Melissa H. Rittase, MPH

Scientist, Study Management Team

what keeps me inspired

“As an epidemiologist working in data management, it could be easy for me to only focus on the numbers – but the soul of our work is the people.

I’m inspired by the Cancer Prevention Study volunteers who were each motivated to participate because of their own powerful stories and personal connections to cancer. Each of the hundreds of thousands of surveys that we process, every datapoint on a chart, and all the analyses that we conduct, are only possible because of these generous participants who donate their time and information.

I am so grateful for the commitment of our cohort participants over the decades and all they have done and continue to do to support cancer prevention and survivorship research.”

At ACS since 2013

Melissa Rittase works on all aspects of participant data for the American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer Prevention Study cohorts CPS-II and CPS-3, including recruitment, participant communication, data collection and cleaning, and analysis.

Rittase supports the selection and design of questions for CPS-3 triennial surveys, sub-studies, and the online participant portal. In addition, she processes incoming survey data in preparation for data analysis and conducts analyses related to data quality within CPS-3. 

With the aim of modernizing the CPS-3 cohort, Rittase is leading the effort to develop and implement the new web-based participant portal. She also develops strategies for participant retention and engagement.

Research focus and accomplishments

I joined the ACS Epidemiology Research program in 2012 when CPS-3 enrollment was in full swing. Fresh out of graduate school, I was able to quickly understand the cohort and data management by processing data for up to 10,000 participants a month, helping to successfully complete enrollment of over 300,000 participants.

Over time, I realized that rather than continuing to rely on traditional paper and pencil methods, we could conduct more innovative, impactful research by modernizing CPS-3 cohort communication. I helped enhance the triennial online survey and collaborated on the development of online-data  collection efforts and participant engagement strategies.

To strengthen communication with participants and provide useful and interesting information back to them, I organized the launch of a quarterly e-newsletter, wrote content, designed the layout, and managed the distribution process.

Now I’m leading the effort to develop and implement the new web-based CPS-3 Participant Portal that supports ACS researchers’ novel research by collecting more timely information that is easier for participants to provide, and that's managed in a more streamlined way.

Publications

For a full list of Rittase's publications, visit her Google Scholar page.  

Contact 


Education

  • MPH: Epidemiology, Drexel University, School of Public Health, 2012
  • BS: Biology, Bucknell University, 2010

Personal life 

I enjoy eating and making delicious food, watching my daughters grow and experience new things, staying up to date on all the latest shows with my husband, and making sure there is always an open spot on the couch for our labradoodle, Willow.