Grantee: Wendy Demark-Wahnefried
Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
Professor and Webb Endowed Chair of Nutrition Sciences, American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor
O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
Describe your scientific identity.
I am a nutrition scientist who is keenly interested in the impact of lifestyle interventions on preventing and controlling cancer. A major focus of my work has been in the area of cancer survivorship, where I hope to make inroads in the tertiary prevention of cancer, as well as to increase both the quality and quantity of life among cancer survivors.
What are your research interests?
My interests are translational and range from studying the impact of dietary modifications directly on the tumor to studying the impact of dietary interventions on the overall health of the cancer patient, and how best to motivate and disseminate behavior change interventions.
What is the significance of your current research project?
I lead two significant research projects. One, "Harvest for Health," is testing the impact of a vegetable gardening intervention among older cancer survivors across Alabama. The cancer survivors who are participating in this project derive tremendous enjoyment from the intervention, and the outcomes that we anticipate are improvements in diet, physical activity, and physical functioning. Our most recent project is "AMPLIFI: Adapting MultiPLe behavior Interventions that eFfectively Improve (AMPLIFI) Cancer Survivor Health" - a Program Project that involves a cadre of experts in physical activity, nutrition, eHealth, health economics, mixed methods, biostatistics, and dissemination and implementation (D&I) research. Here, we will adapt two previously efficacious lifestyle interventions to a web-based platform so that the intervention can be disseminated more broadly. Both projects are significant since they are aimed at improving the health of high-need cancer survivors for whom little resources currently exist and are hard to reach.
What motivated you to work in health behaviors research?
Early in my career, I had a terrific mentor, Dr. Barbara Rimer, who piqued my interest in health behavior research as a scientific pursuit. However, I am motivated daily by the participants in our studies who continually teach me new things and who provide inspiration.
Describe something that had a profound influence on your program of research or scientific interests (an "ah-ha!" moment).
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.
Selected training, awards, and honors:
- NCI K07 Preventive Oncology Academic Award (1994-2000)
- Best Poster Award, American Society of Preventive Oncology (1999)
- Idea Award, NCI, ACS, CDC & Cooper Institute (2000)
- Susan G. Komen Professor of Cancer Survivorship (2003)
- Excellence in Practice Award: American Dietetic Association - Nutrition in Complementary Care Dietetic Practice Group (2004)
- Ross Award in Women's Health, American Dietetic Association Foundation (2006)
- Charles Barkley Award for Excellence in Mentorship, Minority Health Research Center, UAB (2011, 2018)
- Distinguished Practice Award, Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2013)
- President of the American Society of Preventive Oncology (2013-2015)
- "Master" Honoree in Cancer Survivorship, University of Wageningen, Netherlands (2014)
- Technische Universität München Institute for Advanced Study - Appointment as TUM-IAS Visiting Fellow (2014)
- American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award (2014-2019)
- UAB School of Health Professions Award for Excellence in Scholarship (2015)
- UAB School of Health Professions Award for Excellence in Service (2016)
- UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Albert F. LoBuglio Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Research Mission of the Cancer Center (2016)
- Distinguished Alumni, Syracuse University (2017)
- Mary P. Huddleson Award, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics award for Exceptional paper (2019)
I am motivated daily by the participants in our studies who continually teach me new things and who provide inspiration.”
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