Staff: Kristin Litzelman, PhD

Kristin Litzelman

Kristin Litzelman, PhD

Former Fellow, Transitioned Outside of the Program

Fellow - Cancer Prevention Fellow
Former Organization:

Kristin Litzelman, Ph.D., was a Cancer Prevention Fellow in the Behavioral Research Program's Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch (BBPSB) from June 2013 to October 2015.

Dr. Litzelman earned her Doctorate in Population Health Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 2013 and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Litzelman's research interests center around the biopsychosocial effects of stress on health, and how these factors may accumulate over the life course to influence long-term health outcomes.

She is especially interested in the psychobiology of stress and how it may "get under the skin" to influence biological pathways and subsequent health, as well as the factors that may mitigate the negative health effects of stress. In her work, she has explored several variations on this theme, including the impact of illness on the family, specifically examining stress and quality of life among parents of children with cancer and other illnesses and family caregivers more generally. In addition, she has examined the impact of family caregiving on cellular aging (telomere length) and the associations among telomere length, telomere maintenance genes, and colorectal cancer.

During her fellowship, Dr. Litzelman pursued projects that extended her previous work, including examinations of the impact of family well-being on cancer patient outcomes, the associations between psychosocial factors and telomere length over time, and the role of epigenetic biomarkers in the stress-health pathway. In addition, she was a member of the Biospecimen Development Project team, specifically planning to assess the feasibility of telomere length measurement in that project and to evaluate absolute versus relative measures of telomere length. She also worked collaboratively with the NCI Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer, developing projects and partnerships. Her work was featured in a TED talk, "How to make stress your friend."

During her fellowship, she was also a State Specialist in Family and Financial Well-being in Middle and Later Life at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Family Living Programs

"Where are they now?": Following up with past BRP fellows
Updated January 2019

Current Title
Assistant Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

How has your BRP fellowship influenced your career?
Engaging with the BRP staff has been invaluable - my time with BRP allowed me to learn about and explore new ideas, make connections across fields and topic areas, and develop my own independent line of research. The collegiality and mentorship from everyone in BRP was phenomenal and transformative. Through my BRP fellowship I learned how to creatively identify good research questions and bring them to fruition.

Describe a favorite memory or two from your fellowship experience.
While I was at NCI, the Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch regularly convened for informal happy hours. Although these were intended to be social occasions, we often ended up talking shop. Some of the best research ideas, in-depth conversations, and problem solving emerged over tapas.

Describe your current position, your current organization, and what you do.
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I also have a joint appointment with the Division of Extension, whose mission it is to extend the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state, making evidence-based information available to individuals all across the state. I primarily engage in research, translation, and outreach activities, and teach first-year graduate students.

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

  • NEAFCS "Excellence in Multi-State Collaboration" - 3rd Place, regionally & nationally (2018)
  • OneSoHE21 Excellence in Teaching Award (2019)

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