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Diane K. Ehlers

I am a Behavioral Scientist.

Diane K. Ehlers, Ph.D.

University of Nebraska Medical Center

My postdoctoral training opened my eyes to interdisciplinary, comprehensive frameworks of physical activity's influence on quality of life-most specifically, ones that include cognitive function as a mechanism of well-being. During my training I had the opportunity to work on two clinical exercise trials - one in aging and one in breast cancer survivorship. These experiences motivated me to develop new research questions related to physical activity and cognitive function in cancer.

Dr. Ehlers' research focuses on the neurocognitive and psychosocial benefits of physical activity in cancer survivorship and older adulthood, with the overall objective to improve individuals' well-being and quality of life as they age. Her current research project examines the effectiveness of a community-based exercise program for improving neurocognitive health in women living with breast cancer. Cancer-associated cognitive decline (CACD) is an increasingly recognized cancer-related outcome, and many survivors describe the cognitive changes they experience as the most devasting consequence of their cancer. Unfortunately, currently there is no gold-standard treatment for CACD. However, evidence in older adults and emerging evidence in cancer survivors provide promising support for exercise as a means to ameliorate CACD. Dr. Ehlers' current project will contribute to the knowledge base on the effectiveness of exercise training for improving cognitive function in cancer survivors. Importantly, this project utilizes a community-based design and also measures implementation, with the goal of accelerating the translation of evidence into practice.

Dr. Ehlers first became interested in this field during her postdoctoral training. Her predoctoral research focused on physical activity behaviors in middle-aged and older women; therefore, the transition to cancer survivorship, specifically breast cancer survivorship, was natural. During her postdoctoral training, she worked on clinical exercise trials focusing on neurocognitive function in older adults. As a result, she was able to marry her predoctoral research in women's health with her postdoctoral research in neurocognition-now defining her current research in exercise oncology.


Grant Listing
Project Title Grant Number Program Director Publication(s)
Enhancing cognitive function in breast cancer survivors through community-based aerobic exercise training
1R37CA252060-01A1
Wendy Nelson


To request edits to this profile, please contact Mark Alexander at alexandm@mail.nih.gov.

Last Updated: 06/08/2021 11:56:23