Skip to Content
NCI Formulary
Contact NExT
Show menu
Search this site
Last Updated: 12/17/18


Office of the Director

Jeffrey D. White, M.D.

Picture of Dr. White

Dr. White joined the Metabolism Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1990 as a Medical Staff Fellow where he performed laboratory research in immunology and molecular biology. While in the Metabolism Branch, he served in various positions culminating as director of the Clinical Trials and Clinical Care Program. In that capacity, he coordinated the development and administration of phase I and II clinical trials using unmodified and radiolabeled monoclonal antibody constructs. Dr. White has been principal investigator for and has reported the results from trials of various experimental treatments for patients with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL).

From 1995 to 1998, Dr. White also served as an oncology consultant to the director of the NIH’s Office of Alternative Medicine. In October 1998, the Deputy Director of Extramural Science of NCI, Dr. Robert Wittes, chose him to serve as director of a new office in the NCI titled the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). The office was created to augment the activities of the different divisions at NCI that were already supporting CAM research. OCCAM continues to promote and support research and generation of good quality information on the various disciplines and modalities associated with the field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as they relate to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer.

Dr. White is a board certified medical oncologist and a cancer researcher. Dr. White graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Applied and Engineering Physics in 1979 and received an M.D. from Howard University in 1984. He completed a residency in internal medicine in 1987 and fellowships in oncology and hematology in 1990 at The Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.

Christina I. Armstrong
Office Manager/Program Specialist

Picture of Christina Armstrong

Ms. Armstrong serves as office manager and program specialist to OCCAM’s director. Her position includes managing office budgets, contracts, travel and guest arrangements; planning and scheduling for the director; and overseeing full-time and contract staff. She works closely with the OCCAM director and staff, communicating federal policies and ensuring efficient operation of the office. She’s also manage responsibilities for OCCAM’s Communications Coordinator position which includes producing OCCAM's news information and other publications; overseeing the conference and exhibit program; and managing the OCCAM Web site.

Ms. Armstrong has over twenty three years of federal service. She began her career as an administrative secretary for the Office of the Secretary, Office of Minority Heath in 1991 and joined the National Cancer Institute in 2000. Ms. Armstrong is currently attending Ashford University; she’s working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. She also has a certification in business and computer technology from Global Technology Business School; and holds numerous certifications in federal applications.

Nekesha Rowlett-Thomas
Meeting Coordinator

Picture of Nekesha Rowlett-Thomas

Ms. Rowlett-Thomas serves as the Office Assistant in the OCCAM Office of the Director. In this role, she is responsible for supporting the OCCAM Office Manager in the following duties: calendar maintenance, preparation of correspondence, technical presentations, coordination of travel arrangements, facilitation of meeting arrangements, and processing of administrative items.

Previous to joining OCCAM, Ms. Rowlett-Thomas worked over 10 years in the Banking Industry. She is a commissioned Maryland Notary Public since 2010 and has strong interpersonal skills, high levels of customer service and is very detailed oriented.

Libin Jia, M.D.
Health Scientist Administrator

Picture of Dr. Jia

Dr. Jia joined OCCAM in 2005 as a health scientist administrator. In this position, he helps establish research collaborations, most recently in the area of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and serves as a liaison between the collaborative parties and OCCAM. He also manages CAM supplements provided by OCCAM to NCI Cancer Centers and Community Clinical Oncology Programs.

Previously, Dr. Jia was a scientific project director in the NCI Office of Cancer Genomics and participated in the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, Mammalian Gene Collection, and the H-Invitational, which is an international human genome annotation project. He also joined the project officer team for the Molecular Library Screening Centers Networks of the NIH Road Map in 2006, managing the compounds screening projects.

Dr. Jia graduated from Shanghai Medical University II with his M.D. in 1988 and did his post doctoral study at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Avraham Rasooly, Ph.D
Health Scientist Administrator

Picture of Dr. Avraham Rasooly

Dr. Avraham Rasooly joined the OCCAM office in 2014 as a health scientist administrator and is leading a trans-NCI initiative to develop low cost cancer technologies for global health. Before joining OCCAM, Dr. Rasooly served as Chief of the Disparities Research Branch and as Program Officer at the NCI Cancer Diagnosis Program where he supported research on biosensors, lab-on-chip, Circulating Tumor Cells and Point of Care (POC) cancer diagnostics technologies. In addition to his work at NCI, he directs a lab at the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, where he develops various biosensor and lab on chip technologies for POC microbial analysis and food safety.

