National Cancer Institute

Selected Behavioral Research Investigators

Health Communications and Informatics (HCIRB)

  • Shari Barkin, M.D., M.S.H.S.
    Vanderbilt University Medical Center
    Physician Scientist and Child Behavioral Health Researcher

    "My "ah-ha" moment was recognizing that knowledge is necessary but not sufficient to change behavior. Behavior change requires setting new defaults that make achieving good health simpler."
  • Paul Duberstein, Ph.D.
    University of Rochester Medical Center
    Clinical and Community Psychologist

    "After receiving NCI funding for a caregiver study, I was unexpectedly thrust briefly into a caregiver role. My personal experiences taught me that I knew less than I thought about caregiving. It motivated me to work harder to incorporate first-hand experiences into my research by using qualitative methods and by adding patients and caregivers to my research teams."
  • Annice E. Kim, Ph.D.
    RTI International (formerly Research Triangle Institute)
    Social Scientist

    "The allure of big data has to be tempered by a healthy dose of skepticism about who and what these data represent."
  • Poorna Kushalnagar, Ph.D.
    Gallaudet University
    Health Disparity Research Scientist and Public Health Advocate for the Deaf Community

    "Simply comparing a minority group with the general population can obscure real differences within the minority population."
  • Amy McQueen, Ph.D.
    Washington University in St. Louis
    Social Psychologist and Behavioral Scientist

    "I am passionate about designing and testing more effective interventions for those who struggle to make health behavior changes and to make health a priority."
  • Lisa M. Miller, Ph.D.
    University of California - Davis
    Cognitive Psychologist and Behavioral Scientist

    "The most compelling thing I've observed is that prior knowledge engages adults of all ages in learning and eases the burden of acquiring new knowledge and skills, which has huge implications for how we promote the adoption of new, often effortful, health behaviors."
  • Gloria M. Petersen, Ph.D.
    Mayo Clinic
    Cancer Genetic Epidemiologist

    "A profound influence for me was seeing how cancer gene discoveries translated quickly to genetic testing, with consequences for patients and families."
  • Megha Ramaswamy, Ph.D., M.P.H.
    University of Kansas School of Medicine
    Sociologist and Applied Public Health Researcher

    "Looking back, it was my early curiosity about inequality (kindled by a childhood in the Deep South and bedtime discussions with my dad about racism and politics) that ultimately motivated me as an adult to tackle the health disparities that affect marginalized women and men."
  • Urmimala Sarkar, M.D., M.P.H.
    University of California - San Francisco
    Primary Care Physician and Health Services Researcher

    "I've learned from my primary care patients that I have to understand their social context to be able to partner with them to achieve healthy behaviors. You can't improve anyone's health in a vacuum."
  • Anthony J. Viera, M.D., M.P.H.
    University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
    Family Physician, Public Health Advocate, and Researcher

    "Several years ago, in an MD-MPH class on prevention strategies, I explained to my students that I didn't think calorie labeling worked. I said to the class (somewhat jokingly at the time!), "They should show how far you have to walk to burn off the calories...""

Tobacco Control (TCRB)

  • Jonathan B. Bricker, Ph.D.
    Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
    Behavioral Scientist and Health Behavior Change Researcher

    "The rise of mobile technologies and third wave behavioral therapies are powerful inspirations for my work."
  • Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.
    University of Pennsylvania

    "I am passionate about transdisciplinary research to enhance our understanding about how the brain supports or constrains changes in habitual behaviors that contribute to cancer risk."
  • Cheryl L. Perry, Ph.D.
    University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    Behavioral Scientist

    "When I was working as the Senior Scientific Editor of the first Surgeon General's Report on "Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People (1994)," the ongoing and pervasive inter-relationships between health behaviors, their epidemiology and health effects; their social, political and economic determinants; and the predominance of powerful companies that directly support unhealthy behaviors, became evident and have guided the projects and science that I've done since that time. "
  • Irina Stepanov, Ph.D.
    University of Minnesota
    Analytical Biochemist and Cancer Researcher

    "I have been very fortunate to be mentored by and collaborate with the prominent leaders in tobacco carcinogenesis research. Their example and guidance, along with my personal motivation to contribute to the prevention of suffering caused by cancer, shaped my research interests and direction."

