Program Members

Co-Leaders

Catherine Bender

Catherine Bender

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-3594 cbe100@pitt.edu School of Nursing
415 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • adherence to cancer therapy,Breast Cancer,Cognitive function of cancer patients,reproductive hormones
Read More about Catherine Bender
Dana Bovbjerg

Dana Bovbjerg

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-623-7771 bovbjergdh@upmc.edu University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Hillman Cancer Center 5115 Centre Avenue, Suite 140
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Biobehavioral factors in cancer,cancer diagnosis,cancer risk,cancer screening,psychological factors in cancer,smoking behavior
Read More about Dana Bovbjerg

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Members

Monica Baskin

Monica Baskin

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(412) 623-3421 baskinml@upmc.edu 5150 Centre Ave
Room 549A
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am a behavioral scientist with a research focus on understanding and addressing cancer health disparities. My clinical training as a psychologist and extensive NIH-funded research history includes the design, evaluation and dissemination of behavioral and environmental interventions to address cancer and other chronic conditions. My approach relies heavily on community-based participatory research (CBPR) to identify sociocultural and environmental determinants of health among populations at greater risk of disease (e.g., African Americans, lower income populations, rural residents). For example, I served as PI for the Full Research Project on a community network partnership center grant (U54CA153719) that involved a cluster-randomized trial of a multi-level weight loss intervention for African American women at higher risk of cancer who live in the rural Deep South (Alabama and Mississippi) and a cluster-randomized trial testing the efficacy of a weight loss intervention for African American cancer survivors in the Black Belt of Alabama (R01CA160313). My collective work has cemented my expertise in outreach and engagement, the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups into biobehavioral research, recruitment of family and non-family support, community-engaged research, mixed-method designs, and dissemination of research findings to multiple audiences (including participants and community partners). I believe membership in the HCC research program will afford me greater access to collaborations and resources to expand my work and adapt research originally conducted in the Deep South to populations in Pennsylvania.

Read More about Monica Baskin
Todd Bear

Todd Bear

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(412) 624-3126 tobst2@pitt.edu University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
130 DeSoto Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Currently I work in cancer surveillance via survey methods to investigate factors related to disparities in cancer prevention, access to treatment, quality of life, and cancer-related protective and risk factors across the lifespan. As the Director of the HCC’s Population Survey Facility, I envision collaborations with HCC members that will ultimately result in interdisciplinary work through a population health lens focusing specifically on reducing cancer related health disparities in the HCC catchment area.

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Sarah Belcher

Sarah Belcher

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Sarah Belcher
Catherine Bender

Catherine Bender

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-3594 cbe100@pitt.edu School of Nursing
415 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • adherence to cancer therapy
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cognitive function of cancer patients
  • reproductive hormones
Read More about Catherine Bender
Jaime Booth

Jaime Booth

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-8216 jmbooth@pitt.edu Cathedral of Learning , 2229
4200 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh PA
Read More about Jaime Booth
Dana Bovbjerg

Dana Bovbjerg

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-623-7771 bovbjergdh@upmc.edu University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Hillman Cancer Center 5115 Centre Avenue, Suite 140
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Biobehavioral factors in cancer
  • cancer diagnosis
  • cancer risk
  • cancer screening
  • psychological factors in cancer
  • smoking behavior
Read More about Dana Bovbjerg
Hailey Bulls

Hailey Bulls

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(412) 692-2666 hailey.bulls@pitt.edu 230 McKee Place
Suite 600
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

The mission of my research is to improve pain management and quality of life for patients with cancer. am currently funded by the Pitt CTSI KL2 to explore stigma around prescription opioids in adults with advanced cancer, who often have high rates of moderate-to-severe pain and prescription opioid exposure. The second aim of my work is to identify patients at risk for cancer-related pain and neuropathy as early as possible in order to improve access to effective pain management resources. In addition to my own research, I collaborate closely with my mentors Dr. Yael Schenker and Dr. Jessica Merlin, as well as other collaborators across the university, on other relevant projects. For example, I serve as co-I and site PI for a recently funded R01 (PI: Merlin) to understand risks, benefits, and stakeholder perspectives of opioid prescribing for patients with advanced cancer who are expected to live for years with their diagnosis.

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Kar-Hai Chu

Kar-Hai Chu

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Kar-Hai Chu
Cynthia Conklin

Cynthia Conklin

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Cynthia Conklin
Yvette Conley

Yvette Conley

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Summary

Dr. Conley’s research interests are in the field of molecular genetics. She has a fully equipped molecular genomics laboratory located within the School of Nursing, and her lab is involved with several research projects. Her current research focuses on genomic and epigenomic studies of patient outcomes after traumatic brain injury, stroke, and therapeutic interventions for cancer, as well as genomic studies of age-related macular degeneration.

Read More about Yvette Conley
Brian Davis

Brian Davis

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-648-9745 davisb@dom.pitt.edu Biomedical Science Tower
E1457
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Pathological changes in sensory neurons is thought to contribute to chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pancreatitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and cancer. In addition to producing debilitating pain sensations, hyperactive sensory neurons can release bioactive peptides that further exacerbate disease. Research in the Davis laboratory focuses on the role of growth factors in the development and adult plasticity of the central and peripheral nervous system. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Albers (Department of Medicine), who has created lines of transgenic mice overexpressing specific growth factors; and Dr. H. Richard Koerber (Department of Neurobiology), who is examining plasticity of second-order spinal cord neurons. Currently, Dr. Davis's research is focused on somatic and visceral pain and growth factors of the NGF and GDNF families. Specifically, he has found that these growth factors (that are required for embryonic development of primary afferents) are upregulated in models of chronic pain. The lab also has strong evidence that this upregulation directly contributes to the development of persistent pain states. The goal of this research is to determine how these changes contribute to the development of chronic pain, with an emphasis on the transcriptional events and downstream signaling that controls the response properties of sensory neurons. This information may lead to identification of new targets that could be the basis of novel therapies for chronic somatic and visceral pain.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • growth factors
  • Pain Management
  • Signal Transduction
Read More about Brian Davis
Esa Davis

Esa Davis

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Esa Davis
Natacha DeGenna

Natacha DeGenna

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Natacha DeGenna
Heidi Donovan

Heidi Donovan

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-2699 donovanh@pitt.edu School of Nursing
415 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
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).

Research Interests and Keywords
  • oncology caregivers
  • Quality of Life
  • Symptom management
Read More about Heidi Donovan
Kirk Erickson

Kirk Erickson

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-4533 kiericks@pitt.edu 3107 Sennott Square
210 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • Cognitive Aging Methods
  • Exercise
  • Improving Cognition
Read More about Kirk Erickson
Robert Ferguson

Robert Ferguson

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Robert Ferguson
Frank Jenkins

Frank Jenkins

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-623-3233 fjenkins@pitt.edu G.17 Hillman Cancer Center
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • biobehavioral stress
  • herpesviruses
  • HHV-8
  • Human herpesvirus 8
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • KSHV
  • Prostate cancer
Read More about Frank Jenkins
Young Ji Lee

Young Ji Lee

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Summary

My research interests have been focused on structuring and delivering health information through an informatics-based approach to diverse groups, especially to minority populations. Especially, my research has engaged community residents to assess their needs and understand their circumstances in order to empower them to manage their own health through health communication interventions. Methodologically, I have extensive experience in mining big data to reveal hidden relationships between agents. 

My current project is to apply network analysis to social media data to understand patterns of symptom cluster and unmet needs among ovarian cancer survivors. 

Read More about Young Ji Lee
Michele Levine

Michele Levine

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Michele Levine
Carissa Low

Carissa Low

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

lowca@upmc.edu Hillman Cancer Center
William Cooper Pavilion, Suite 140 5115 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Depression
  • Mobile health
  • physical activity and sedentary behavior
  • sickness behavior
Read More about Carissa Low
Jessica Merlin

Jessica Merlin

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(215) 806-1888 merlinjs@upmc.edu 4012 Ewing Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am an NIH-funded investigator whose focus is on the intersection between chronic pain and opioid misuse/use disorder, particularly in individuals with serious illness, including advanced cancer. I currently hold an NIH-funded R01 to study the risks, benefits, and decision-making surrounding opioid prescribing in patients with advanced cancer (2021-2026), and am competing a Cambia Health Foundation funded study to identify expert consensus management strategies for opioid misuse/use disorder in patients with advanced cancer.

Read More about Jessica Merlin
Marci Nilsen

Marci Nilsen

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-648-3027 mlf981@pitt.edu 415 Victoria Buiding
3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • head and neck cancer
  • Survivorship
  • Symptom management
Read More about Marci Nilsen
Kyle Orwig

Kyle Orwig

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Kyle Orwig
Kenneth Perkins

Kenneth Perkins

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-246-5397 perkinska@upmc.edu WPIC
3811 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Perkins is author or co-author of over 200 publications, primarily on behavioral aspects of nicotine or tobacco smoking. Among his ongoing projects, one focuses on nicotine's effects in enhancing reinforcement from various non-drug rewards that are independent of nicotine intake, which has been demonstrated by others in animal models, but only recently shown in humans by Dr. Perkins. This reinforcement enhancing effect is separate from nicotine's well-known primary and secondary reinforcing effects. In another recent project, an efficient procedure for screening novel medications to treat tobacco dependence was developed and validated (i.e., FDA early phase 2). This project continues, as the procedure is now being used for its ultimate purpose, to evaluate efficacy for cessation in new compounds, and it may be applicable to screening novel medications to treat other drug dependence problems. A third, newer project aims to determine the lowest dose of nicotine via cigarettes that can be discriminated (i.e., perceived) from placebo, which could help inform public policy on tobacco regulation. Other ongoing research interests include individual differences in the pharmacological and non-pharmacological factors that promote smoking, and environmental factors that moderate responses to nicotine or cigarette smoking.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Tobacco use
Read More about Kenneth Perkins
Donna Posluszny

Donna Posluszny

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

poslusznydm@upmc.edu Hillman Cancer Center
5115 Centre Ave., Suite 140
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Adherence to medical regimens
  • family caregivers
  • hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT)
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • patient-caregiver dyadic coping
  • psychosocial adaptation
  • Quality of Life
Read More about Donna Posluszny
Margaret Rosenzweig

Margaret Rosenzweig

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

mros@pitt.edu School of Nursing
336 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • cancer education
  • Cancer survivorship
  • electronic symptom assessment
  • metastatic breast cancer
  • minority cancer
  • Women's cancer
Read More about Margaret Rosenzweig
Lindsay Sabik

Lindsay Sabik

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-0273 lsabik@pitt.edu A613 Crabtree Hall
130 De Soto St.
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • cancer care
  • cancer screening
  • health economics
  • health outcomes
  • Healthcare access
  • underserved populations
Read More about Lindsay Sabik
Jami Saloman

Jami Saloman

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(412) 383-5120 jls354@pitt.edu University of Pittsburgh, E1457 Biomedical Science Tower
200 Lothrop St.
Pittsburgh PA
Research Interests and Keywords
  • Cancer-related neuropathy
  • Contribution of nerves to tumorigenesis
  • Neuro-immune interactions in cancer
  • Pancreas Cancer
Read More about Jami Saloman
Michael Sayette

Michael Sayette

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

sayette@pitt.edu 4303 Sennott Square
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Sayette's research focuses on psychological theories of alcohol use and abuse, cigarette smoking, and drug craving, and on cognitive, affective, and social processes in addiction.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • alcohol use and abuse
  • cigarette smoking
  • drug craving
  • Psychology of addiction
Read More about Michael Sayette
Nicole Scheff

Nicole Scheff

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-623-7871 scheffn@upmc.edu Hillman Cancer Center Research Pavilion
5117 Centre Ave, Suite 1.19F
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) causes severe pain, increased stress, and reduced quality of life, which exceeds the levels seen in other cancers. Development of improved non-opioid therapies will likely be hastened with an increased understanding of underlying mechanisms driving cancer pain. Beyond sensory/pain signaling, the peripheral nervous system has been identified as a component of the cancer microenvironment and may be involved in modulating tumor progression and tumor-associated immunity. The cancer microenvironment is comprised of stromal cells, glial cells, immune cells, neurons (e.g., motor, sensory, sympathetic) and proliferating tumor cells. The Scheff lab seeks to integrate the neurobiology, cancer biology, and immunology fields in order to fully appreciate neural-immune-cancer communication. The goal of our research is to understand plasticity in peripheral neurons associated with cancer and to investigate whether therapy targeted to neurons in the cancer microenvironment can alleviate pain and slow carcinogenesis. The lab executes translational research through collection of patient-reported outcomes and clinical specimens as well as implementation of molecular, electrophysiological and behavioral studies in preclinical mouse models.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • cancer neurobiology
  • cancer-related pain
  • head and neck cancer
  • neuro-immune interactions
Read More about Nicole Scheff
Yael Schenker

Yael Schenker

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

yas28@pitt.edu 230 McKee Place, Suite 600
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • clinician-patient communication
  • informed consent
  • language barriers
  • Palliative Care
  • supportive oncology care
  • surrogate decision making
Read More about Yael Schenker
William Shadel

William Shadel

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

wgs1@pitt.edu RAND Corporation
4570 Fifth Ave. Suite 600
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Shadel's research ranges from basic human laboratory work designed to understand the biopsychosocial mechanisms that contribute to smoking initiation and cessation, to the evaluation of cognitive-behavioral and pharmacological smoking cessation interventions in the clinic and public health settings. He has been continuously funded as a principal investigator by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1999. Dr. Shadel's current grants examine how tobacco advertising contributes to adolescent smoking behavior, and the psychosocial mechanisms that underlie relapse in adult smokers.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • cognitive-behavioral and pharmacological smoking cessation interventions
Read More about William Shadel
Paula Sherwood

Paula Sherwood

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-624-4802 prs11@pitt.edu School of Nursing
336 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St.
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • biobehavioral oncology
  • brain tumors
  • caregiver
  • neuro-oncology
  • neurological surgery
  • Quality of Life
Read More about Paula Sherwood
Saul Shiffman

Saul Shiffman

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-383-2051 shiffman@pitt.edu 510 BELPB
130 N. Bellefield Avenue
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

Dr. Shiffman's research focuses on tobacco use and nicotine dependence and their development, the nicotine withdrawal syndrome, smoking relapse, behavioral and pharmacological treatment for smoking, and tobacco control. Dr. Shiffman is currently conducting two trials, both focused on non-daily smokers, who are a substantial and growing fraction of adult smokers. The first study focuses on assessing the effects of switching to very low nicotine content cigarettes (VLNCCs) among intermittent smokers (ITS). This is a two-arm randomized study with an own-cigarette baseline control. After a 2-week baseline period smoking their own cigarettes, ITS will be randomized for 10 weeks to smoke experimental cigarettes, either (a) normal nicotine content cigarettes, or VLNCCs. Change in cigarette consumption is the primary end-point, and biomarkers of smoke exposure and measures of smoking intensity are also assessed. The second study focuses on the effect of as-needed oral Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for smoking cessation in ITS, and to study the process of relapse in ITS, using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). Reviews of ITS have called for research on ITS' relapse process, and for evaluation of cessation methods, including medications, among ITS. This will be a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of oral NRT for smoking cessation in ITS. EMA data collection includes two weeks of baseline data on ad lib smoking patterns and 6 weeks of post-quit data, using methods we successfully fielded in our previous research. This will capture data on craving, withdrawal, and relapse among ITS, and relate relapse contexts to baseline smoking patterns.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • dependence
  • Smoking
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Tobacco
Read More about Saul Shiffman
Jaime Sidani

Jaime Sidani

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

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Jennifer Steel

Jennifer Steel

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

steeljl@upmc.edu Falkc 4
Pittsburgh PA
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Alan Sved

Alan Sved

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

Read More about Alan Sved
Jean Tersak

Jean Tersak

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

tersakjm@upmc.edu UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Plaza Building, Room 505B, 4401 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh PA
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Teresa Thomas

Teresa Thomas

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

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Meghan Tipre

Meghan Tipre

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(412) 623-3728 tiprem@upmc.edu 5150 Centre Ave
Suite 4C
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My research interests focus on studying the relationship between environmental hazards and cancer, examining whether socio-cultural, biological, and behavioral determinants may mediate or moderate these relationships. I use a broad toolkit of research methods, including quantitative and qualitative methods, geographic information systems (GIS), and spatial statistics, to characterize risk factors and test hypotheses. 

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Robin Valpey

Robin Valpey

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

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Gijsberta van Londen

Gijsberta van Londen

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-692-2382 vanlondenj@upmc.edu Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC
300 Halket Street, Room 3526
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • adherence to self-administered cancer therapies
  • Breast Cancer
  • Cancer survivorship
  • health information technology
  • post-cancer treatment symptom management
  • self-care
Read More about Gijsberta van Londen
Elizabeth Venditti

Elizabeth Venditti

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

412-647-5200 vendittiem@upmc.edu 100 N. Bellefield Ave., Suite 830
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

My obesity management and disease prevention experiences encompass several clinical (university-based and private psychology practice), research (NIH clinical trials and translational studies) and training (developing/mentoring diverse practitioners and programs in the community) roles. Most of my work involves the design and pragmatic application of evidence-based lifestyle behavior change interventions as a roadmap for more widespread dissemination of disease prevention programs to benefit public health. I serve as Principal Investigator (PI) in the multi-site longitudinal follow-up of the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) cohort to examine: 1) the effectiveness of early metformin treatment (initiated during pre-diabetes) on the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer; 2) the longer term impact of the intensive lifestyle treatment, continued (in less intensive form) during DPPOS; and 3) the clinical course of dysglycemia, associated metabolic abnormalities, and the development of long term disease outcomes among all randomized treatment groups.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Behavioral medicine
  • health psychology
  • lifestyle intervention
  • Obesity
Read More about Elizabeth Venditti
Susan Wesmiller

Susan Wesmiller

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

swe100@pitt.edu School of Nursing
440 Victoria Building 3500 Victoria St
Pittsburgh PA
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.

Research Interests and Keywords
  • Breast Cancer
  • Genetics
  • ovarian cancer
  • Postoperative symptoms
Read More about Susan Wesmiller
Risa Wong

Risa Wong

Program: Biobehavioral Cancer Control

(412) 864-6458 wongrl@upmc.edu UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Centre Ave, 5th Fl
Pittsburgh PA
Summary

I am a medical oncologist specializing in genitourinary cancers. My research interests are in symptom management for patients with genitourinary cancers and novel imaging modalities for prostate cancer.

Read More about Risa Wong

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