Phyllis F. Cantor Center Staff Profiles
Marilyn J. Hammer, PhD, DC, RN, FAAN
Dr. Hammer has dedicated her program of research to understanding associations between glycemic status, metabolism, and immune function in patients with cancer, including how these mechanisms impact risks for poor symptom experiences and outcomes. In alignment with precision health targets, the goals based on findings from these investigations are to develop a symptom risk assessment tool and design individually tailored interventions for improved symptom management and outcomes. In addition, Dr. Hammer has published a body of work related to precision health and associated ethical, legal, and social implications. She has presented her work nationally and globally, including countries in North and South America, Europe, and China.
Dr. Hammer obtained her graduate degrees from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Prior to assuming her role at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in September 2019, she was a faculty member at the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing and then became the first Director of Research and Evidence Based Practice at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Dr. Hammer is a Fellow in both the American Academy of Nursing and the New York Academy of Medicine.
Mary Cooley, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Cooley completed her doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her program of research focuses on improving cancer symptom management through clinical decision support and enhancing healthy behaviors through multiple risk reduction interventions focused on smoking cessation, increased physical activity, healthy diet, and cancer screening. She has had continuous funding for her research for the past two decades. She recently received the American Association for Cancer Research - Johnson & Johnson Lung Cancer Innovation Science grant, focused on testing a digital intervention for high-risk smokers to enhance lung health and a grant from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network/AstraZeneca focused on optimizing the process and uptake of lung cancer screening among patients, providers, and across the health care system. She has served on a number of scientific review committees and is currently the Chairperson for the Cancer Care Delivery Research Committee for NRG Oncology, and a member of the National Cancer Institute Cancer Care Delivery Steering Committee.
Tamryn Gray, PhD, RN, MPH
Dr. Gray is a nurse scientist in health services at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School within the Division of Adult Palliative Care. She employs mixed methods, population-based data, and implementation science to investigate the complex medical, decisional, psychosocial, and socio-epidemiological factors influencing care delivery and health outcomes for patients with serious illness and their family caregivers. She is particularly interested in developing solutions that spur health system and policy changes to leverage patient-family centered care, palliative care, and care transitions as innovation points to improve health outcomes, health equity, quality, and costs. Additionally, she holds a clinical-administrative role in Dana-Farber's Division of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapies. Dr. Gray earned her BSN and MSN from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MPH from Harvard University, and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar.
Rachel Pozzar, PhD, RN, FNP-BC
Dr. Pozzar is a nurse scientist and an Instructor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Harvard Medical School. Grounded in principles of decision science, communication science, and symptom science, Dr. Pozzar’s program of research aims to develop and test strategies to deliver patient-centered care to people with gynecologic cancers and their caregivers. Dr. Pozzar is especially interested in the use of human-centered design to develop mHealth interventions that promote patient-centered communication and improve patient-reported outcomes. In 2021, Dr. Pozzar received a National Palliative Care Research Center Kornfeld Scholars Program Award to develop and pilot test a collaborative agenda-setting intervention for patients with advanced ovarian cancer, their caregivers, and their clinicians. Previously, Dr. Pozzar has received research funding from the American Cancer Society and the Society for Medical Decision Making/Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. She is currently the Vice-Chair of the Early Career Special Interest Group for the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science. Dr. Pozzar received her PhD from Northeastern University, her MSN from Boston College, and her BSN from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Terri Jabaley, PhD, RN
Clinical Inquiry Specialist
Dr. Jabaley joined the Cantor Center in 2017 as a Clinical Inquiry Specialist focusing on improving patient outcomes through research and evidence-based practice implementation. As an award-winning nurse educator with over 20 years of experience as an Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, she has a broad experience in clinical oncology, palliative care, education, and research. Her original research focusing on cancer-related genomics arose from observations of the challenges patients and families face related to a genetic predisposition to cancer. Her current work centers on cancer symptom management. She has received internal and external funding for her research and evidence-based practice projects and received the 2020 Evidence-Based Practice Award from the Eastern Nursing Research Society. She has published and presented her work locally, nationally, and internationally.
Ijeoma Eche, PhD, FNP-BC, AOCNP, CPHON, BMT-CN
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Dr. Eche’s program of research is focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of factors that impact health-related quality-of-life in children with cancer, as well as psychosocial adaptation of parents of children with cancer. Her fellowship is jointly sponsored by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and University of Massachusetts/Boston College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
Meghan Underhill-Blazey, PhD, RN, AOCNS
Nurse Practitioner, Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention
Dr. Underhill-Blazey has dedicated her research to understanding and intervening with some of our most vulnerable individuals, those at high risk for cancer and notably, the underserved at risk. She has combined her passion for advancing oncology nursing research with her background as a Family Nurse Practitioner practicing in cancer genetics. Her research has always focused where she has seen the greatest clinical need — promoting health and wellness in the context of cancer care. In her current role, Dr. Underhill-Blazey serves as a co-investigator with Dr. Mary Cooley on a project funded by AACR focused on smoking cessation. Specifically, Dr. Underhill-Blazey is contributing her methods and genetics expertise to this work.
Robert Knoerl, PhD, RN
Robert Knoerl’s program of research aims to identify and develop integrative oncology approaches to improve the assessment and management of cancer treatment-related toxicities, such as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. To date, Dr. Knoerl has tested interventions such as cognitive behavioral pain management, yoga, and music therapy in prospective clinical trials for the management of a variety of cancer treatment-related symptoms. He most recently received a K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research. The purpose of the K23 study is to determine mechanisms and measures of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in adolescents and young adults receiving neurotoxic chemotherapy. Robert received postdoctoral training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (2017-2019) and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s BSN (2014) and PhD (2017) nursing programs.
Carolyn Phillips, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, AOCNP
Dr. Phillips’ clinical and research experiences cover the cancer continuum from prevention, treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life care. Her research interests are under the umbrella of psychosocial stress and the well-being of those affected by cancer. She is currently examining the effect of storytelling through music upon caregiver well-being by increasing self-awareness of their emotional experience, their empathetic response to patient suffering, and their workplace environment.
Barbara Halpenny, MA
Research Project Director
Manan Nayak, PhD
Senior Project Director
Rebecca Tsai, MS
Erica Fox, MEd, RN
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Research Coordinator
Clinical Research Coordinator