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MCI Culinary Class

Cancer Prevention Program

The region’s only active and comprehensive cancer prevention program is conducted by USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute.

USA Health Cancer Prevention Program

At USA Health, we know that the best defense against cancer is to take all precautions possible against it. That’s why we have a robust and active cancer prevention program, the only one of its kind in the region. In fact, we devote an entire division to this endeavor at Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Our team's research and outreach programs target the diverse populations that we serve in the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast region. The specific areas of research where our program focuses are:

  • Behavioral and population sciences
  • Cancer detection and screening
  • Cancer care delivery
  • Surveillance
  • Cancer survivorship

Our efforts don’t remain in the academic classrooms or research labs. We take what we learn into the community, because education makes a difference. Cancer can be prevented when behaviors are modified. Cancer may also be detected earlier because of improved screening and awareness of signs and symptoms that indicate a possible problem. When someone has an early diagnosis of cancer, outcomes improve, because the disease is less advanced and patients working closely with their doctors understand the importance of complying with their treatment regimen. Patients also feel empowered when fully engaged in shared decision making with their provider.


Cancer control is a science that applies research conducted in behavioral, social and population science. By understanding how to track and modify both individual and collective behaviors in the community, we are able to influence public policy and practice in a way that improves the health of the community as a whole with regard to cancer.

Current projects include basic and translational programs, prevention and early detection, clinical treatment, clinical research and survivorship.

Read: HPV-related cancer rates affect vaccine uptake in Alabama, study says
Read: Block party for a cause: increasing vaccination rates in rural Alabama

Community Outreach and Engagement

Education and awareness are often the first steps to diminishing risk and preventing cancer. USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute offers a variety of classes and opportunities that help patients and their caregivers understand their disease better.

MCI also supports cancer education in the community at large by providing educational talks in partnership with local churches and civic groups and by participating in local health fairs and job site wellness events. Empowering patients, their caregivers and others to learn more about cancer, to learn how to protect themselves and their families, and to learn how to minimize risk or recurrence helps to reduce the burden of cancer in our community and helps people lead longer, better lives.

Cancer Prevention Classes and Events

Education and awareness are often the first steps to avoiding cancer.

On-Site Events

  • Hope Wellness Survivorship
  • Hope Wellness Yoga
  • Hope Wellness Walking
  • Lunch and Learns
  • Support groups (Breast,GYN and General)

Community Outreach Events

  • Culinary Medicine
    The Culinary Medicine Program is a free, six-week series designed to teach about food as medicine. You will join other cancer survivors and work with trained chefs and registered dietitians to learn how to make delicious and flavorful food that happens to be good for you. You will learn a variety of food preparation skills and techniques to help meal plan, grocery shop, and eat right on a budget. If you are interested in the program, please call (251) 445-9691 and leave your name and phone number. MCI staff will then contact you with more information on the program and your eligibility.
  • Alabama Hope Project Training
    The Alabama Hope Project is a lay health advisor program designed to improve breast and cervical cancer screening referral in southwest Alabama and communities surrounding the Mitchell Cancer Institute. The program trains cancer survivors and lay health educators on breast and cervical cancer, community engagement, and advocacy to promote the benefits of cancer screening at community outreach events. If you are interested in joining the program, please contact Janel Lowman at
  • Speaker's Bureau
    MCI seeks to positively impact our community by supporting civic and faith-based organizations promoting the education and well-being of their membership. Speakers address the burden of cancer in our region and share knowledge and solutions for working together to diminish both incidence and mortality for our population. If you would like to have a speaker for an upcoming event or meeting within your organization, please contact Susan Crutchfield at or (251) 445-9829.

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Beyond USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute

Our efforts to reduce the burden of cancer are not achieved in a vacuum. We’re committed to working together with other entities toward the shared goal of improving outcomes for the people of the Gulf Coast region. This includes reducing health disparities. Health disparities are the differences in health outcomes that are related to certain groups of people based on race, age, socioeconomic status and access to health care. At MCI, we partner with a number of institutions and agencies including the Alabama Department of Public Health, the American Cancer Society, UAB and the Gulf States Health Policy Center. Current important initiatives are:

  • The Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition (ACCCC)
    This statewide network creates and maintains an effective, coordinated way to reduce cancer and cancer-related deaths, as well as improve the quality of life for those who survive.
  • The Alabama Adolescent Vaccination Task Force (AAVTF)
    This statewide initiative brings together organizations with a common goal in order to increase Alabama adolescent vaccination rates, with a specific focus on HPV Vaccination.

