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Cancer Survivorship investigators

Catherine Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN
Contact:
School of Nursing
415 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-3594
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Cognitive function of cancer patients
  • reproductive hormones
  • breast cancer
  • adherence to cancer therapy
Summary
My two areas of research interest include the neuropsychological sequellae of cancer and cancer treatment and the physiological mechanisms underlying these problems and adherence to cancer therapy. More specifically, my research focuses on the changes in cognitive function and mood that occur in patients with cancer. I also examine whether the changes in reproductive hormones that occur as a consequence of cancer therapy are related to changes in cognitive function experienced by women with cancer, and we are investigating candidate genes for correlations with cognitive function in patients with cancer. I also study adherence to therapy in patients with cancer and other chronic conditions and predictors of non-adherence to therapy.
Grace Campbell, PhD, MSW, RN, CRRN
Heidi Donovan, PhD, RN
Contact:
School of Nursing
415 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-2699
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Symptom management
  • quality of life
  • oncology caregivers
Summary
My expertise is in symptom management and the development and testing of theoretically-guided psycho-educational interventions to improve outcomes for patients with cancer and their family caregivers. I am the co-developer of the Representational Approach (RA) to patient education, an intervention theory designed to promote behavior change to improve self-management of complex health problems. I have had sustained funding to develop and test a web-based symptom management intervention (WRITE Symptoms) based on the RA with the aim of improving symptoms, patient-health care provider communication, and quality of life among women with recurrent ovarian cancer (NR010735). I am also a Co-PI with Dr. Paula Sherwood on a 3-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the impact of a web-based caregiver intervention (SmartCare) on biobehavioral outcomes for caregivers of patients with a primary malignant brain tumor (NR013170).
Robert Ferguson, PhD
Carissa Low, PhD
Contact:
Hillman Cancer Center
William Cooper Pavilion, Suite 140 5115 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Mobile health
  • sickness behavior
  • depression
  • physical activity and sedentary behavior
Summary
Dr. Low's research focuses on interactions between behavior, biology, and patient-centered outcomes in the context of cancer. She is particularly interested in the use of technology to assess and target health behaviors, psychological stress, and symptoms during cancer treatment.
Donna Posluszny, PhD
Contact:
Hillman Cancer Center
5115 Centre Ave., Suite 140
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Adherence to medical regimens
  • psychosocial adaptation
  • family caregivers
  • patient-caregiver dyadic coping
  • hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT)
  • leukemia
  • lymphoma
  • quality of life
Summary
I have conducted behavioral research in a variety of cancer populations including breast, gynecologic, head and neck, and hematological malignancies. I currently hold an NCI K23 Career Development Award examining adherence to the medical regimen for hematological cancer patients who are post allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and their family caregivers. Allogeneic HCT is a potentially curative therapy for hematologic disease, but is associated with multiple complications and significant stress to patients and family caregivers (CGs). To enhance outcomes and minimize risks, patients and CGs must work together as a team to carefully adhere to the multi-component post-HCT medical regimen, consisting of multiple daily medications, frequent clinic visits, strict catheter care, health monitoring, and dietary and lifestyle restrictions. Despite the clinical importance of adherence to the post-HCT regimen, particularly during the critical first 100 days post HCT, little research has examined rates or risk factors for nonadherence in this population, or how HCT patients and family caregivers manage each component of the post-HCT regimen together. Further, it is important to develop strategies to help patients and family caregivers better adhere to the regimen. Problem-Solving Therapy (PST), an evidenced-based clinical intervention to enhance coping strategies, will be the basis to build a novel patient-caregiver dyadic intervention for the HCT population.
Margaret Rosenzweig, PhD, CRNP-C, AOCN
Contact:
School of Nursing
336 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Women's cancer
  • cancer education
  • cancer survivorship
  • metastatic breast cancer
  • electronic symptom assessment
  • minority cancer
Summary
My program of research seeks to better understand cancer illness to inform interventions directed towards educating and supporting patients with breast cancer, in order to empower them in obtaining optimal health care. My research career first included exploration of metastatic breast cancer experience according to race and income. I then received six additional extramural grant awards as principal investigator, which supported preliminary descriptive studies that culminated in the development of a psycho-educational intervention for the unique educational and supportive needs of African American women diagnosed with cancer and for women with newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer. Specifically, each of these studies explores the impact that biobehavioral and psychosocial factors have on the cancer patient and how approaches and interventions can be tailored to improve the illness experience.
