What she's doing now: These days, Sieh is a newly appointed assistant professor of health research and policy and epidemiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, and is "off to a running start," according to her faculty mentor, Alice Whittemore, a Stanford professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.
Sieh focuses on the genetic epidemiology of ovarian and prostate cancers. Ovarian cancer, for instance, is rare, and isn't usually detected until the later stages. Several new screening technologies in the pipeline may help detect ovarian cancer in earlier—and potentially more treatable—stages, but "in order to validate these technologies and know that they work, we need to know who, from genetic components and environmental factors, is likely to be at an increased risk," Whittemore says. "Weiva is trying to do that."
With prostate cancer, epidemiologists face a different problem. Although the cancer is common, it often isn't fatal. The problem is identifying which men may develop more aggressive forms of the disease. Sieh's work looks at which genes might predict risk, progression, outcome and response to treatment in these and other cancers.
At this early stage in her career, Sieh is writing a lot of grant applications in addition to doing her research, which gives her a new appreciation of her Westinghouse mentor's generosity. "It's hard enough to find the time for college students or graduate students," she says. "It's extraordinary that she took time out to mentor a high school student."