Dr. Carolann Risley
Dr. Carolann Risley
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Risley returns to UMMC

Published on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

By: Cynthia Wall,

Dr. Carolann Risley recently returned to the University of Mississippi Medical Center as an associate professor of nursing and member of the UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute.

Risley has focused on research into the basis for racial disparities in cervical cancer since she was a UMMC graduate student. 

Risley completed her master’s degree and board certification as a nurse practitioner at the University of Pennsylvania.  In 2019, she defended her PhD and graduated from UMMC’s School of Nursing under the direction of Drs. Mary Stewart and Joey Granger. She recently completed an NIH fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in the Clinical Genetics Branch under the mentorship of Drs. Nicolas Wentzensen and Megan Clarke. 

Risley is the UMMC principal investigator of a multi-sector research effort called STRIDES – Studying Risk to Improve Disparities. The study is a multi-pronged approach to evaluate the risk of cervical precancer and cancer, assess the performance of HPV-related biomarkers for early detection of cancer, improve HPV vaccination rates, and to evaluate those lost to follow-up in cervical cancer care. This collaborative study is co-led by researchers at the UMMC School of Nursing, the Mississippi State Department of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

The study, funded through the NCI Cancer Moonshot, is a large ongoing population-based cohort study of females undergoing cervical cancer screening in Mississippi.  Her investigation, started as part of her dissertation research, led to this larger collaborative study.   

“This is one of the most important ongoing prospective studies of cervical cancer in the nation, focused on improving outcomes for all women in the state of Mississippi,” said Dr. Nita Maihle, CCRI associate director.

“The age-adjusted mortality rate for cervical cancer in our state is the highest in the country – almost double the national average - in spite of advances over the past few decades in both cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination.  This is a critical public health problem in our state – and the studies led by Dr. Risley and her collaborators will directly address this critical health care disparity.”