Grantee: Jacqueline Kerr

Jacqueline Kerr

Jacqueline Kerr, Ph.D.

Exposome Scientist
  • University of California - San Diego

Jacqueline Kerr, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. She also directs the Research in Environments, Active aging and Community Health (REACH) groups, and she's the Cancer Prevention Program Lead in the Moores Cancer Center.

Dr Kerr's research focuses on changing health behaviors with a special emphasis on cancer prevention and control by understanding how environments influence cancer risk factors, especially physical activity. She currently has grants on increasing physical activity in older adults in senior centers and reducing sitting time in post-menopausal Latinas. Interventions are her passion, particularly the work in senior centers where she trains older adults to become program leaders and community advocates. However, Dr. Kerr also understands the need for accurate measurement of behaviors and environments. This has led her to develop new computational techniques for the processing of GPS and accelerometer data. These new techniques, especially when used for older adults, help to shed light on when and where behavioral changes take place as well as the environmental predictors of such events. She is working with the Mobile Data to Knowledge initiative to develop "just-in-time" interventions that draw on spatial, temporal, and behavioral data. Her dream project would be to develop a multilevel mobile and online platform connected to cities to encourage walking and walkability as called for by the Surgeon General.

Dr. Kerr's National Cancer Institute Provocative Questions grant is trying to accurately assess how environments are related to cancer risk. This includes data on the built environment, behaviors, clinical biomarkers of cancer risk, and the gut microbiome. Understanding how all of these systems interact is complex but needed in order to improve cancer prevention efforts. Her work has also drawn upon international comparisons in order to better understand what places us at increased risk in the U.S.

Dr. Kerr considers her contribution to The Community Guide, which provides evidence on stair prompts, her most valued contribution to cancer control in health behavior research. However, if you ask her, she would say her methodological development work and the sharing of the best practices for the collection and processing of GPS data has enabled the field of spatial energetics to grow and has trained a new generation of exposome scientists.

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.”

Selected Grants

Project Title Grant Number Program Director
(PQA4) GPS Exposure to Environments & Relations With Biomarkers of Cancer Risk 4R01CA179977-04 David Berrigan