Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research

Researcher Biographies

The EPIC Center brings together scholars at the University of Pennsylvania from the Annenberg School for Communication, the Abramson Cancer Center, the School of Medicine and the Wharton School. These investigators represent a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds including communication science, medical science, health services research, epidemiology, public health, neuroscience, marketing research, and social, cognitive and clinical psychology.

Executive Committee
Katrina Armstrong, MD, MSCE
Joseph N. Cappella, PhD
Robert A. Hornik, PhD, Director
Caryn Lerman, PhD, Co-Director
J. Sanford (Sandy) Schwartz, MD

Research Directors
Laura Gibson, PhD
Sungkyoung Lee, PhD
Erin Maloney,Ph.D

Post Doctoral Fellows
Emily Brennan, PhD
Christine Skubisz, PhD

Investigators
Angie DeMichele, MD, MSCE
Carmen Guerra, MD, MS
Chris Jepson, PhD
James Loughead, PhD
Paul Messaris, PhD
Freda Patterson, PhD
Robert Schnoll, PhD
Andrew Strasser, PhD
Paul Wileyto, PhD
Yu-Ning Wong, MD, MSCE



Katrina Armstrong, MD, MSCE

karmstro@mail.med.upenn.edu

Dr. Armstrong is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Associate Director of the Abramson Cancer Center, Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. Dr. Armstrong is also the co-Program Leader of the Cancer Control Program at the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Armstrong is the past recipient of a Preventive Oncology Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute, a Clinical Research Training Grant from the American Cancer Society, a Young Investigator Award from the Department of Defense and a Generalist Faculty Scholar Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In recent years, she has received the Robert C. Witt Research Award for the best paper published by the American Risk and Insurance Association, the Outstanding Lecturer Award from the School of Medicine class of 2004, the Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award, the 2004 Society of General Internal Medicine Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year Award and the 2005 Alice Hersh Young Investigator Award from AcademyHealth. Dr. Armstrong was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation in 2006.

Dr. Armstrong’s research seeks to elucidate the complex relationship among the social environment, health care, and cancer outcomes. Her research has concentrated on several areas of critical policy importance including genetic testing for cancer susceptibility and racial disparities in cancer outcomes. Her research program has en funded by R01s from NCI and NHGRI, an NCI P50 in population health and health disparities, and a research scholar award from the American Cancer Society. She is a co-investigator on the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research Project “Patient-Clinician Information Exchange: Determinants and Effects on Health Behaviors and Outcomes” (Hornik PI) and involved in the training and mentoring of post-doctoral fellows in the CECCR. Her research findings have been published in many highly respected journals, including JAMA, the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Emily Brennan, PhD

Emily Brennan is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. She has worked in cancer-related behavioral research for more than six years, both as a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne and as a Research Officer at the Centre for Behavioral Research in Cancer at the Cancer Council Victoria, Australia. Her PhD research developed a model of the pathway of effects through which anti-smoking mass media campaigns lead to changes in smoking behaviour, and examined the contribution of interpersonal communication to this pathway of effects. Among the large number of tobacco-related projects that she worked on at the Cancer Council Victoria was a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a mass media campaign that supported the introduction of pictorial health warnings onto cigarette packets, and an ongoing project to monitor the volume and content of tobacco-related newspaper articles in Australian newspapers.

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Joseph N. Cappella, PhD

jcappella@asc.upenn.edu

Joseph N. Cappella (PhD, 1974, Michigan State University) is Professor of Communication and holds the Gerald R. Miller Chair at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is directing the message core at the CECCR, is co-PI with Caryn Lerman on a study of smoking cues in anti-smoking ads. He co-directs the Fellows program with Sandy Schwartz, MD. He has been a visiting professor at Northwestern University and a visiting scholar at Stanford University and the University of Arizona. He has lectured at more than 25 different universities including Duke, Harvard, University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins, University of Washington, Seoul National University and Ohio State University.

