Staff: Wendy Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Wendy Nelson

Wendy Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Program Director
Organization: Contact:
nelsonw@mail.nih.gov
240-276-6971

Wendy Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H., has been a member of the Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch (BBPSB), located in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), since October 1999. She received undergraduate degrees from Smith College and Duke University School of Nursing, a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Saint Louis University. Dr. Nelson also completed a clinical psychology internship at Harvard University Medical School and a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University Medical School, where she specialized in consultation-liaison psychiatry, health psychology, and chemical dependence treatment.

Early in her career, Dr. Nelson worked in nursing and public health. Her public health career included an Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several years as an epidemiologist in the Office of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, at the Food and Drug Administration. Prior to working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Nelson was an assistant professor at Northwestern University Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, where she specialized in behavioral medicine and the treatment of HIV-infected patients and families. In 1998, Dr. Nelson joined the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a behavioral scientist in the Division of AIDS. In 1999, she was appointed program director at NCI and shortly thereafter developed the Basic and Applied Decision Making in Cancer Control initiative in an effort to bridge basic judgment and decision making science and applied cancer prevention and control research. Dr. Nelson's research interests include judgment and decision making, behavioral economics, medical decision making, the role of numeracy in health-related decision making, decision support tool development, behavior maintenance, and ethical issues in clinical trials and behavioral research.


Secondary Branch/Office Appointment:  Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch (HCIRB)

Current and/or past BRP mentees include Alexander Persoskie, Rebecca Ferrer and Wen-Ying Chou.


Research Areas

  • Decision making
  • Behavioral economics and health
  • Health numeracy/literacy
  • Human subjects protections
  • Cognitive effects of chemotherapy and cancer
  • Adherence to oral targeted therapies
  • Risk reduction strategies for women at high risk for ovarian cancer

Selected Publications and Presentations