The Team

GYRIG photo

The PREFACE Study Team ahead of the annual "Get Your Rear in Gear" 5k, March 2023. (From left to right: Carol Haas, Samantha Keller, Rebecca (Shreffler) Babyak, Dr. Holowatyj, Luke Kopco, Lisa Long)

Principal Investigator

Dr. Andreana N. Holowatyj, PhD, MSCI

Assistant Professor of Medicine & Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt University School of  Medicine



Dr. Holowatyj has passionately worked for over 8 years to understand the growing burden and unique needs of patients diagnosed with cancer before age 50 years—both in the clinic and in the laboratory. She earned her PhD in Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Holowatyj then became an NIH/NHGRI Fellow in Genomic Medicine as well as the Susan Cooper Jones Endowed Postdoctoral Fellow in Cancer Research at the University of Utah, where she also earned an MS in Clinical Investigation at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, Utah.

 At Vanderbilt, Dr. Holowatyj's team continues to focus on the essential need to treat the whole patient for whom multiple life domains are impacted after a cancer diagnosis—specifically among individuals younger than age 50. She created and leads the Reproductive Health After Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment (REACT) Study which has identified key challenges that individuals within this population are facing across their cancer journey. These findings have contributed to the development of the PREFACE Study, where we are working to discover new ways to improve reproductive health and survivorship for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer before age 50.

Study Staff

Rebecca (Shreffler) Babyak, BA


Rebecca completed her undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Music at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. She is currently the Clinical Research Coordinator for the PREFACE Study at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, where she is responsible for patient recruitment/enrollment, study visits and follow-up, data and sample collection as well as regulatory compliance.

Contact Rebecca at (615) 936-6204.


Rachel Francis, BS


Rachel graduated from the University of the South in Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience. From there, she went on to expand her clinical laboratory-based training in diagnostic testing of infectious disease. Joining the Holowatyj Lab in 2023 as a Laboratory Coordinator, Rachel is responsible for all biospecimen processing and PREFACE/GAP Study biorepository management as well as experimental conduct in patient-derived organoid lines. Rachel’s research interests include cancer biology, cell biology and human genetics; she is eager to contribute to new, clinically-impactful discoveries in the Holowatyj Lab at Vanderbilt.


Alexander Adams, BS

Adams Headshot


Alex graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and minors in Computer Science and Chemistry. After graduation, he pursued research at the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, where he applied computational techniques to study metabolic signaling in animal studies. From there, he became a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Massachusetts General Hospital before joining the Holowatyj Lab in 2023. Alex's research interests include computational -omics and cancer epidemiology. He is particularly fascinated by the intersection of medicine and computer science, and is excited to bring this experience to the PREFACE Study Team here at Vanderbilt.


Samantha Keller, BA


Sam recently graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Medicine, Health and Society (MHS) and a minor in Psychology. She joined our team in January 2021, and received a 2021 Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program Award supported by the Drs. Sidney and Becca Fleischer Undergraduate Summer Research Fund. Her research is focused on cancer survivorship among adolescents and young adults (AYAs). Sam’s professional interests include women’s health, psychology, oncology, nutrition and fitness. She also is thrilled to also get the opportunity to work on the GAP Study at Vanderbilt.


Lisa Long, BS


Lisa is the Senior Administrative Assistant for the Holowatyj Team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Lisa has been with Vanderbilt University since 2004, and has supported numerous cancer studies at the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center. She is excited to provide administrative support for the PREFACE Study.