Dr. Cappella’s research has produced more than 100 articles and book chapters and four co-authored books focusing on political communication, health, social interaction, media effects and statistical methods. The articles have appeared in journals in psychology, communication, health and politics. Book credits include Echo Chamber (Oxford), Spiral of Cynicism (Oxford), Multivariate Techniques in Human Communication Research (Academic), and Sequence and Pattern in Communicative Behavior (Arnold). He has edited special issues of Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Communication Theory and Journal of Communication. His research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Science Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, The Twentieth Century Fund, and from the Markle, Ford, Carnegie, Pew, and Robert Wood Johnson foundations. He has served on the editorial boards of 15 different journals including Media Psychology, Communication Monographs, Social Psychology Quarterly, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Journal of Personal and Social Relationships, Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Human Communication Research and Communication Theory. He is an elected member of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center and the Leonard Davis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He is designated as a “Distinguished Scholar” by the National Communication Association, is a Fellow of the International Communication Association, a past president of ICA, and recipient of the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award. He is known on occasion to cook a mean pasta putanesca.

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John Christensen, PhD

John Christensen completed his PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Southern California where he was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship from the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program. Dr. Christensen has completed research training programs at the National Cancer Institute, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Institute for Creative Technologies, and the RAND Corporation. He has also served as a research consultant for CHI Systems and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Dr. Christensen’s research focuses on changing attitudes, emotions, and behavior through the use of interactive media. Along with colleagues at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, he built a virtual nightclub designed to prevent risky alcohol, drug, and sexual decisions among late adolescents (NIAID; Miller). Players encounter a series of challenging decision-points as they interact with artificially intelligent agents whose behavior is driven by computational models of health communication. In another line of work, Dr. Christensen collaborated with Exeter Media to develop a web-based virtual grocery store that communicates the risks of an unhealthy diet while providing players with an opportunity to practice making healthier food purchase decisions. Dr. Christensen also conducts research investigating message framing, message tailoring, LGBT health disparities, and the roles of emotion and individual difference constructs in persuasive communication.

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Angie DeMichele, MD, MSCE

dma@mail.med.upenn.edu

Dr. DeMichele is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She is currently Co-Director of the Breast Cancer Program of the Abramson Cancer Center, Associate Director of Clinical/Translational Research Training in the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program and Co-Leader of the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. DeMichele earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from Brown University, an M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine (as a Four Schools Physician/Scientist Scholar) and a Masters Degree in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania. She received her clinical training in Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, and joined the faculty in 2000 as a breast cancer oncologist and molecular epidemiologist whose research focuses on identifying markers of outcome, response to therapy and development of targeted therapeutics. She is currently the PI of numerous clinical trials and epidemiologic studies, including national co-PI of the I-SPY Trial, a multicenter study examining molecular and MRI imaging response profiles of patients receiving neoadjuvant therapy for locally-advanced breast and PI of an NCI-funded R01 examining pharmacogenomic and cytokine predictors of response to chemotherapy in E2190, an Intergroup/Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group trial. She directs Penn’s Breast Cancer Survivorship Program, a multidisciplinary clinical research program at the Abramson Cancer Center, where she and her colleagues are performing studies of bone loss, ovarian dysfunction, hot flashes, lymphedema, depression/distress and physical activity in breast cancer survivors. She is a past recipient of a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a Clinical Research Training Grant from the American Cancer Society and a Patient-Oriented Career Development Award from the NIH. Dr. DeMichele has served on the American Board of Internal Medicine Oncology Subspecialty Board, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and is currently Chair of the Medical Advisory Board of Expedition Inspiration.

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Laura Gibson

lgibson@asc.upenn.edu

Laura Gibson is the research director for the Philadelphia Anti-Smoking Campaign Project. She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University in 2006 where she studied the social information communicated through gait and taught statistics. Other research projects included a large online study of implicit racial attitudes, psychophysical studies of peripheral vision, and studies of the illusion of authorship. Prior to joining the Annenberg School for Communication, she worked as an evaluation consultant with TCC Group in Philadelphia. There she evaluated nonprofit organizations nationwide – from professional development training programs for school leaders, to capacity-building projects for health and human service organizations – and gave feedback on the quality of their programs. She is excited to be working in public health communication research which marries her interests in academia, applied research, and translating research findings for non-academic audiences.

