Perla Chebli, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Project Title

Promoting Vaccine Acceptance in Immigrant Youths and Adults

Named Award

Awesome Games Done Quick


Assistant Professor


New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.

My “Why”

My first exposure to cancer happened within my family when I was very young. Later, my first job as clinical dietitian at the largest safety net hospital in Lebanon exposed me to the unnecessary human suffering from avoidable cancers. These experiences ignited a desire to advance cancer prevention and early detection, especially among Arab and Arab American populations.

My Mission

The cancer burden is not equal across all populations. Immigrant and minority populations are disproportionately affected. I am interested in cancer prevention and early detection interventions for these populations to ensure they have access to evidence-based strategies to reduce their cancer risk. I conduct my research in concert with community partners to ensure the priorities, preferences and assets of the communities are represented and are guiding the development and implementation of the intervention.

Research Overview

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It can lead to at least six types of cancers, including cervical and oral cancers.


HPV vaccination is an effective cancer prevention measure and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 initiative, a set of data-driven goals to improve health and well-being over the next decade. The 2030 goals include an HPV vaccination series target completion rate of 80% for adolescents ages 13-15. Yet, HPV vaccination is well below this objective—especially for immigrant and minority populations, which puts them at higher risk for HPV-related cancers.

The Pro-VAIYA (Promoting Vaccine Acceptance in Immigrant Youths and Adults) project is a collaboration with community partners from Arab and Mexican American communities. These two communities will produce and test a culturally and linguistically appropriate HPV vaccination campaign to increase vaccination rates. If successful, this campaign can be combined with provider-level interventions to maximize HPV vaccination in these communities and prevent HPV-related cancers.

This project aims to:

  • Co-create a culturally and linguistically relevant HPV vaccination communications campaign with community partners
  • Disseminate the campaign in community settings, schools and through social media
  • Increase knowledge and reduce negative attitudes on HPV vaccination
  • Train community members as HPV vaccine ambassadors
  • Evaluate the reach, acceptability and preliminary impact of the multi-component campaign

Why Funding Matters

The Prevent Cancer Foundation funding will allow me to conduct community-engaged research with Arab and Mexican American community partners and compensate them fairly for their expertise and indigenous knowledge. Through our partnership, we will co-develop, disseminate and evaluate linguistically and culturally tailored HPV vaccine communications campaigns.

My Hope

Preliminary data on the acceptability, reach and impact of the multi-component HPV vaccination campaign will serve as the foundation for future community-partnered research to scale up and replicate this approach with other immigrant communities.

My long-term goal is to implement and test a multi-level evidence-informed intervention combining the community and clinical settings to improve HPV vaccine uptake in immigrant communities across New York and prevent more HPV-related cancers.