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  • Writer's pictureLeila Okahata

On the Cancer Research Frontier: Jina Taub, Nurse Practitioner


Photo Credits: Kiran Dhillon


On the Cancer Research Frontier is a series spotlighting the scientists, doctors, nurses, patients, and philanthropists at the Cancer Vaccine Institute. Join us in meeting the brilliant minds behind our cancer vaccines and immunotherapies as they share their professional journeys and personal stories.


“A cancer diagnosis changes everything in your life,” says Jina Taub. “It's difficult to walk down that path, face the unknown, and consider joining a clinical trial. But when I hear patients say ‘I’m here today because of this clinical study, and now I want to help others find new and improved treatments’ — that’s what motivates me to get up every morning.”


Jina Taub is our latest team member at the Cancer Vaccine Institute. As a Nurse Practitioner, she works with our clinical coordinators and principal investigators to administer our clinical trials, including screening for eligible patients and monitoring those enrolled. She is the first ‘advanced practice provider’ at the CVI. 


“I'm able to be that extra conduit for managing and supporting people throughout a study,” Taub said. “It’s been a huge learning curve, especially trying to learn all the different solid tumors. So I’ve dedicated my summer to studying, which I know sounds not super exciting, but it’s fun. I love learning.”


Working at the CVI has been Taub’s “ultimate dream job” that combines her academic and professional backgrounds in immunology and oncology. Born and raised in Edmonds, Washington, the University of Washington alumnus has previously worked at the UW Medical Center as a nurse practitioner specializing in infectious diseases. She also was a clinical nurse at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, now Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, for prostate, testicular, and bladder cancers. 


Taub first heard of the CVI when attending the 2023 Institute of Translational Health Sciences Expo where Dr. Nora Disis, CVI Founder and Director, presented her work on cancer vaccines. Taub was dazzled hearing how vaccines could be used beyond preventing infectious diseases and towards eliminating cancers.


“It's amazing how much people have learned about our immune systems and how to harness it,” she said. “I remember learning about early cancer treatments, like radium therapy, and some of the terrible side effects. Now it’s hard to believe we used to do that. With the creation of cancer vaccines, I really think someday we're also going to look back at present treatments like chemotherapy and think how barbaric it was.”


Jina Taub has traveled to Sri Lanka, India, and Istanbul. Photo Courtesy: Jina Taub


Nursing wasn’t always Taub’s first choice. When she enrolled in UW as an undergraduate, her mother encouraged her to follow in her footsteps as a nurse. Taub hesitated and instead found herself majoring in zoology. After graduating, she became an English teacher in Japan and later pursued a graduate degree in public health in New Orleans. It wasn’t until Taub reconnected with a close friend, who pursued the same public health degree, did she reconsider her career trajectory. As a nurse with Doctors Without Borders, Taub’s friend spotlighted the unique role that nursing plays in helping counteract inequities in the world and here at home. Something twinkled within her.


Returning to her home state and back to school, Taub pivoted to nursing and quickly realized how good of a fit it was. “I guess Mom's advice is always right,” she chuckled.


“I learned I love working with people,” Taub said. “Being able to have visits and help someone during sometimes their most difficult experiences and create a space for them, that’s always special.” 


Her favorite hobby is also driven by people she meets along the way: traveling. Having stayed in Turkey and Russia and hoping to visit Georgia soon, Taub saves up vacation time to usually travel solo. Being by herself makes it the easiest to meet new people and go off the beaten path, she said.


“So I spend a lot of time getting lost,” Taub joked. “But I always learn something new and come back home with more knowledge. It helps make the world feel a little bit smaller.”


Jina Taub in Turkey and Uzbekistan. Photo Courtesy: Jina Taub


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