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Principal Investigator: Melissa Troester, MPH, PhD

Dr. Melissa Troester, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, with joint appointment in Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, leads the CBCS3 project with Shelton Earp, MD, the Director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Troester is co-leader of Lineberger’s Program in Cancer Epidemiology and the Director of the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility. Her research focuses on biomarker development and validation, genomic methods, epidemiologic methods, and breast cancer. She has been leading CBCS molecular research since 2012 and has more than a decade of experience working with genomic data and molecular biology of breast cancer risk and progression.

You can learn more about Dr. Troester and her research by visiting her university websites here and here.


Telephone Interviewers

The aim for CBCS3 is to follow-up with its nearly 3,000 enrolled participants for 15 years after their diagnosis with breast cancer, or at least as long as those participants are willing and able to generously share their lives with the study. To make participation, as easy as possible, CBCS3 conducts its annual or biennial surveys over the telephone.

Erin and Linda make all of the follow-up calls for CBCS3. If you received a newsletter and want to complete your follow-up call, please don’t hesitate to contact them! They are always happy to hear from you. In case they don’t hear from you first, one of them will call you to get updated information on your general health and treatment history. All active participants receive a follow-up call from either Erin or Linda.


Erin Erin has been involved in research at UNC since 2010. Prior to joining the Carolina Breast Cancer Study in 2016, she interviewed patients enrolled in two kidney disease studies conducted by the School of Nursing. Erin thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to connect with breast cancer survivors to gather important information through telephone interviews.




LindaLinda is a breast cancer survivor herself, diagnosed in 2008. She has been involved in research since 2010. As a woman with no risk factors, other than being one of the “1 in 8” statistics, she is a strong advocate for early detection, regular self breast exams, and yearly mammograms. Linda really enjoys talking and getting to know the women in this study and hearing about their experiences.



Project Director: Heather Tipaldos

Heather Tipaldos, MS, CRA is a highly positive, innovative individual who thrives on consistently raising the standards of personal and professional excellence.  She is deeply committed to community engagement and is dedicated to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the research sector.  She has proven experience in project management within top University Research Institutions.  Heather brings to the study creativity, resourcefulness, and innovation with a firm commitment to delivering outstanding service to all those she serves.

With over 25 years of research administration management and government/regulatory compliance and oversight experience in both public and private University Systems, Heather has experience in management, team building, professional development, strategic implementation, and project collaboration.   She manages, leads, and strategically plans and structures the research operations and is always looking to continuously improve and streamline processes while ensuring compliance with regulatory agencies.   Heather is responsible for leading staff and insuring program deliverables and collaboratively implementing activities.    Heather is currently the Research Project Director for the Carolina Breast Cancer Studies, Carolina Head and Neck Cancer Study, Carolina Endometrial Cancer Study, and is the Facility Director for Rapid Case Ascertainment, a collaboration between UNC Lineberger, the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry (CCR), and participating hospitals in North Carolina.


Project Manager: Joan Thomas

Joan Thomas MS, RDN is a dedicated research professional who works, along with the study team, to seek excellence in all aspects of the Carolina Breast Cancer Studies. She desires to ensure study participants have quality research experiences while maintaining precision in execution of the specified CBCS aims and outcomes. She brings over 20 years of experience in observational and behavioral intervention research within multidisciplinary, multi-site research teams. Joan is currently the Research Project Manager for the Carolina Breast Cancer Studies. Within CBCS, Joan is responsible for oversight of human subjects research approvals, quality control, and data integrity activities. She also manages day-to-day administration of the Carolina Breast Cancer Studies, managing staff and coordinating enrollment and data collection for CBCS study participants.


CBCS3 Support Staff

There are many research assistants and specialists who work behind the scenes at CBCS scenes every day with more than 75 years of combined research experience. They produce and send mailings, obtain medical records and tumor specimens, and clean, code, and enter survey data. Some of their lives have been personally touched by breast cancer, but all are dedicated to the success of this important research.





In Memory of Robert Millikan


Dr. Robert Millikan, Barbara Soren­son Hulka Distin­guished Professor of Cancer Epide­miology, died Sun­day, October 7, 2012. He was 55 years old. Bob had been involved in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study since its inception in 1993. He had designed and directed CBCS3 study until his death. A member of the epidemiology faculty at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1993, Dr. Millikan’s research in cancer epidemiology brought hope for bet­ter understanding and treatment of breast cancer, particularly for young African-American women who dis­proportionately die from the disease.

Bob was an exceptional scholar, teacher, mentor and colleague. He will be missed not only for his contributions to the department, school and university, but also to the larger community, including the national breast cancer advocacy community. The UNC Department of Epidemiology website includes a tribute and memorial page in Bob’s honor.