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Carmen Guerra, MD, MS

carmen.guerra@uphs.upenn.edu

Dr. Carmen Guerra is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Guerra completed her M.D. at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and her internship and residency in internal medicine at the Strong Memorial Hospital. Dr. Guerra is board-certified internist and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Guerra's research focuses on colorectal cancer screening and prevention. She is the recipient of several NIH grants that have supported research to better understand and overcome barriers to physician recommendation of colorectal cancer screening. She is also the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to conduct a clinical trial to determine if curcumin is effective in the prevention of colorectal cancer. In 2004, Dr. Guerra received an AACR Minority Scholar Award in Cancer Research. Dr. Guerra is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society, Pennsylvania Division. Dr. Guerra is a reviewer for several peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr. Guerra teaches questionnaire design in the Health Services and Policy Research Methods course and multiple undergraduate, medical student and internal medicine resident seminars Dr. Guerra’s work has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has been presented at regional and national scientific meetings. Dr. Guerra is PI of a CECCR-supported project that will test the Acceptability, Feasibility, and Use of a Web-based intervention to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates.

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Robert A. Hornik, PhD, Director

rhornik@asc.upenn.edu

Robert Hornik is Wilbur Schramm Professor of Communication and Health Policy at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. His PhD is from Stanford University in communication theory and research. Dr. Hornik is currently the Director of the University of Pennsylvania's NCI-funded Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. Previously he was co-principal investigator and scientific director for the evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign and had led efforts to design or evaluate more than 25 large-scale public health communication and education programs. These projects include evaluations of national AIDS education programs in developing countries, and of communication for child survival programs in ten developing countries, and evaluations of two anti-domestic violence prevention interventions in the United States. He is author of the book Development Communication, co-author of Toward Reform of Program Evaluation and Educational Reform with Television: El Salvador Experience and is the editor of Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change. Dr. Hornik has served as a member of four National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine committees, has won the Andreasen Scholar award in social marketing, and the Fisher Mentorship award from the International Communication Association.

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Chris Jepson, PhD

Christopher Jepson, , is a Biostatistician at the University of Pennsylvania's Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC). Dr. Jepson has a background in social cognition and 22 years of research experience in health behavior, with a focus on cancer prevention. He has served as Principal Investigator on a project examining determinants of repeat adherence to mammography, and as Co-Investigator on a project studying racial differences in breast cancer screening knowledge and behavior among urban public school teachers.

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Sojung Claire Kim, PhD

sckim@asc.upenn.edu

Sojung Claire Kim (Ph.D. 2011, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her doctorate in Mass Communications with minors in Business and in Educational Psychology (Quantitative Methods & Statistics Focus) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her M.A. in Telecommunications from Indiana University-Bloomington and her B.A. in Mass Communications and in Education from Korea University. Her research interests mainly lie on intersections of new interactive media, health communication, and social marketing. During her graduate studies at UW, she was actively involved in the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS) and the Mass Communication Research Center (MCRC). This research experience enables her to develop programs of research that result in published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Patient Education and Counseling and New Media & Society, a book chapter, and over 18 conference papers. Sojung has been elected Student Board Member of the International Communication Association (ICA) for 2011-13 years, a recipient of the Louise Elizabeth George Fellowship from the UW School of Journalism and Mass Communication for 2010-11 years, and a recipient of the Honored Instructor Award from the Academic Initiative of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her professional experience includes work for the Korean Broadcasting System (New York Bureau) as an associate director and for the Dongbu Brand Consulting Company as a marketing analyst.