    View Grant Applications

Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences (BBPSB)

  • Elliot T. Berkman, Ph.D.
    University of Oregon
    Translational Neuroscientist and Social Psychologist

    "Behavior change can be hard because we lack the skills or knowledge to do so, but more often the problem is motivational. Science needs to discover ways to help people who want to want to change but, for whatever reason, struggle to will themselves to change."
  • Emily Falk, Ph.D.
    University of Pennsylvania
    Neuroscientist and Psychologist, focused on Health Behavior and Communication

    "People's brains sometimes know them better than they know themselves. Looking into the brain can help us understand what makes people change their behaviors. Likewise, linking neuroscience studies with field methods is critical to understanding how the brain works in the real world, outside of the lab."
  • Carolyn Y. Fang, Ph.D., M.A.
    Fox Chase Cancer Center
    Behavioral Scientist

    "I appreciate the opportunity to work with investigators from diverse disciplines, as well as with community members and patient advocates, because they inspire me to learn new concepts and broaden my thinking in novel ways, as we all work toward a common and united goal to reduce the burden of cancer."
  • Lisa Feldman Barrett, Ph.D.
    Northeastern University
    Psychologist and Interdisciplinary Affective Scientist

    "The mind is an elegantly orchestrated self-fulfilling prophecy, embodied within the architecture of the nervous system."
  • Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.
    University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
    Psychologist and Affective Scientist

    "When people experience positive affect while being physically active, they unwittingly trigger a chain of nonconscious and biological processes that can ultimately transform physical activity from a chore into a lifelong passion."
  • Michael R. Irwin, M.D.
    University of California - Los Angeles
    Psychiatric Clinical Translational Scientist

    "The Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA has discovered that sleep and health are intimately inter-connected: insomnia induces adverse trajectories of disease risk, activates inflammatory biology, and accelerates cellular aging. In turn, interventional strategies from behavioral to mind-body treatments effectively target sleep problems and reverse the course of biological mechanisms of disease risk, aging, and possibly cancer, which together optimize healthspan."
  • Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.
    Ohio State University
    Behavioral Scientist

    "Stress impacts many aspects of our physiology. Close and supportive personal relationships can buffer the effects of stress and can be an important resource during difficult times in our lives."
  • Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.
    University of Pennsylvania

    "I am passionate about transdisciplinary research to enhance our understanding about how the brain supports or constrains changes in habitual behaviors that contribute to cancer risk."
  • Susan K. Lutgendorf, Ph.D.
    University of Iowa
    Behavioral Scientist

    "The resilience of the human spirit is remarkable-we are now studying how we can help patients cope more effectively in the face of ovarian cancer."
  • Herbert Mathews, Ph.D.
    Loyola University Chicago
    Cellular and Molecular Scientist

    "Understanding the pattern of chromatin organization associated with psychosocial distress may provide a means by which to identify those at risk for immune dysfunction."
  • Anil K. Sood, M.D.
    MD Anderson Cancer Center
    Physician Scientist

    "For me the opportunity to collaborate with renowned colleagues has provided many exciting research moments."

Health Behaviors (HBRB)

  • Ana M. Abrantes, Ph.D.
    Butler Hospital/Alpert Medical School of Brown University
    Clinical Psychologist

    "An important "ah-ha" moment came when discussing a colleague's work involving the pairing of brain stimulation with exposure-based behavioral treatment (an oft avoided therapy) to enhance adherence and improve outcomes among individuals with OCD. I thought, "Why couldn't the same approach be applied to vulnerable individuals who avoid or don't enjoy physical activity?""
  • Barbara B. Brown, Ph.D.
    University of Utah
    Environmental Psychologist

    "I love finding community interventions that support both personal health and environmental health in a "stealthy" way-without requiring that people be committed to healthy behaviors or to environmentalism."
  • David Buller, Ph.D.
    Klein Buendel, Inc.
    Health Communication Scientist

    "The "ah-ha" moment that I repeatedly experience is the importance of interpersonal relations in determining health behavior. Direct personal contacts with change agents, opinion leaders, and peers have been an essential aspect of my successful cancer prevention interventions and, more recently, relationships within organizational contexts, especially as influenced by policy, have emerged as influential for improving individuals' prevention practices."
  • Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D.
    University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Translational Researcher and Nutrition Scientist

    "There are so many opportunities to discover new ways to prevent and control cancer and "ah-ha" moments are daily occurrences that spring from working in the laboratory, the clinic and the community. Being open and preparing oneself to actively receive or generate those ideas is the first step; however, finding the time, energy and most of all the resources to pursue a fraction of those ideas is the key and one that requires dogged determination."

    View Grant Applications

  • Jacqueline Kerr, Ph.D.
    University of California - San Diego
    Exposome Scientist

    "My ah-ha moment came when I realized all the errors in our data processing that I focused on obsessively were only creating a couple of minutes of error a day at the personal level. I realized I needed to get out of this rabbit hole and look around at the majority of successful predictions we were creating. I have now accepted that perfection in such behavioral & environmental matches are not possible, and I focus on the larger probabilities that time and space may influence behavior."
  • Nora L. Nock, Ph.D.
    Case Western Reserve University
    Transdisciplinary Researcher

    "The "ah-ha" moment that influenced my program of research the most was discovering that the ultimate underlying barrier to exercise is truly the lack of enjoyment from exercise and that a pivotal step in intrinsic behavior change will be to find ways to help patients experience pleasure from exercise."