Cancer Moonshot Panelists

Margaret L. Kripke, PhD (she/her)
Margaret L. Kripke, PhD

Professor Emerita, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Margaret Kripke received her bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and doctorate in immunology from the University of California at Berkeley.  Dr. Kripke holds appointments as Professor Emerita at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.  She has authored more than 250 scientific publications and received many awards for her research on UV –induced skin cancers and the effects of UV light on the immune system.

She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research. Dr. Kripke was founding Chair of the Department of Immunology and subsequently served as Executive VP and Chief Academic Officer at M. D. Anderson. She also served as a member of the President’s Cancer Panel from 2003-2011 and Chief Scientific Officer of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas from 2013-2016.

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH (she/her)
Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH

Executive Director/Council Member, Children’s Environmental Health Network/Cancer Free Economy Network

Ms. Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH, serves as the Executive Director for the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), where her responsibilities include successfully organizing, leading, and managing child-protective policy, education/training, and science-related programs.

For the past 23 years, she has served as a key spokesperson for children’s vulnerabilities and the need for their protection, conducting presentations and lectures across the country.

She is a leader in the field of children’s environmental health, serving on the External Science Board for the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) NIH Research work. She is a Co-Leader the Health/Science initiative of the Cancer Free Economy Network and Co-Chair of the National Environmental Health Partnership Council. Ms. Witherspoon is also the Board Chair for the Pesticide Action Network of North America, Board Member for the Environmental Integrity Project Healthy Building Network, and Jenifer Altman Foundation, and serves on the

Maryland Children’s Environmental Health Advisory Council.

Ms. Witherspoon has a B.S. in Biology Pre Med from Siena College and a M.P.H. in Maternal and Child Health from The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services. She is a proud mom to 4 children!

Trevor Schaefer (he/him)
Trevor Schaefer

Executive Director and Childhood Cancer Survivor, Trevor’s Trek Foundation and Trevor’s Law

Trevor Schaefer was born on October 19, 1989 in San Diego, California. He moved to McCall, Idaho when he was six years old. Trevor lived with his parents on Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho until he was diagnosed with brain cancer in November of 2002. At that time he and his mother moved to Boise, Idaho where he underwent an eight hour surgery to remove a golf ball size tumor from the base of his brain. Post surgery Trevor endured 6 weeks of radiation treatment followed by 14 months of chemotherapy. With his mother Charlie by his side every step of the way, in September 2007 Trevor helped organize the first childhood cancer awareness walk in Idaho.

In 2009 Trevor co-founded Trevor’s Trek Foundation to create childhood cancer awareness and support research and investigation into the causation and prevention of childhood cancer. Trevor was instrumental in starting the ‘Kids for Wish Kids’ program with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho as well as the inspiration behind Trevor’s Lawexternal icon, cancer cluster legislation that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 22, 2016. Trevor has also co-authored a book entitled “The Boy on the Lake” which chronicles his life, battle with cancer and journey to the introduction of Trevor’s Law.

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH (he/him)
Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH

Secretary of Health, Washington State Department of Health

Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, was appointed Secretary of Health by Governor Jay Inslee and joined the Department of Health in December 2020. Prior to this role, Dr. Shah served as Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) – the nationally accredited county public health agency for the nation’s 3rd largest county with 4.7 million people.

Upon completing training, Dr. Shah began a distinguished career as an emergency department physician at Houston’s Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center. He started his formal public health journey as Chief Medical Officer at Galveston County’s Health District before joining HCPH to oversee its clinical health system and infectious disease portfolio. Under his leadership, HCPH has won numerous national awards including recognition as Local Health Department of the Year from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in 2016.

Dr. Shah currently holds numerous leadership positions with respected entities like the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention; Trust for America’s Health; Network for Public Health Law; and Texas Medical Association. He previously served as president of NACCHO (and its Texas affiliate) representing the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health departments. Over his career, Dr. Shah has been a clinician, an innovator, an educator, and a leader in health.

Xiao-Cheng Wu, MD, MPH (she/her)
Xiao-Cheng Wu, MD, MPH

Director/Professor, Louisiana Tumor Registry/Epidemiology Program, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans

Dr. Wu is the Director of the Louisiana Tumor Registry (LTR) and professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. She has worked with LTR for over 25 years, with extensive experience in registry operations and use of cancer registry data and infrastructure for research. Dr. Wu served as primary investigator for numerous NCI, NIH, CDC, PCORI, and AHRQ-funded research studies, including patterns of care studies, patient-reported Health-Related Quality of life studies, and biospecimen research.

Dr. Wu has published over 160 manuscripts as the lead or co-author on various topics, including health disparities in cancer and socioeconomic determinants of the quality of cancer care in peer-reviewed journals. She has served on committees and workgroups locally and nationally, such as the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries’ Research and Data Use Steering Committee, Research Application Review Workgroup (Chairperson), Louisiana Vital Records Review Panel, and Data Committee of the Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana initiative.

Patrick Breysse, PhD, CIH (he/him)
Patrick Breysse, PhD, CIH

Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Patrick N. Breysse, PhD, CIH, joined CDC in December 2014 as the Director of NCEH/ATSDR. Dr. Breysse leads CDC’s efforts to investigate the relationship between environmental factors and health. Under his leadership, the agency has prioritized work on safe drinking water, initiated new ATSDR actions to address exposure to hazardous chemicals, and has played a critical role in CDC’s emergency preparedness and response to natural disasters and chemical exposures.

Dr. Breysse is committed to addressing current safe water challenges in the United States. Since arriving at CDC, he has led the public health response to the Flint water crisis and remains focused on preventing lead exposures from public drinking water. NCEH/ATSDR is a leading federal partner in efforts to examine exposure to PFOA/PFAS, to identify cancer clusters, to maintain water safety (e.g. recreational water, water from private wells along with other small nonregulated water systems, irrigation water used in agricultural settings), and to address public health implications of drought and presence of biofilm organisms in aging water infrastructure.

Dr. Breysse received his PhD in Environmental Health Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and completed postdoctoral training at the British Institute for Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Page last reviewed: April 29, 2022