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Sungkyoung Lee, PhD

sklee@asc.upenn.edu

Sungkyoung Lee, PhD, received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from CheonBuk National University in Korea. She earned her PhD (a dual degree from Dept. of Telecommunications and the Cognitive Science Program) from Indiana University at Bloomington, IN. Sungkyoung’s research is grounded in the practice of applying theory to the study of the processes and effects of mass media from a social scientific perspective. She is especially interested in how structures and content of media messages influence people’s emotional responses, cognitive processes and motivated cognition. Sungkyoung’s research questions are theory-driven and applicable to various types of mediated messages (e.g., public health, news, advertisements, and political campaigns) over different forms of media (e.g., television, internet, and radio).

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Caryn Lerman, PhD, Co-Director

clerman@mail.med.upenn.edu

Dr. Lerman is Mary W. Calkins Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Annenberg Public Policy Center. She is also Scientific Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. As the Principal Investigator of the Penn Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, her research focuses on nicotine dependence pharmacogenetics and medication development. In addition, as Co-Director of the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, she studies the effectiveness of anti-tobacco media communication and the biobehavioral mechanisms through which media exposure influences persuasion. Dr. Lerman is presently a member of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research at NIH and is a former member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors. She has contributed over 270 peer-reviewed papers to the scientific literature and has received awards from the Society of Behavioral Medicine, American Psychological Association, American Society of Preventive Oncology, Alton Ochsner Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

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James Loughead, PhD

loughead@upenn.edu

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Erin Maloney,PhD

Erin Maloney is the research director for the Message Core in the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication at Michigan State University, where she specialized in health communication, persuasion, and quantitative research methods. Prior to joining the Annenberg School for Communication, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Erin’s research addresses mediated and interpersonal health and risk communication that influences cancer screening and treatment decision-making.

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Paul Messaris, PhD

pmessaris@asc.upenn.edu

Paul Messaris (A.B., Princeton University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is Lev Kuleshov Professor of Communication. Before joining the faculty of the Annenberg School, he taught at Queens College, CUNY. At Annenberg, he served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies from 1995 to 1999. Messaris teaches and does research in the area of visual communication. His publications have dealt with viewers' interpretations of images ("Visual 'Literacy': Image, Mind, and Reality," winner of the National Communication Association's Diamond Anniversary Book Award in 1996); viewers' responses to the formal devices of advertising and other types of visual persuasion or manipulation ("Visual Persuasion: The Use of Images in Advertising," 1998); and ways in which the media have been affected by the advent of computers ("Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication," in press, co-edited with Lee Humphreys). His most recent research deals with digital special effects in fiction film, and he is working on a book about viewers' reactions to the style and content of movies. In 2001, Messaris was the recipient of the Annenberg Undergraduate Communication Society's Best Teacher Award. In addition to working with communication and cinema studies majors, he serves on the executive committee of the Digital Media Design major, an interdisciplinary program devoted to advanced computer media, and involving the Schools of Engineering, Fine Arts, and Annenberg. At Annenberg he has supervised the development of the Visual Communication Laboratory for undergraduates, devoted to exploring the relationship between feature-film production and scholarly studies of movies.

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Freda Patterson, PhD

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Robert Schnoll, PhD

schnoll@mail.med.upenn.edu

Dr. Schnoll is an Associate Professor at the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania where he directs an independent and collaborative research program designed to evaluate methods for improving treatments for tobacco dependence. After receiving his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Rhode Island in 1998, Dr. Schnoll completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Prevention and Control at Fox Chase Cancer Center and remained there as a faculty member in the Division of Population Science until September, 2005, when he moved to his current position at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schnoll’s research focuses on the study of new methods for treating tobacco dependence, the examination of novel ways to use existing treatments for tobacco dependence to improve their efficacy, and the study of issues relevant to smoking cessation clinical trials. Dr. Schnoll has conducted behavioral, physician-based, and pharmacological clinical trials clinical trials for smoking cessation among cancer patients.

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J. Sanford (Sandy) Schwartz, MD

schwartz@wharton.upenn.edu

J. Sanford (Sandy) Schwartz, M.D. is Leon Hess Professor of Medicine and Health Management and Economics at the School of Medicine and The Wharton School, Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Policy and Economics and Senior Scholar at the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania.Dr. Schwartz has served as advisor and consultant to a wide range of public and private sector groups, including federal and international agencies, non–profit groups, pharmaceutical, insurance and managed care organizations; and several state health departments and regulatory agencies. He was founding Director or the American College of Physicians’ Clinical Efficacy Assessment Project (the medical profession’s first evidence-based guideline program), president of the American Federation of Clinical Research and the Society for Medical Decision Making, founding editor of the American Journal of Managed Care, associate editor (health services research and policy) Journal of General Internal Medicine and on the editorial board of Medical Decision Making. Dr. Schwartz is a member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, National Institute of Health Heart Lung and Blood Institute Adult Treatment Panel IV National Cholesterol Education Program (ATP IV/NCEP) and Integrated Cardiovascular Disease guidelines development committees, National Blue Cross and Blue Shield Associations Medical Advisory Panel, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC), American Heart Association Disease Management Committee and Reimbursement, Coverage and Access Policy Development Workgroup and the ECRI Institute Board of Directors. Dr. Schwartz was the first recipient of the Samuel P. Martin Health Services Research Award and is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, American Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of American Professors and American Clinical and Climatological Association. He has received numerous teaching awards, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Former co–director of Penn’s Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program Sandy directs or codirects several institutional NIH health services research and clinical epidemiology training grants, and is a frequent health services research faculty career mentor. Former Executive Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (Penn's University-wide center for health services and policy research), Dr. Schwartz is a clinically oriented health services researcher focusing on assessment of medical interventions and practices (with an emphasis on cost-quality tradeoffs and health care disparities), medical decision making and the adoption and diffusion of medical innovation.

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Christine Skubisz, PhD

cskubisz@asc.upenn.edu

Christine Skubisz is a post doctoral fellow in the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research. She completed her PhD in communication theory and research at the University of Maryland. Dr. Skubisz’s research examines issues of risk perception and risk communication in health contexts, including how to present risk information to facilitate comprehension and use. She is particularly interested in the development and application of communication theory to problems in health domains and how individuals process and use numeric and non-numeric sources of information when making decisions. Her work appears in Health Communication, the Journal of Cancer Education, Communication Yearbook, and the Routledge Handbook of Health Communication.

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Andrew Strasser, PhD

strasse3@mail.med.upenn.edu

Andrew A. Strasser, PhD, is Research Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC). Dr. Strasser completed his PhD in Biobehavioral Health (2002) from the Pennsylvania State University, focusing on individual differences in smoking harm and behavior, including assessment of smoking topography (a quantified measure of how people smoke, that includes puff volume and velocity). In 2002, he was recruited as a post-doctoral fellow at the Penn TTURC, where he conducts research seeking to understand the psychophysiological and biobehavioral basis of nicotine addiction, and the mechanisms of effectiveness of pharmacotherapies for tobacco dependence. Current research includes testing the effects of switching to new low nicotine cigarettes and potentially reduced exposure products (PREPs) on smoking topography and carcinogen exposure. In addition, he collaborates with Penn's Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research on experimental analysis of the effectiveness of anti-tobacco advertisements. Recently, Dr. Strasser has published on the experimental evaluation of anti-tobacco PSAs in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, and the effect of advertisement manipulation on beliefs about PREPs risk in a special issue of Tobacco Control.

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Paul Wileyto, PhD

epw@mail.med.upenn.edu

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Yu-Ning Wong, MD, M.S.C.E.

yu-ning.wong@fccc.edu

Yu-Ning Wong is an attending physician in Fox Chase Cancer Center's department of medical oncology and holds a dual appointment as an associate member of the Center's divisions of medical science and population science. Her clinical interests include genitourinary malignancies such as kidney, bladder, prostate and testicular cancers. Wong also conducts health services research including cost-effectiveness analysis and research on treatment outcomes. A board-certified medical oncologist, Dr. Wong joined the Fox Chase medical staff in July 2005 after completing a three-year ellowship in hematology and oncology at the Fox Chase-Temple Cancer Center. Wong has a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from the University of Virginia and an M.D. from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Piscataway, N.J. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Wong also has a master's of science degree in clinical epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania

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