Experienced in Mentoring, Teaching and Cancer Research

The UIC Cancer Education and Career Development Program’s leadership team oversees the program’s scientific and administrative direction in consultation with the program’s advisory committees:

  • Co-Director: Marian Fitzgibbon
  • Co-Director: Caryn Peterson
  • Community Engagement: Karriem Watson
  • Program Coordinator: Mirjana Antonic


Marian Fitzgibbon

Marian Fitzgibbon, PhD, is a professor of pediatrics and health policy and administration with appointments in the UIC College of Medicine and the UIC School of Public Health. She is associate director of cancer prevention and control in the University of Illinois Cancer Center, and associate director of the Institute for Health Research and Policy.

Dr. Fitzgibbon’s research has focused predominantly on cancer risk reduction interventions in minority populations. She receives consistent funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and developed with colleagues an evidence-based obesity prevention intervention for preschool minority children. She served as a standing member on the NIH Behavioral Medicine Interventions and Outcomes (BMIO) study section (2011-2015) and chaired the Psychosocial Risk and Disease Prevention Study Section (2007-2009). Dr. Fitzgibbon has a strong history of mentoring students from a variety of backgrounds.

Caryn Peterson

Caryn Peterson, PhD, is a research assistant professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health.

Dr. Peterson’s research is related to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in cancer outcomes. Her research focuses primarily on gynecologic cancers and the effects of individual-level characteristics and area-level socioeconomic factors on racial and ethnic disparities in cancer-specific survival. Most recently, Dr. Peterson extended her research to examine determinants of racial disparities in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.

Karriem Watson

Dr. Karriem S. Watson, DHSc, MS, MPH, is a research scientist and director of the Office of Community Engaged Research and Implementation Science (OCERIS) of the UI Cancer Center and of the Mile Square Health Center, a group of Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHCs) affiliated with the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. Dr. Watson has a Doctorate in Health Science (Global Health), a M.S. in Basic Medical Research, and a M.P.H. (Community Health Sciences). His work with OCERIS supports the UI Cancer Center by fostering community and academic partnerships and supporting research and training conducted at the community level. The UI Cancer Center has become one of the country’s first community-focused cancer centers by fostering access to and awareness of community-based cancer screening, education, prevention services, survivorship support, and clinical trial engagement. He sits on several national and local boards dedicated to strengthening community capacity and youth development to foster the interest of young people in science, research and health care careers.

Mirjana Antonic

Mirjana Antonic, M.Ed serves as the Coordinator of the Cancer Education and Career Development Program. In this role, she oversees administrative, programming and grants management aspects of the program. Ms. Antonic has worked as a Research Specialist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy for 8 years. In the last 5 years, she has specifically worked with Dr. Fitzgibbon assisting in various projects and events through IHRP and the Cancer Center.