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Linda Vona-Davis, Ph.D.

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Graduate School, Degree(s):
M.S. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Ph.D. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Postdoctoral Fellowship(s): West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

Faculty Rank:Associate Professor

Special Clinical/Research Interests: Dr. Davis has 20+ years of experience in molecular cell and tumor biology. Her primary basic and clinical interests are in obesity and its connection to breast cancer risk and recurrence. The focus of her research is to understand how diet-induced obesity and adipose-derived factors promote tumor/stroma interactions that promote aggressive breast tumor growth and metastasis. Dr. Davis and her research group have identified leptin, the most abundant hormone found in adipose tissue, as a potent adipokine that stimulates tumor growth, migration and invasion in both breast and prostate cancers. She has extensive experience with 3-D ultrasound imaging of tumor progression using transgenic mice. Dr. Davis has clinical interests in obesity and the inflammatory factors that impact breast cancer survival, particularly when modified by diet and physical activity.

Is there a particular population of students (e.g., ethnicity, spiritual, sexual orientation) that you would particularly like to advise?


What does a typical day in the life of an academic include?

Typical Day recently on October 23, 2012


  • Prepare lectures for the week: (powerpoint slides, paper discussion, etc.)
  • Reviewing and scoring Trauma grants for Surgery.
  • Meet with 3 undergraduate students in the lab to discuss progress on research projects.
  • Meet with staff at the Imaging Facility at 10am
  • Call a company to inquire about a product for measuring cytokines in the blood.


  • Cancer Cell Biology faculty meeting at Noon: 1 hr
  • Work on WV-CTSI internal grant submission
  • Cancer Cell Biology Program Lecture 2:00-3:30pm
  • Work on NIH/NCI R21 grant and Letter of Intent due Nov 4.
  • Surgery faculty meeting at 5pm: 1 hr.
  • Dinner with Seminar Speaker at 6pm. 

Briefly describe your teaching philosophy.

As an educator, I believe that to be most effective, one must create a safe environment that is interactive and collaborative. It must also promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills. By giving students an opportunity to participate in class, not only do the students benefit from cooperative learning by enriching the course material with personal experiences and knowledge, but also they also take responsibility for their own learning and, therefore, enhance the integration of their new knowledge into practice. Promoting independent thinking is essential so that students can take what they have learned and extend it to any health-related profession.

My emphasis in teaching is on learning. My teaching goal is to facilitate learning (helping students learn) and therefore I teach using many modalities of assessment so that all learning styles are accommodated. Learning is primarily the student's responsibility, whereas teaching is my responsibility. They understand the importance of the relationship of teacher/student, therefore, I take them seriously and I expect them to reciprocate by meeting my expectations.

I follow some very simple everyday principals: being enthusiastic for each class and interested in them as students; understanding their needs as aspiring professional students; organizing each class so that I address the importance of health and disease; using case-based examples to stress how the concepts relate to disease. I make my presentations engaging, without too much distraction.

I believe that effective teaching is comprised of two necessary ingredients: a good knowledge base and the ability to communicate it. Knowing the material is paramount to be effective in teaching it. Communication is the key to teaching it. I communicate by using humor with a blend of MTV to make learning fun and enjoyable.

Do you have any summer opportunities for students in your laboratory?


What advice would you give to a student starting medical school?

Study often in spurts; eat and sleep the same time each day; team up with other students and share experiences.

What kinds of help and information can you offer to medical students during their pre-clinical years?

Explain to medical students how they can fit clinical and translational research into their busy schedules.