Man was it hot!
It is with great pleasure that I present Dr. Carol Hanchette for your admiring attention. My enthusiasm has two sources. First, Dr. Hanchette is an Earth Scientist, not a Biochemist or M.D. Second, she is engaged in research that will further Clifton Leaf’s (and my own) priority – to “preempt” ovarian cancer. Dr. Hanchette is using the techniques of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis to determine whether or not proximity to pulp and paper mills is associated with an enhanced prevalence of ovarian cancer. She is on the faculty of the University of Louisville, in the department of Geography and Geosciences. Dr. Hanchette is one of eight successful applicants for the Marsha Rivkin Center’s Pilot Study grants. The award is $75,000, for one year. For many of the biological cancer studies I have followed, $75K would barely cover the cost of feeding the lab animals, but for an earth scientist it is a considerable chunk of change. Spend it wisely, Dr. Hanchette.
Apparently Dr. Hanchette has preliminary data suggesting a spatial correlation between ovarian cancer and pulp mills. A systematic GIS study clearly is the way to rigorously test the hypothesis that the two in fact are related. Then harder questions arise: (1) is the correlation one of cause and effect, or is it more complicated? For instance, it is possible (although astronomically unlikely) that the increased ovarian-cancer incidence arises because women living near pulp mills drink unusually high quantities of hard liquor, in order to be able to ignore the smell, and the booze is to blame. And then, of course, once the cause-and-effect is established the biochemist must step in: (2) How does a pulp mill cause ovarian cancer, and what can be done about it.
Dr. Hanchette obtained her PhD from the University of North Carolina. She describes herself as a Medical Geographer. Much of her previous work seems to involve environmental effects on the prevalence of prostate cancer. Currently she is an Associate Professor. One hopes that, with the results of this study in print and validated, she quickly is promoted to Full Professor, with a substantial raise.