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Phyllis F. Cantor Center for Research in Nursing and Patient Care Services

  • Cantor Center staff members - 2

    Phyllis F. Cantor Center staff

  • To our community,

    As all of our lives are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue our dedication to conduct research focused on the patient/family experience of living with and beyond cancer, and those at risk for cancer. While we are physically separated, our coordinated team science approach feels more tightly knitted than ever. Current studies are continuing in the capacity they can – some with new unique technology-based approaches. In addition, we are working on future research targets to begin in the world that will emerge following this impactful event on humankind. Together we will persevere.

    As a Center, we are dedicated to excellence in our work and committed to providing evidence-based research findings to improve patient/family care, experiences, and outcomes.

    In good health,
    The Cantor Center

    The mission of the Cantor Center is to reduce the burden of cancer through scholarly inquiry and rigorous research. The focus of the Center's research is the patient/family experience of living with a predisposition to or diagnosis of cancer, as well as survivorship issues post-treatment.

    A focused mission

    The Cantor Center's efforts focus on three major areas:

    1. conducting innovative research on quality of life and quality of care for cancer patients and families;
    2. engaging nurses and other Dana-Farber patient care staff in research; and
    3. promoting the use of research evidence to ensure that patient care is of the highest standards.

    Research themes

    Nurse Scientists Mary Cooley, PhD, APRN, BC, FAAN, Marilyn Hammer, PhD, DC, RN, FAAN, Robert Knoerl, PhD, RN, Meghan Underhill-Blazey, PhD, APRN, AOCNS, and Donna Berry, PhD, RN, AOCNS, FAAN, conduct a variety of research studies from understanding biological mechanisms to treatment decision-making and symptom science. These researchers engage direct care nurses, post-doctoral fellows, and students at Dana-Farber and other collaborating institutions in research relevant to their fields of expertise, thereby creating a direct link between science and practice.

    Hammer, the newly appointed director of the Cantor Center, conducts a program of research dedicated to understanding associations between glycemic biosignatures and immune function in patients with cancer, including how these mechanisms impact risks for adverse events and outcomes. In alignment with precision health targets, findings from these investigations will lead to tailored interventions for improved patient experiences and outcomes.

    Cooley is leading the development of a decision support system related to enhancing adequate management of pain within a home care hospice setting. She is also studying implementation of a systems-level tobacco treatment intervention into a thoracic oncology practice setting.

    Knoerl is working to develop and test supportive care interventions to address the critical need for non-pharmacological treatments for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Knoerl also focuses on improving the identification of patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and subsequent implementation of recommended treatments in practice.

    Underhill-Blazey's research focuses on understanding and improving the experience of individuals at high risk for cancer due to personal or familial factors. She is leading work to promote health and wellness in individuals with risk for breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer, as well as Hodgkin Lymphoma.

    Berry, director of the Cantor Center from 2008-2018, leads research on improving cancer symptom management by enhancing self-care, patient-clinician communication, and cancer treatment decision making. In her current role she is mentoring post-doctoral fellows focused on symptom science.


    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Magnet institution, is part of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, the country's largest NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As such, the abundant resources of this research-intensive, state-of-the-art oncology care facility are available to the successful applicant. Formal networking and joint appointments with schools of nursing in the area promote a community of cancer nursing scholars with opportunities for collaboration.

    The Cantor Center also supports the training of three Post-Doctoral Fellows:

    The UMass Boston - Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center U54 Cancer Research Partnership
    2019-2021 Fellow Ijeoma Eche, PhD, FNP-BC, AOCNP, CPHON, BMT-CN

    Mittelman Integrative Therapies Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
    2019-2021 Fellow Carolyn Phillips, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, AOCNP

    American Cancer Society Research Fellowship
    2019-2021 Fellow Rachel Pozzar, PhD, RN, FNP-BC