-wide under EPI has the potential to reduce cervical cancer mortality in Mali from 35/100,000 to approximately 10.5/100,000 over the next 20-30 years.

Currently, Dr. Tracy is the PI of a National Cancer Institute grant health professionals, health authorities, and national policy makers to foster comprehensive an HPV-based screen-and-treat cervical cancer screening programs in Peru. She has also expanded her research agenda to a new cancer disparity area: cancer and work. This new area is focused on increasing our knowledge of how cancer diagnosis and survivorship negatively impact employment and employment outcomes, especially among women and working poor cancer survivors. 

Christa Varnadoe, DNP, MSN, AGNP-C, OCN, CCRP
Administrative Director, Cancer Clinical Trials, University of Vermont Cancer Center
Associate Professor of Medicine, Larner College of Medicine at UVM

While Christa obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida in public health, she worked at Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute as a primary nurse coordinator in an ambulatory outpatient clinic. While there, Christa was co-director of the 8th Annual National CTCL Symposium. Made possible through health diplomacy efforts, this was a joint program between the Moffitt Cancer Center and the National Center of Oncology and Radiology of Cuba. 

Christa then worked as an oncology clinical research nurse coordinator at the Yale School of Medicine. During this time she presented in Morocco, on behalf of The American Society of Clinical Oncology, about the importance of the nurse’s role in cancer clinical trials and the importance of ethics in clinical trials. While working as a clinical research nurse coordinator at Tisch Cancer Institute (TCI), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (MSSM) Christa graduated from Yale University’s School of Nursing with a Masters of Science in Nursing Degree in the Nurse Practitioner Specialty with a concentration in oncology. Upon graduation she was promoted to the Nurse Manager role within the department. She recently graduated from Yale School of Nursing’s Clinical DNP Program where her project titled, “The Use of Teach-back During Informed Consent in Oncology Clinical Trials” revealed an improvement in confidence levels with use of the teach-back method during the the cancer clinical trial consent process. She was a part of the first graduating class in this specialty program. 

Most recently, Christa was the Associate Director, Clinical Operations at TCI, MSSM. Christa has published multiple scientific peer reviewed journal articles. Christa has presented poster and podium presentations at various conferences across the world. Christa has a particular interest in Clinical Research Nursing education.