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Communication Student Accepted into Prestigious Internship Program at the National Cancer Institute University News
For release, June 15, 2009

For press information, contact Simone Notter Wilson (901) 678-4164

Tesfa Alexander, second-year doctoral student studying cross-cultural health communication in the Department of Communication, has been selected for the highly competitive and prestigious internship in health communication with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. Starting in August, Alexander will spend six months in NCI's Communication Planning and Coordination Branch of the Office of Communications. His responsibilities will include using evidence-based strategies to plan for the effective dissemination of NCI's information to diverse audiences and coordinating cross-divisional communications issues/activities related to special programs and initiatives.

"Current and predicted cancer incidence and mortality rates among African Americans underscore the notion that more needs to be done in the field of health communication to help break down barriers that contribute to higher cancer rates among ethnic minorities," Alexander says. "NCI recognizes this need, along with the significant contribution strategic health communication can make in the reduction of cancer health disparities. It is this unwavering devotion to the field and most of all, commitment to improving the health of the underrepresented that inspires me to become an active member of the NCI community."

In addition, NCI interns frequently work on high-profile assignments such as, researching and developing briefing materials for the President's Cancer Panel, developing comprehensive communication plans and multimedia presentations for the Science Writers Seminars, as well as assisting with the creation and revision of Consumer Health Profiles (CHP) materials.

Alexander came to Memphis with a professional background in global healthcare public relations and a passion for social justice. He is currently exploring barriers in the development and implementation of effective public health strategies that reduce socioeconomic health disparities domestically and abroad. Since his arrival in Memphis, Alexander has been involved in innovative research that ranges from working with health administrators at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis to developing a communication intervention that enhances relationship-centered care for patients suffering from co-morbidities, to conducting fieldwork in Southwest Uganda that bridges the communication gap between traditional and modern health practitioners to increase quality healthcare access for Ugandans living in rural communities. He was invited to join Phi Kappa Phi this past March, and won the honor society's competitive scholarship.

The NCI, the largest of the 27 institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the Federal Government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs that focus on cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients as well as the families of cancer patients.

The Institute's Health Communications Internship Program (HCIP) was established in 1975 because the organization recognized that health information distribution is important to raising public awareness about new cancer treatments, support for cancer patients and their families, and prevention strategies.

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