Meet our Team

Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.O.G.

Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.O.G., is the Division Director of Cancer Control and Prevention, Program Director for the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship, and a Professor of Interdisciplinary Clinical Oncology at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. She joined MCI in 2017 with national expertise in human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer and currently serves as the Leader of Cancer Prevention and Control as well as an Abraham A. Mitchell Clinical Cancer Research Scholar. She went to medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She completed her residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital Integrated Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School, and she completed her fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology and a master’s degree in public health at the University of Virginia (UVA). Before coming to MCI, Dr. Pierce practiced at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center in South Carolina for eight years while also conducting collaborative and translational research to advance knowledge in cervical cancer screening and treatment. She was named a Research All-Star by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is a GOG Young Investigator Award Winner.

Alyssa Burch, M.P.H.

Alyssa Burch, M.P.H., serves as Research Assistant for the Cancer Control and Prevention, and Family Medicine divisions. Hailing from South Carolina, she received a Bachelor of Science in biology before earning a Master of Public Health from the University of Missouri. She has several years of experience in health education, community engagement and vaccination promotion. Her current work often focuses on the prevention of HPV-associated cancers.

Susan Crutchfield, B.S., R.N., serves as Manager of Community and Physician Outreach. A native of the Black Belt of Alabama, Ms. Crutchfield has a strong interest in improving population health through the prevention of chronic diseases, including cancer. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Auburn University School of Nursing and has been a part of the Cancer Control and Prevention team at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute since 2008.

Casey Daniel, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Casey Daniel, Ph.D., M.P.H., serves as Assistant Professor of Oncologic Sciences, working on strategies to prevent and control cancer. A Birmingham native, she is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College with a master’s degree in public health and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Daniel completed a postdoctoral cancer prevention fellowship at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her research focuses heavily on prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers, with particular concentration on adolescent vaccination uptake and completion. She is dedicated to improving vaccination rates and health outcomes, especially in rural and underserved populations, targeting health disparities. Her other work in cancer control and prevention emphasizes health communications, dissemination and implementation science, behavioral intervention development and evaluation, as well as the use of mixed methods research. Daniel is Chair of the Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition and recipient of the UAB School of Public Health Early Career Achievement Alumni Award.

Bryanna Diaz, M.P.A.

Bryanna Diaz, M.P.A., serves as Research Coordinator. A native of Navarre, Florida, she received a Master of Public Administration with a healthcare concentration from the University of South Alabama.




Janel Lowman, M.H.A.

Janel Lowman, M.H.A., has over a decade of community outreach experience with the University of South Alabama. Lowman’s current role is Senior Manager, Community Outreach. Her role encompasses community engagement, developing and implementing cancer screening initiatives throughout the region.


Sheila McElhany, B.S.W.

Sheila McElhany, B.S.W., serves as Associate Manager of Patient Supportive Care Services. McElhany graduated from Troy University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and currently is pursuing a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in healthcare. She has a passion for serving others, and her goal is to connect individuals and their families to local, state and national resources during their cancer journey. McElhany assists in grant implementation to deliver supportive care services to oncology patients. She also oversees and coordinates the patient lodging and transportation program funded by the American Cancer Society. She is a compassionate lay navigator encouraging individuals and families to build relationships and to be motivated in pursuing assistance.

Chelsea L. McGowen, M.P.H., serves as associate manager for the Cancer Control and Prevention Division. She received her undergraduate degree and master's degree in public health from Samford University.

Carrie McNair, M.P.H.

Carrie McNair, M.P.H., serves as a Research Assistant. A native of Florence, Alabama, she earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and Spanish, and a Master of Public Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She brings diverse experience to the research team and is particularly interested in improving patient and caregiver experiences. 

Cathy Tinnea, L.P.N., has been with MCI since 2009. Tinnea has served in numerous roles in the Division of Cancer Control and Prevention, as Manager of Patient Services, Manager of Lay Navigation and leading both Lunch and Learn and Survivorship programs, as well as facilitating support groups. Tinnea has worked exclusively with cancer patients since 1980 and continues to have a strong interest in providing quality educational programs and services to assist patients from the moment of diagnosis into full survivorship.

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Clinical Trials

At USA Health, we are continuously involved in clinical trials that offer hope to people with cancer. Learn about some of the trials that are currently underway.

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Education and Research

Our efforts to improve patient outcomes go beyond prevention. Find out everything USA Health is doing to transform medicine.

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