Pediatric Oncology Population Sciences

The Program in Population Sciences includes faculty members and trainees whose research focuses broadly on aspects of health care delivery, outcomes research, and health care quality. The program leverages relationships with the McGraw-Patterson Center for Population Sciences at Dana-Farber and the Division of Population Sciences within Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber, and includes research focuses on health communication, ethics, health equity, survivorship, and palliative care, among other areas.

The goal of the Program in Population Sciences is to improve care quality and outcomes for children with cancer and blood disorders through research on health care delivery and its outcomes, and by training the next generation of investigators in the field.

Activities in Our Department

Areas of focus include aspects of health care delivery and outcomes research such as:

  • Health Equity
  • Survivorship
  • Palliative Care
  • Health Communication
  • Medical Education
  • Health Care Quality
  • Ethics

Many faculty are affiliated with additional research and clinical programs, such as the Survivorship Program, Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, the Cancer Risk Program, and Medical Oncology's Division of Population Sciences.

Health Equity

Kira Bona, MD MPH, investigates outcome disparities in pediatric cancer with a focus on improving health equity by:

  • Identifying both socio-behavioral and physiological mechanisms linking social determinants of health and inferior disease and patient-reported outcomes
  • Developing scalable supportive care and health care delivery interventions to eliminate outcome disparities.

Cancer Survivorship

The research interests of Lisa Kenney, MD, relate to the long-term health and well-being of childhood cancer survivors including reproductive health; risk factors for secondary malignancy; and, more recently, evaluating and optimizing health care delivery to childhood cancer survivors.

Christopher Recklitis PhD, MPH, Director of Research and Support Services for the Perini Family Survivors' Center at Dana-Farber, is a clinical psychologist focused on understanding behavioral and quality-of-life outcomes in AYA (adolescent and young adult) cancer survivors. His areas of interest include validating PRO measures, and developing interventions to improve fatigue, insomnia, and sun protection in cancer survivors. His prospective longitudinal study, Project REACH, includes outcome data on 600 locally treated survivors of pediatric cancers.

Eric Zhou, PhD, conducts research on development and implementation of evidence-based interventions for sleep disorders in cancer patients and survivors.

Health Care Quality

Maya Ilowite, MD, MPH, is Medical Director of Quality Improvement and Patient Safety for Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and Associate Medical Director of Quality and Patient Safety for Dana-Farber. Her work focuses on developing strategies to deliver safe and high-quality pediatric cancer care both in the hospital/clinic and in the home. Specifically, she works to engage families and patients to help support them in performing complex medical tasks at home, preventing infections and medication errors.

Pediatric Palliative Care

Angela Feraco, MD, MMSc, studies communication and team dynamics of pediatric oncology and pediatric palliative care teams. The goal of this research is to enhance quality of life for children starting in the initial months of cancer care, when many receive intensive treatments.

The research interests of Jennifer Snaman, MD, MS, include decision-making and communication needs in adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with advanced cancer, with an aim to improve goal-concordant care in this population. She is also interested in understanding the early grief experience of parents following the death of a child from cancer and developing interventions aimed at improving support for this population to mitigate negative short- and long-term psychosocial outcomes.

Christina Ullrich, MD MPH, is currently investigating the palliative care needs and patient-reported outcomes of children who undergo intensive and restorative care such as HSCT.

The NIH-funded research program of Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH, is aimed at easing suffering and enhancing wellbeing in children with serious illness and their families. She currently leads the multicentered PediQUEST Response Trial, aimed at improving quality of life in children with advanced cancer through e-PROMS and early integration of palliative care, and co-leads the Pediatric Palliative Care Research Network SHARE Project, which prospectively collects PROMs from families receiving specialty palliative care. Wolfe also co-leads the multinational Pediatric Palliative Care Research Network, which fosters collaboration and support of early career faculty. She is a committed mentor for several investigators in pediatric palliative care research.

Improving Health Outcomes

The research of Lindsay Frazier, MD, ScM, centers on four areas relevant to Population Sciences:

  • Germ cell tumors: Building an international consortium, one function of which is a data commons that supports clinical and translational trial development, health outcomes, and survivorship research
  • Global pediatric oncology: Strengthening childhood cancer data systems through work on cancer registration, such as building the new National Childhood Cancer Registry and implementing cancer registration in low- and middle-income countries; increasing access to essential medicines through development of a forecasting tool to be used in health systems for assessing quantity and cost of treatment of the 16 most common pediatric cancers
  • Supportive care in clinical oncology: Otoprotection, rationalizing supportive care guidelines
  • AYA Oncology: Optimizing care and strengthening research at Dana-Farber and nationally

The work of Christine Duncan, MD, has two major focuses — treating children with rare inherited disorders, and decreasing the long-term effects of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and gene therapy. The overarching goal of her work is to make cellular therapy safer and more accessible for all patients.

Health Communication

The research of Katie Greenzang, MD, EdM, focuses on patient-provider communication and decision-making for children with cancer, specifically communication and decision-making about late effects of cancer therapy and childhood cancer survivorship.

The research group of Jennifer Mack, MD, MPH, studies patient-physician communication and health care delivery in pediatric oncology. Her work is aimed at improving experiences of care and outcomes for children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer across the cancer care continuum — from diagnosis to survivorship or the end of life.

The research of Jonathan Marron, MD, MPH, examines the intersection of ethics and decision-making, integrating features of health services, clinical genomics, informed consent, equity, and medical uncertainty. Much of Marron's current work focuses on patient, parent, and physician decision-making regarding pediatric precision cancer medicine, with supplementary work examining concepts such as moral distress, pediatric decision-making, and allocation of scarce resources. He also teaches medical ethics to medical students and graduate students through his role as teaching faculty at Harvard Medical School's Center for Bioethics.