Nicole Scheff, PhD
Contact:
Hillman Cancer Center
Research Pavilion Suite 2.27
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-623-2806
Paula Sherwood, PhD, RN, CNRN, FAAN
Contact:
School of Nursing
336 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St.
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-4802
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Brain tumors
  • biobehavioral oncology
  • quality of life
  • neuro-oncology
  • neurological surgery
  • caregiver
Summary
My primary research focus is on biobehavioral interactions in persons with cancer and neurologic conditions. I am particularly interested in the area of neuro-oncology, working with both patients and family caregivers to improve outcomes and health care delivery.
Teresa Hagan Thomas
Susan Wesmiller, PhD, RN
Contact:
School of Nursing
440 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Postoperative symptoms
  • genetics
  • breast cancer
  • ovarian cancer
Summary
The focus of my research is the genetics of postoperative symptoms. Specifically, I am studying the association of several genes and postoperative and post-discharge nausea and vomiting in women following surgery for breast and ovarian cancer. We would like to be able to understand why some women do not respond to antiemetic medications, and to predict who is at greatest risk.
Dana Bovbjerg, PhD
Contact:
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Hillman Cancer Center 5115 Centre Avenue, Suite 140
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-623-7771
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Biobehavioral factors in cancer
  • cancer risk
  • cancer screening
  • cancer diagnosis
  • psychological factors in cancer
  • smoking behavior
Summary
Interdisciplinary studies of: biobehavioral factors in cancer; the emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and biological consequences of breast cancer risk; the contribution of biobehavioral factors to side effects of medical treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) and interventions that may ameliorate those effects; interactions between psychological and genetic factors in persistent smoking behavior; and, psychological influences on cancer screening decisions.
Patricia Documet, MD, DrPH
Contact:
6133 GSPH
130 De Soto St
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-1601
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Cancer screening
  • health disparities
  • public health
Kirk Erickson, PhD
Contact:
3107 Sennott Square
210 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-4533
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Cognitive Aging Methods
  • Exercise
  • Improving Cognition
Charles Horn, PhD
Contact:
Hillman Cancer Center - Research Pavilion, G.17b
5117 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-623-1417
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Chemotherapy side effects
  • nausea and vomiting
  • quality of life
  • neurobiology
Summary
Neural interactions between the alimentary tract and brain are essential to good health, but cancer patients often experience disrupted gastrointestinal (GI) function, reduced nutrition, and the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. My research focuses on determining the biological mechanisms that control gut-brain communication and contribute to nutritional homeostasis. Current interests include studies on the neurobiological mechanisms of nausea and vomiting. This research program has the long-term goal of developing novel therapies to decrease GI symptom burden and improve quality of life for cancer patients.
Frank Jenkins, PhD
Contact:
G.17 Hillman Cancer Center
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-623-3233
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Human herpesvirus 8
  • HHV-8
  • KSHV
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • prostate cancer
  • herpesviruses
  • biobehavioral stress
Summary
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), or HHV-8, is a member of the human herpesvirus family whose DNA sequences have been found in samples of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). A number of projects in our laboratory are focused on the prevalence of KSHV infection in various cohorts and populations. We are particularly interested in the serological association of KSHV with human prostate cancer and are investigating at a molecular level, potential roles for KSHV in progression and maintenance of this cancer. We are also exploring the events during primary KSHV infection, including interactions between the virus and cell membrane, modulation of host gene synthesis, and establishment of viral infection. My lab has also been involved for several years in biobehavioral medicine. Specifically, we are interested in the role of stress and stress hormones in disease pathogenesis. Our current studies involve how stress hormones affect individual cells, the types of damage they may inflict on these cells and the outcomes of these interactions.
