21st Annual Symposium

Special Address

Tene Hamilton Franklin

Vice President of
Health Equity and Stakeholder Engagement
Health Leads

CAB Member

Tené Hamilton Franklin is the Vice President of Health Equity and Stakeholder Engagement at Health Leads. She also leads on public health strategic approaches to addressing health equity in local communities and co-leads the Vaccine Equity Cooperative specifically convening philanthropy, government and community-based organizations on efforts to create solutions for mitigation of the COVID-19 virus. Prior to joining Health Leads, Tené served as the Director of the Tennessee Department of Health Office of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination, and as a genetic counselor at Meharry Medical College, helping to provide support to families with members with disorders including Sickle cell disease. Tené is active in her community through a myriad of volunteer and advocacy efforts. She is the Chair of the Metro Public Health Department in Nashville, TN; a member of the MNPS Director’s Parent Advisory Committee; a member of the Vanderbilt Institutional for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) Community Engaged Research Core; Tennessee State NAACP Health Chair; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and is a member of the Baylor School Alumni Board. Tene, a native of Chattanooga, TN, holds a master’s degree in genetic counseling from Howard University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia. Tené is a member of Schrader Lane Church or Christ and with her husband and two daughters in Nashville, TN. Tené is a two-year survivor of Triple Negative Breast Cancer.


Phillip J. Browning Keynote Address

Dr. John D. Carpten currently serves as Professor and Chair for the Department of Translational Genomics, and is the Royce and Mary Trotter Chair for Cancer Research, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA. He also serves as Associate Director of Basic Sciences for the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Carpten attended Lane College, a Historically Black College, in Jackson, TN where he completed his B.S. degree in Biology in 1988. He received his PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the Ohio State University in 1994. After completing his postdoctoral fellowship at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the NIH, Bethesda, MD in 1999, he was promoted to the tenure track at NHGRI in 1999. Prior to his current appointment at USC in 2016, he served as Professor and Deputy Director of Basic Sciences at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Carpten’s expertise spans a very broad range of research disciplines including genome science, tumor profiling, cancer cell biology, functional genomics, health disparities, and precision medicine. He has been honored with numerous awards.

Dr. Zhenbang Chen is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Cancer Biology, Neuroscience and Pharmacology at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN. Dr. Chen obtained his Ph.D. degree in Plant Biochemistry in 1999 from The Ohio State University, OH. He received the postdoc trainings in Cancer Biology and Cancer Genetics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, MA, respectively. He joined in Meharry Medical College as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in 2008, and has been promoted to Full Professor in 2022. His research interests have been focused on the investigation and targeting of the oncogenic signaling pathways such as PI3K/AKT and epigenetics in human cancers including prostate cancer. Discoveries in his group have been published in the high-impact journals in the field of cancer research. He is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Society for Basic Urologic Research (SBUR).

Dr. Koh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Tennessee State University. Dr. Koh obtained his PhD from Kyungpook National University, Daegu in 2002. His research has focused on the investigation of TRB3 protein in muscle mass regulation and brown adipose tissue metabolism since his first tenure-track position in 2013. Dr. Koh was trained to research glucose metabolism and exercise physiology in the Dr. Goodyear laboratory at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School. His independent works have been published in several peer-review journals, and he serves on the review board of the Skeletal Muscle Exercise Physiology (SMEP) Study Section for the National Institute of Health. He is an active member of the American Diabetes Association, the American Physiological Society, and the American Heart Association.

Dr. Roberson is an Assistant Professor in the department of Health Policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Her broad research interests are in applying epidemiologic methods to health policy and health services research to promote health equity using big data. She is specifically interested in equity in cancer care delivery for Black people in the US South. Dr. Roberson has experience working in cancer registries, claims data, national healthcare databases and electronic health records, along with expertise in health disparities, health equity and social epidemiology theory. Dr. Roberson earned her MSPH and PhD degrees in the field of epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. While at the University of North Carolina she was a Truman Scholar and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar.

Dr. Williams is a recent graduate from the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology program in the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Meharry Medical College. Working under the mentorship of triple-negative breast cancer researcher Amos Sakwe, PhD, MSCI, his thesis work aimed to eradicate the alarming breast cancer health disparities amongst African American women. His research has been featured at international scientific meetings such as American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting and Experimental Biology. As part of his role in educating the community, Dr. Williams conducts a lecture entitled “Stating the facts and addressing the future: A closer look into Breast & Prostate Cancer Awareness” to students in the Master of Health Sciences program at Meharry, as well as Tennessee State and Fisk University Biology Graduate Students. Dr. Williams has accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship position at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX.