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UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has appointed Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN, OCN, FAAN, as assistant director of Cancer Research Training Education Coordination (CRTEC). Bryant joins Bernard Weissman, PhD, and Jen Jen Yeh, MD, co-associate directors of CRTEC.

ashley leak
Ashley Leak Bryant

The goal of CRTEC is to develop the next generation of cancer researchers and professionals by supporting interdisciplinary education and training in the context of cancer care and research to encourage students and trainees to join the cancer care and research community and to develop the next generation of successful cancer researchers and professionals.

Bryant, an associate professor at the UNC School of Nursing, is nationally recognized for her research expertise on caring for older adults, palliative and supportive care, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), interprofessional collaboration, and workforce development.

Notably, Bryant has been actively engaged with building oncology nursing capacity and training with Lixin Song, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Jen Hotchkiss, MSN, RN, OCN, at UNC Project Malawi (UNCPM). In June 2018, Bryant and colleagues hosted a delegation of key nursing professionals from UNCPM and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, collaborating with the Malawi team to perform a needs assessment of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), Malawi Palliative Care and Malawi Ministry of Health for oncology nursing capacity building in Malawi.

Since then, Bryant and colleagues have helped to facilitate and lead key capacity building activities in Malawi. In December 2018, Bryant and colleagues visited KCN, KCH and UNCPM in Malawi. Bryant and colleagues also facilitated the development and implementation of virtual short modular basic oncology nursing courses, training more than 50 Malawian nurses; engaged faculty at KCH and KCN and supported the implementation of KCN Oncology Nursing baccalaureate degree program; and provided mentorship to UNCPM Director of Nursing Agatha Bula, PhD, MPH, RNM and Chifundo Zimba, PhD, RNM, senior qualitative researcher at UNCPM.

kamuzu college of nursing
Collaborative meeting at Kamuzu College of Nursing, Dec 2018

In July 2019, Bryant and Jen Hotchkiss visited Malawi to support the development of policies and guidelines to prepare KCH for the opening of the new cancer center, enhance the quality of patient care and promote a safe environment for KCH nurses. Bryant, Bula and Zimba jointly conduct various oncology nursing research activities at the KCH cancer clinic. Recent studies include “Hearing the Voice of the Malawian Clinicians, Patients, and Guardians”, a qualitative study, an educational study to evaluate knowledge change before and after continuing cancer education in Malawian nurses and a systematic review to identify articles focused in psychosocial care and supportive care in individuals with cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. Three peer-reviewed papers have been published from the systematic review.

In May 2020, Bryant and colleagues from UNCPM and UNC School of Nursing presented at the 3rd Annual Malawi Cancer Symposium, highlighting the capacity building partnership between UNC School of Nursing, KCN and UNCPM and future strategic challenges and opportunities for continued collaboration.

Bryant will continue to work closely with KCN and play an active role in building capacity for oncology nursing in Malawi as a faculty mentor for the Malawi Cancer Outcomes Research Program (M-CORP); a five-year D43 training grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute which aims to expand the capacity of UNC’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to train the next generation of cancer researchers in Malawi.