Dr. Sheryl McCurdy, PhD

Dr.McCurdy had a long engagement with HIV Prevention with people who use drugs (PWUD), sex workers, and LGBTQ communities. She has long and deep community engagement research and technical support to marginalized, HIV-affected, and substance-using populations and qualitative research methods teaching experiences. . She has worked collaboratively with U.S. and African colleagues for over 30 years with NIH, NSF, CDC, SSRC, and Fulbright-funded mixed-methods research. Her research focus is on health disparities due to exposures to biological (HIV/AIDS, HCV), chemicals (illicit drugs), and non-chemical (psychosocial) stressors arising from communities’ historical, socioeconomic, religious, cultural, and political experiences and negotiation with difficult environmental conditions, poverty, and marginalization. 

This background has allowed her to facilitate NIDA-funded collaborative research that began as HIV prevention in 2003 and led to the creation of the first harm reduction and publicly funded medically assisted therapy (MAT) clinic on the African continent. Using implementation science, this clinic was upscaled to different regions throughout Tanzania and Kenya. Her four PI- and co-PI-funded projects, a three-year NSF-funded cultural anthropology senior scholar award to continue her community-engaged research with marginalized populations in Texas and Tanzania. The Texas-focused community engagement and implementation science projects include two HRSA-funded paraprofessional peer-training programs and a Texas state contract to provide free MAT recovery housing.

Dr. Kathleen Schmeler, MD

  Dr. Schmeler is a professor in Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She provides care to women with gynecologic malignancies, including surgery, chemotherapy, and preventive services. Dr. Schmeler is also director of the colposcopy clinics at MD Anderson and its partner public institution, Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where she treats women with preinvasive cervical disease. She was recently named the Executive Director of Global Oncology for the MD Anderson Cancer Network. Dr. Schmeler received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, before pursuing her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania–Hahnemann University School of Medicine in 

Philadelphia. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brown University’s Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. She came to MD Anderson in 2004 as a fellow in Gynecologic Oncology and joined the faculty in 2007. Her research interest is in cervical cancer prevention and treatment, particularly for resource-constrained countries and for medically underserved women in the U.S. She is conducting several clinical trials with MD Anderson sister institutions in Latin America and Africa. Dr. Schmeler chairs the Training and Mentoring Committee of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS), and she helps oversee the Global Curriculum and Mentoring Program, a gynecologic oncology training program for regions that do not have formalized training. This two-year fellowship matches gynecologic oncologists from high-resource settings with physicians in regions that do not offer formal training in the specialty. The program currently has training sites in Vietnam, the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Guatemala, and Liberia. Dr. Schmeler is also co-leader of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), designed to share knowledge from the academic centers with the community. The program began in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where cervical cancer rates are 30 percent higher than in
the rest of the state. Project ECHO uses a video conference program to link MD Anderson faculty in Houston with Rio Grande Valley clinicians to discuss patient cases and teach medical techniques. The ECHO program has since expanded across many disease sites and geographic locations, including several African and Latin American countries.