MPH Alumna Dr. Manushak Avagyan Published Master’s Thesis in BMC Cancer

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YEREVAN, Armenia — Following a rigorous and transparent peer-review process, American University of Armenia (AUA) Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS) alumna Dr. Manushak Avagyan, MD, (MPH ‘20) has published her Master of Public Health thesis in the journal BMC Cancer, a high-impact open-access, peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles on all aspects of cancer research. The co-authors of the article are Dr. Avagyan’s academic advisors Drs. Anahit Demirchyan MD, MPH ‘99) and Lusine Abrahamyan, MD, (MPH ‘03, PhD.

The study identifies risk factors of childhood cancer in Armenia. The research enrolled participants from the only specialized pediatric hematology and oncology center in Armenia, the Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, in the case-control study design. Overall, 234 participants — 117 cases with malignant diseases and 117 controls with non-malignant diseases — were enrolled in the study. The fitted logistic regression model suggested that maternal use of folic acid during pregnancy had a potential protective effect against childhood cancer, while experiencing highly stressful events during pregnancy and having induced abortions before getting pregnant with the given child were associated with higher odds for a child to be diagnosed with cancer. The study contributes to closing the gap in the literature on the risk factors for childhood cancer, particularly in countries with small populations and low resources. The findings should be considered with caution, as further validation from larger-scale studies is advisable.

The study was partially presented at the 53rd congress of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology in 2021. Dr. Avagyan is completing her two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France and plans to continue her career in clinical research for cancer immunotherapy. This publication is another important step in her career as a promising healthcare researcher.

The full article — Avagyan, M., Demirchyan, A. & Abrahamyan, L. Risk factors of childhood cancer in Armenia: a case-control study. BMC Cancer 23, 81 (2023). — is available at

The AUA Turpanjian College of Health Sciences works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of health professionals to be leaders in public health, nursing, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.