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
Organization:
  • 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

David Buller, Ph.D.

Health Communication Scientist
Organization:
  • 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.”

Tanya Eadie, Ph.D.

Speech-Language Pathologist and Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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.”

Emily Falk, Ph.D.

Neuroscientist and Psychologist, focused on Health Behavior and Communication
Organization:
  • 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.”

Wonsun "Sunny" Kim

Health Communication and Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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.”

Xiaoli Nan, Ph.D.

Communication and Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • University of Maryland, College Park

My research suggests that people are both highly resistant and susceptible to persuasion. Science-informed persuasive strategies hold the key to developing cost-effective, ethical interventions for health behavior change”

Pallav Pokhrel

Behavioral Scientist/Health Behavior Researcher
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • University of Pittsburgh

As a teacher and a student of social sciences (and an English literature major in college), I realized 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
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

The rise of mobile technologies and third wave behavioral therapies are powerful inspirations for my work.”

Patrick Calhoun

Clinical Psychologist and Health Services Researcher
Organization:
  • Duke University

We often spend too much of our time developing the next best possible treatment without spending enough time thinking about how we are going to reach the people who need it most. Mobile health technologies are exciting because they provide a platform to increase the reach of intensive behavioral interventions, and have great potential to increase the impact of smoking cessation treatment.”

Nancy Fleischer

Social Epidemiologist
Organization:
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

As a Peace Corps Volunteer many years ago, I served in two vastly different countries: the Solomon Islands and Kazakhstan. By living in these two disparate places I became keenly aware of how place affects health - through culture, environmental conditions, and policies. I have carried these concepts with me into my research career, trying to understand ways that the social and policy environments affect health and health disparities.”

Marie Helweg-Larsen, Ph.D.

Social Psychologist
Organization:
  • Dickinson College

Since my undergraduate days I have been fascinated by how smokers negotiate their identity as smokers. How do people simultaneously see themselves as sensible, rational people yet continue to engage in a risky behavior such as smoking?”

Brian Hitsman, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • Northwestern University

Although adults with mental health disorders have the most to gain from quitting smoking, they still are the least likely to have their nicotine dependence treated. In order to achieve a major reduction in smoking rates and health disparities, much more work needs to be done to help individuals with mental illness to stop smoking.”

Caryn Lerman, Ph.D.

Psychologist
Organization:
  • University of Southern California

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.”

Ritesh Mistry, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist and Cancer Prevention Researcher
Organization:
  • University of Michigan

Being an immigrant, early on it seemed apparent to me that the country a person lives in and who they live with have profound impacts on their life. The mission of my career is to study how these contexts impact cancer risk behaviors.”

Cheryl Perry, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • 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

Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, Ph.D.

Neuroscientist
Organization:
  • Tel Aviv University

During the last two decades I have focused on the effects of perioperative stress and inflammatory responses, induced by having cancer and by undergoing surgery for its removal, on cancer progression.”

Elliot Berkman, Ph.D.

Translational Neuroscientist and Social Psychologist
Organization:
  • 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.”

Carolyn Fang, Ph.D., M.A.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • 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
Organization:
  • Northeastern University

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

Jada Hamilton, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

With my research, I hope to ultimately identify strategies that facilitate people's understanding and adaptive responses to genetic and genomic risk information, thereby helping people use this information to make effective decisions and successful behavioral changes that promote their well-being and reduce their vulnerability to cancer.”

Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • Medical University of South Carolina

I dedicated my career to addressing cancer health disparities through a transdisciplinary research program in minority health. The inequality that still exists in cancer outcomes continues to reinforce my dedication.”

Michael Irwin, M.D.

Psychiatric Clinical Translational Scientist
Organization:
  • 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.”

Peter James, Sc.D.

Environmental Epidemiologist
Organization:
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc.

I grew up in Washington, D.C., during the 1980s, and I witnessed the city undergo massive change, both in the physical makeup of the city and in the city's demographics. This sparked my interest in understanding how the places in which we live are shaped by us, but also how they shape us.”

Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • 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.

Psychologist
Organization:
  • University of Southern California

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
Organization:
  • 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.”

Jeanne Mandelblatt, M.D., M.P.H.

Geriatrician
Organization:
  • Georgetown University

I began my career as a family doctor working in neighborhood health centers in underserved communities. The turning point in my career from clinician to clinician researcher occurred on a job interview in an internal medicine department at a teaching hospital caring for a large population of older individuals.”

Herbert Mathews, Ph.D.

Cellular and Molecular Scientist
Organization:
  • 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.”

Timothy Rebbeck, Ph.D.

Molecular Epidemiologist
Organization:
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The explosion of genetic information into the lives of patients and populations requires that we find tools that will translate genomics to better patient experiences in decision-making, treatment, quality of life, and outcomes. To achieve this goal, we must nucleate interdisciplinary teams that include geneticists, population scientists, behavioral scientists, oncologists, and others to develop and implement comprehensive and impactful patient tools.”

Michael Sayette, Ph.D.

Behavioral Scientist
Organization:
  • University of Pittsburgh

Although quitting smoking is the most important action a smoker can take to prevent cancer, cessation has proven difficult. Observed relations between craving and relapse suggest that novel approaches to craving relief are sorely needed.”

David Spiegel, M.D.

Research Psychiatrist
Organization:
  • Stanford University - School of Medicine

In every rotation I did in medical school I was fascinated by how people coped with their illnesses, and challenged by how we could help them to do it better. But I wanted the interventions we developed to be based on evidence as well as theory.”

Health Behaviors Research Branch

Ana Abrantes, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist
Organization:
  • 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?"”

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D.

Translational Researcher and Nutrition Scientist
Organization:
  • 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

Heather Greenlee, N.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Translational Epidemiologist and Naturopathic Physician
Organization:
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

My passion is helping cancer survivors understand what they can do in addition to conventional treatment to improve their quality and length of life through diet, physical activity, weight management, and integrative therapies.”