Grantee: Kuang-Yi Wen

Kuang-Yi Wen

Kuang-Yi Wen, Ph.D.

Health Systems Engineer
  • Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Current Title
Associate Professor, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Describe your scientific identity.
I am a health systems engineer with behavioral oncology training focusing on developing tools and solutions to support individual and organizational change. Regardless of my degree, title, or training, I call myself a "people engineer" - I care about people and the process. I believe patients are experts on the impact of their conditions on their lives. My studies usually begin with understanding the needs of the target population and the process - mapping the patients' journey and experience from their perspectives in order to iteratively design and refine a user-centered intervention for the target population.

What are your research interests?
My current research interests focus on developing, evaluating, and disseminating communication technology-mediated intervention to promote cancer risk behavior change and improve cancer patient treatment management/medication adherence. In particular, my current R21 examines how to use Twitter and Facebook to deliver smoking relapse prevention materials and to foster online peer support among low-income minority pregnant and postpartum women. 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. This project helps us to rethink how to harness the power of social media in smoking cessation among underserved populations and ways to encourage user-generated content through different social media engagement strategies.

What is the significance of your current research project?
Tobacco smoking, the leading preventable cause of premature morbidity and mortality, is one of the most pressing public health issues that we face as a society, particularly among those who are from lower socioeconomic minority communities. The approaches tested from the current R21 have the potential to reduce the persistent postpartum smoking relapse that contributes to disparities in low-income minority women.

What motivated you to work in health communication research?
Like many families, my family has been impacted by cancer, and the need for looking for information, for explanation, for support, even for hope. That really motivates me to leverage communication technologies to empower individuals.

Describe something that had a profound influence on your program of research or scientific interests (an "ah-ha!" moment).
My ah-ha moment came when I was trying to understand and analyze the RCT study data. A Facebook private message just popped up from a participant saying how grateful she was for the smoking cessation and support information we provided. It made me feel so rewarded and excited, much more than when I see a significant p-value or large effect size.

Selected training, awards, and honors:

  • University of Wisconsin Vilas Award (2004)
  • American Society of Preventive Oncology Selected New Investigator Fellow (2009)
  • NIH Summer Institute on Systems Science and Health Training Fellowship (2012)
  • NIH Summer Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health Training Fellowship (2012)
  • NIH Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials Training Fellowship (2013)
  • NCI CRCHD 2014 Professional Development Workshop Scientific Poster Winner (2014)

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.”

Selected Grants

Project Title Grant Number Program Director
Preventing postpartum smoking relapse: a twitter-enabled supportive intervention 5R21CA198036-02 Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou