University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Overview

The overall goal of the Biobehavioral Oncology Program (BOP) is to promote innovative and productive interdisciplinary research focused on the role of mind and brain in cancer with the long term objective of contributing to reduced risk of cancer development, earlier detection, improved treatment response, reduced symptom burden, and enhanced survival. Grounded in the behavioral sciences, Program investigators conduct basic, preclinical, clinical, and translational research examining effects of stress and other psychological processes across the cancer continuum. Behavioral pathways linking mind/brain and cancer (e.g., smoking, screening behavior, treatment adherence) as well as biological pathways (e.g., stress-induced changes in neuroendocrine responses, inflammatory processes, DNA repair) are under active investigation. Program investigators are also exploring reciprocal effects of cancer and its treatment on the mind/brain (e.g., studies of nausea, pain, fatigue, emotional distress, and cognitive functioning) as well as secondary effects of the cancer experience on family members and caregivers within a biobehavioral framework.

The specific scientific goals of the BOP are to:

  1. Elucidate biobehavioral influences (particularly stress) on basic biological processes that contribute to cancer development and/or progression;
  2. Explore the influences of biobehavioral interactions on clinical care and survivorship issues (particularly cancer-related symptomatology) for patients, caregivers, and family members;
  3. Investigate the role of biobehavioral interactions in cancer prevention (particularly smoking behavior) in order to develop or enhance effective interventions to reduce the burden of cancer.