Staff: Frank Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D.

Frank Perna

Frank Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D.

Program Director
Organization: Contact:
pernafm@mail.nih.gov
240-276-6782

Frank Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D., is a Psychologist and Program Director at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), Behavioral Research Program (BRP), Health Behaviors Research Branch (HBRB). Dr. Perna provides leadership and oversees a research portfolio related to physical activity promotion, exercise intervention for cancer survivors, and skin cancer prevention and control. He holds a secondary appointment with the DCCPS Implementation Science team.

Prior to coming to NCI, Dr. Perna was a tenured associate professor at West Virginia University and later served as an associate professor and director of health psychology at Boston University School of Medicine where he maintained an active program of (NIH) funded research and a clinical practice. Throughout his career, his work has addressed exercise intervention for persons with or at risk for chronic disease. His other research and practice areas include performance enhancement work with professional and recreational athletes, facilitating adjustment to athletic injury, and skin cancer prevention and control.

Dr. Perna has been listed on the Sport Psychology Registry of the United States Olympic Committee. He served as a research psychologist at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He was elected to the executive boards of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology and the American Psychological Association's Division of Exercise & Sport Psychology, and he served on the editorial board for the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and on two Commonwealth of Massachusetts Expert Panels on the Safety of Bariatric Surgery. He was also the recipient of the Dorothy Harris Early Career Contribution award and the Walter Peach Health Psychology career award from the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. He received his Bachelor's degree from the East Stroudsburg University, obtained Doctorates in Counseling Psychology and Health Psychology from Boston University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively, and completed a clinical psychology internship in medical psychology at the Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center. He also held postdoctoral fellowships at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the University of Miami.


Secondary Branch/Office Appointment:  Implementation Science (IS)

Current and/or past BRP mentors include Michele Bloch.

Current and/or past BRP mentees include Kasey Morris, Jenn Nguyen and Anne Julian.


Research Areas

  • Physical activity
  • School policy
  • Skin cancer prevention
  • Sport psychology
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Biopsychosocial mechanisms and theories of behavior change

Selected Publications and Presentations