Faina Linkov, PhD, MPH
Contact:
Magee-Womens Research Institute
3380 Blvd of Allies, Suite 323
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-641-2501
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Gynecologic cancers
  • endometrial cancer
  • obesity
  • behavioral lifestyle interventions
  • early detection
  • cancer biomarkers
Summary
Dr. Linkov's primary area of interest is gynecologic malignancies. Concentrating on obesity and weight loss studies, current research focuses on the use of biological tumor markers to monitor interventions intended to reduce the risk of cancer. The overarching idea of this research is that endometrial cancer, as well as some other malignancies that are sensitive to obesity, can potentially be prevented with weight loss.

Dr. Linkov has participated in multiple studies on the use of biologic markers for the early detection of malignancies, as well as in a large project investigating temporal reliability of biologic markers in healthy people. She conducted a study investigating biomarker levels in healthy people involved in different types of exercise activities.

Marci Nilsen, PhD, RN
Contact:
415 Victoria Buiding
3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-648-3027
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Symptom management
  • head and neck cancer
  • survivorship
Summary
Dr. Nilsen's research interests include: 1. Impact of communication and interaction behaviors on nursing care quality of acutely ill older adults; 2. Acceptance and adoption of alternative communication tools to improve symptom management for older adults recovering from surgery for head and neck cancer; and 3. Survivorship and late effects of treatment for head and neck cancer.
Linda Robertson, RN, MSN, DrPH
Contact:
5150 Centre Avenue
POB2 Cancer Pavillion, Room 438
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Community-based research
  • decision making
  • health equity
  • cancer care disparities
  • cancer vaccines
  • HPV knowledge and vaccine uptake
  • underserved communities
  • cancer prevention
  • early detection
Summary
My research interests include health care equity/disparities and decision making, primarily focused on cancer prevention and early detection. I also have a strong interest in vaccine uptake as it relates to the individual decision-making process, as well as outreach efforts. My efforts are largely focused in working with underserved individuals and communities, using a community-based participatory research approach. I received the University Center for Social and Urban Research Steven Manners Faculty Development Award for a pilot study, 'Social Stressors, Air Pollution, and Cancer in Allegheny County' and am the local PI on a funded R01, 'Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity (ACCURE).'
Lindsay Sabik, PhD
Contact:
A613 Crabtree Hall
130 De Soto St.
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-624-0273
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Healthcare access
  • health outcomes
  • cancer care
  • underserved populations
  • health economics
  • cancer screening
Summary
Dr. Sabik is a health economist and health services researcher focused on investigating the role of state and federal policies in affecting healthcare access, utilization, and health outcomes among low-income populations, with a particular focus on cancer care for underserved populations. She is currently principal investigator on a project funded by the National Cancer Institute investigating the role of Medicaid policy in breast and cervical cancer screening for low-income women and disparities in screening and outcomes. In addition, she is PI on a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society to study the impact of state health reform on breast and colorectal cancer diagnosis and treatment. She has also served as an investigator on a number of foundation-funded projects evaluating Medicaid policies and programs at the state and national levels and investigating issues related to the role of the healthcare safety net.
Yael Schenker, MD, MS
Contact:
230 McKee Place, Suite 600
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Palliative care
  • supportive oncology care
  • informed consent
  • surrogate decision making
  • clinician-patient communication
  • language barriers
Summary
My primary research interest is in the integration of palliative care services in oncology, with a particular focus on developing new models to improve provision of 'primary' palliative care within oncology practices. Secondary research interests include surrogate decision making, informed consent, and the impact of language and cultural barriers on patient-clinician communication.
Jennifer Steel, PhD
Contact:
Falkc 4
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Collaborative care interventions to manage cancer-related symptoms and improve quality of life for cancer patients
Jean Tersak
Gijsberta van Londen, MD, MS
Contact:
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
300 Halket Street, Room 3526
Pittsburgh PA
Phone: 412-692-2382
Research Interests and Keywords:
  • Cancer survivorship
  • breast cancer
  • adherence to self-administered cancer therapies
  • self-care
  • post-cancer treatment symptom management
  • health information technology
Summary
Dr. van Londen is a medical oncologist and geriatrician whose research interests focus on a wide variety of topics relevant to cancer survivorship via multiple collaborations. However, her primary research focus relates to the assessment and management of adverse effects of adjuvant endocrine therapy in older cancer survivors.
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