Dr. Rasooly received his Ph.D from Michigan State University studying the genetics of plant-microbial interactions. He served as Senior Research Scientist and as Research Assistant Professor at the Skirball Institute NYU Medical Center in New York conducting research on DNA replication.

Ameenat A. Akeeb
Cancer Training Research Award

Picture of Ameenat Akeeb

Ms. Akeeb is the OCCAM office's Cancer Research Training Award recipient, serving as a fellow under the mentorship of Dr. White. Under his tutelage, Ms. Akeeb participates in contributing to ongoing research projects and initiatives regarding the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine as it relates to the treatment of cancer and/or cancer-related symptoms. She has a strong interest in biomedical research, particularly, as it pertains to the role of natural products, nutrition and pharmacognosy in healthcare.

Ms. Akeeb graduated from Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. She went on to attend Georgetown University, where she obtained a M.S. in Pharmacology with a concentration in Natural Medicinal Products. Ultimately, Ms. Akeeb plans to attend medical school, with the overarching career goal of becoming a physician-scientist that seamlessly blends complementary and alternative therapeutic approaches with standard treatments when addressing and preventing diseases.

Research Development and Support Program

Dan Xi, Ph.D.
Program Director

Picture of Dr. Xi

Dr. Xi joined OCCAM in 2005. As program director for the Research Development and Support Program, she is responsible for overseeing and managing a portfolio of research grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts related to cancer CAM. She also conducts the NCI CAM research portfolio analysis for NCI’s Annual Report on CAM.

Dr. Xi received her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology & Pathobiology from the Medical University of South Carolina. Since then, she has been working in the fields of neuroscience and cancer at the National Institutes of Health. She has extensive research experience in high throughput technologies (e.g. microarray technology and bioinformatics), pharmacology/toxicology, as well as cellular and molecular biology.

Case Review and Intramural Science Program

Oluwadamilola Olaku, M.D., M.P.H., MRCOG
Case Review and Intramural Science Program Coordinator, Contractor

Picture of Dr. Olaku

Dr. Olaku is a Scientific Program Analyst at OCCAM. He is responsible for soliciting and reviewing cases submitted to the NCI Best Case Series Program. He is involved in writing protocols and developing survey questionnaires. He is a co-investigator on two protocols. Dr. Olaku plays a significant role in organizing conferences and workshops at OCCAM. In addition, he develops collaborations within and outside the NCI. Prior to his current role, Dr. Olaku provided technical assistance to grant applicants, and performed portfolio analyses. He coordinated the OCCAM Monthly Lecture Series and journal club.

Prior to joining OCCAM, Dr. Olaku was a Ruth Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award recipient (NRSA). He completed a post-doctoral clinical research fellowship in Complementary and Alternative medicine at Morgan State University and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Prior to his post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Olaku was a practicing Obstetrician and Gynecologist at several University Hospitals in the United Kingdom. He has co-authored several publications and participated in peer review of manuscripts. Dr. Olaku earned an MD from the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria and MPH from Morgan State University, Baltimore. In addition, Dr. Olaku earned a law degree at Middlesex University, London. He is a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, United Kingdom. He is certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

Farah Zia, M.D.
Case Review and Intramural Science Program Director

Picture of Dr. Zia

Dr. Zia joined OCCAM in September 2007 as the director of the Case Review and Intramural Science Program. Using her expertise in medical oncology, she evaluates cases submitted to the NCI Best Case Series Protocol and explores promising treatments for potential clinical studies in NCI’s intramural program. She is also a member of the Clinical Center Medical Staff at the Center for Cancer Research, Medical Oncology Branch, seeing patients in the early drug development clinic.
Dr. Zia is a hematologist/oncologist who received her M.D. from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1997. She subsequently completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at the George Washington University Hospital in 2000. Dr. Zia then completed a subspecialty training fellowship in hematology/oncology through NCI and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. As a fellow, she developed a special interest in the treatment of breast cancer and was protocol chairperson and associate investigator on several breast cancer trials at NCI.