Featured Grantees

The researchers highlighted below have been awarded at least one Behavioral Research Program-funded NIH grant. Read on to learn about their experiences as grantees.

Note: The views expressed here are those of the grantees only and do not represent any official position of the National Cancer Institute.

Office of the Associate Director

Hui Xie

Biostatistician and Data Scientist
  • University of Illinois at Chicago

I am fascinated by the capabilities of new real-time data-capturing methods to improve behavioral research. I am excited to be developing appropriate analytic techniques and computational tools for use with these new kinds of data and emerging research approaches.”

Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch

Tanya Eadie, Ph.D.

Speech-Language Pathologist and Behavioral Scientist
  • University of Washington

Disruptions to one's voice and speech transcend voice quality or understandability; they impact the ability of individuals to participate in a variety of life roles and responsibilities, to form relationships, and ultimately how they identify themselves as unique human beings.”

Susan Eggly

Communication Scientist and Health Behavior Researcher
  • Wayne State University

I have always been passionate about better understanding how interpersonal communication, especially between people from different social groups, affects how people think and behave. This passion drives my work to better understand and improve patient-physician communication and healthcare in the context of racial disparities and cancer treatment.”

Wonsun "Sunny" Kim

Health Communication and Behavioral Scientist
  • Arizona State University - College of Nursing and Health Innovation

Cancer patients' and caregivers' personal stories are powerful inspirations for my work.”

Alex Krist, M.D., M.P.H.

Family Physician and Primary Care Researcher
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

We are so much more than the sum of our parts. Health needs to be placed in the context of whole person care, including benefits and harms, values and preference, and family and social context.”

Todd Lucas, Ph.D.

Health Psychology Researcher
  • Michigan State University

Southeast Michigan has been the setting of my scholarly training as well as my career , and this context has greatly informed my sensitivity to the importance of justice for individuals and communities, and my appreciation for the potential that justice holds as a psychological solution to health and social problems.”

Darren Mays, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Behavioral Cancer Prevention Researcher
  • Georgetown University

My background as a public health scientist has inspired me to conduct research that is aimed for population-level impact by focusing on developing effective cancer prevention communication messaging. Some of the most common risk behaviors that are linked with cancer, like tobacco use, sun exposure, and indoor tanning, tend to develop at an early age but are highly preventable. I study how to promote cancer preventive behaviors by designing communication messages that resonate with young people and motivate healthy choices.”

Pallav Pokhrel

Behavioral Scientist/Health Behavior Researcher
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa

The advent of e-cigarettes has marked an epoch in the history of smoking-their impact on public health needs to be studied and studied clear-headedly.”

Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D.

Physician, Professor, Researcher
  • University of Pittsburgh

As a teacher and a student of social sciences (and an English literature major in college), I realize how important things like communication and interpretation are in all areas of human interaction and behavior. Then, when I became a physician, I realized how powerful these tools could be for prevention and treatment of disease.”

Megha Ramaswamy, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Sociologist and Applied Public Health Researcher
  • University of Kansas School of Medicine

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.”

Kuang-Yi Wen, Ph.D.

Health Systems Engineer
  • Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Quitting smoking is not an easy process, and it is even more challenging and stressful for the target population we work with, who are usually ethnic-minority single moms with financial hardship.”

Tobacco Control Research Branch

Jonathan Bricker, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist and Health Behavior Change Researcher
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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 Perry, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

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.

Analytical Biochemist and Cancer Researcher
  • University of Minnesota

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 sample grant application

Kathryn Taylor, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
  • Georgetown University Medical Center - Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

As a behavioral scientist in the field of cancer prevention and control, it is very exciting to have the opportunity to test cessation interventions in a setting with the potential to reach thousands of older adults who have struggled with smoking their entire lives.”

Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch

Elliot Berkman, Ph.D.

Translational Neuroscientist and Social Psychologist
  • University of Oregon

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.

Neuroscientist and Psychologist, focused on Health Behavior and Communication
  • University of Pennsylvania

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 Fang, Ph.D., M.A.

Behavioral Scientist
  • Fox Chase Cancer Center

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.

Psychologist and Interdisciplinary Affective Scientist
  • Northeastern University

The mind is an elegantly orchestrated self-fulfilling prophecy, embodied within the architecture of the nervous system.”

Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

Psychologist and Affective Scientist
  • University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

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 Irwin, M.D.

Psychiatric Clinical Translational Scientist
  • University of California - Los Angeles

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 Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
  • Ohio State University

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 Lutgendorf, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
  • University of Iowa

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.

Cellular and Molecular Scientist
  • Loyola University Chicago

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 Sood, M.D.

Physician Scientist
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center

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

Health Behaviors Research Branch

Ana Abrantes, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist
  • Butler Hospital/Alpert Medical School of Brown University

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 Brown, Ph.D.

Environmental Psychologist
  • University of Utah

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.

Health Communication Scientist
  • Klein Buendel, Inc.

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.

Translational Researcher and Nutrition Scientist
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham

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 sample grant application

Jacqueline Kerr, Ph.D.

Exposome Scientist
  • University of California - San Diego

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 Nock, Ph.D.

Transdisciplinary Researcher
  • Case Western Reserve University

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.”