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National Cancer Institute
Behavioral Research - Cancer Control and Population Sciences

Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch (BBPSB)

Key Initiatives: NCI Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer

National Cancer Institute - Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer



The National Cancer Institute Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer Request for Proposals (RFP), Issued by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. (S14-075) is closed as of April 2, 2014. The RFP collected novel small scale pilot project proposals to advance the knowledge of molecular pathways that link psychological, behavioral, or social factors to cancer biology. These projects will inform further research opportunities to develop effective interventions and improve clinical outcomes. Future submission dates will be communicated on this page as well as the NCI Office of Acquisitions portal.

Seeking novel small scale pilot projects to advance the mission of the NCI Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer (RFP # S14-075), PDF 2014

Network Steering Committee

Network Members & Project Descriptions


The NCI Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer (NBBPC) accelerates the translation and communication of biobehavioral discoveries to advance clinical cancer care. The Network seeks to understand the mechanisms of central nervous system regulation of cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis. NBBPC leverages and integrates expertise in cancer biology, stress biology, cell biology neuroscience, health behavior, psychology, social science and oncology.


The Network fosters research excellence through the integration and dissemination of relevant scientific discoveries and the identification, support, and communication of new research directions in the field of biobehavioral pathways in cancer.

Network Priorities

  • Facilitate research innovation and progress
  • Promote high quality basic, clinical and translational research
  • Stimulate and promote research collaborations
  • Cultivate research careers of junior investigators interested in biobehavioral pathways in cancer

Heuristic framework for research on biobehavioral risk factor influences on clinical cancer course.

Heuristic framework for research on biobehavioral risk factor influences on clinical cancer course.
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Green McDonald, P., O’Connell, M., & Lutgendorf, S.K. (2013). Psychoneuroimmunology and cancer: A decade of discovery, paradigm shifts, and methodological innovations. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 30, S1-S9.


Network Steering Committee

Linda Alexander, PhDLinda Alexander, PhD
Associate Professor of Health Behavior
University of Kentucky College of Public Health

Steve Cole, PhDSteve Cole, PhD
Associate Professor
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles

Steven Cole is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the UCLA School of Medicine. His research maps the molecular pathways by which social and environmental factors influence the activity of human, viral, and tumor genomes. He pioneered the introduction of functional genomics approaches into social and behavioral research, and has mapped the signal transduction pathways by which neural factors enhance replication of HIV-1 and HHV-8 viruses, alter expression of immune response genes such as IL-6 and Interferon-beta, and up-regulate expression of pro-metastatic genes by human breast and ovarian cancer cells. His research uses computational modeling strategies to identify the transcription factors that mediate social environmental influences on gene expression and the genetic polymorphisms that modify those effects to create Gene x Environment interactions. Dr. Cole is member of the NCI Network on Biobehavioral Pathways in Cancer, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, the UCLA AIDS Institute, the UCLA Molecular Biology Institute, and an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Susan K. Lutgendorf, PhDSusan K. Lutgendorf, PhD
Professor & Starch Faculty Fellow
Department of Psychology
University of Iowa

Susan Lutgendorf, PhD is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Urology, a member of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a Faculty Scholar and Starch Faculty Fellow at the University of Iowa. She received her PhD in Clinical Health Psychology from the University of Miami and completed her post-doctoral training at the University of Iowa Center on Aging, supported by a National Research Service Award post-doctoral fellowship from the NIH. Dr. Lutgendorf current work, funded by the National Cancer Institute, examines how factors such as stress, depression, and social support are linked to biological processes involved in angiogenesis, inflammation, and recurrence in ovarian cancer patients. Dr. Lutgendorf serves on the editorial boards of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Psychological Bulletin, Health Psychology and Psychosomatic Medicine and on the Scientific Council of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Dr. Lutgendorf's work has been recognized by a New Investigator Award from the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society in 2004, an Early Career Award from the American Psychosomatic Society in 2002 and by an award from the American Psychological Association, Division 38 for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology in the year 2000. She currently serves as a core member of the National Cancer Institute Biobehavioral Research Network and as the President of the American Psychosomatic Society. She is a former member of the Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotions, Stress, and Health (MESH) Study Section at NIH.

Paige McDonald, PhD, M.P.H.Paige McDonald, PhD, MPH
Basic Biobehavioral and Psychological Sciences Branch
National Cancer Institute

Anil K. Sood, M.D.Anil K. Sood, MD
Director, Professor
Dept. of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Anil K. Sood is Professor and Vice Chair for Translational Research in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology and co-director of the Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. He is also Director of the multi-disciplinary Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program. Dr. Sood received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His research is focused in three main areas: 1) effects of neuroendocrine stress hormones on ovarian cancer growth and progression, 2) development of new strategies for in vivo siRNA delivery, and 3) development of novel anti-vascular therapeutic approaches. Dr. Sood has received major recognition for his research accomplishments including the Hunter Award, the Margaret Greenfield/Carmel Cohen Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Prize, and the GCF/Claudia Cohen Research Foundation Prize for Outstanding Gynecologic Cancer Researcher. Dr. Sood has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and has authored and co-authored several book chapters, and he serves on the editorial board for several journals and as a reviewer for many others. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS.

Network Members & Project Descriptions

Michael H. Antoni, PhDMichael H. Antoni, PhD
University of Miami

Dr. Michael Antoni, PhD is Sylvester Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Program Leader of the Biobehavioral Oncology multidisciplinary research program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC), and a licensed psychologist in the State of Florida. Since he joined the University in 1987, Dr. Antoni has received extensive extramural support from NIH and published over 400 journal articles, books, book chapters and abstracts on studies testing the effects of stress factors, social resources and stress management interventions on psychological adjustment, biological processes, and clinical health outcomes in chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and breast, prostate and cervical neoplasias. Dr. Antoni received the Early Career Research Awards from the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the American Psychological Association, and is a Fellow in the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Antoni has for the past 10 years served as Associate Editor for two interdisciplinary behavioral medicine journals: International Journal of Behavioral Medicine and Psychology and Health, and has served on the Editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.

Network Project Description: Dr. Antoni's Network project is an extensive follow-up of a randomized controlled trial that aimed to test the effects of a group-based cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM) intervention vs psychoeducational control on clinical disease endpoints over an extended time in women initially treated for non-metastatic breast cancer. His project will examine whether specific biobehavioral and psychological adaptation processes modified by the intervention in the first year of medical treatment predict differences in clinical endpoints (e.g., survival and recurrence) up to 13 years later.

Erin Costanzo, PhDErin Costanzo, PhD
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Dr. Costanzo is a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She is a clinical health psychologist specializing in the care and treatment of individuals coping with cancer and their family members. Dr. Costanzo's research focuses on contributions of psychosocial factors to the health and well-being of cancer patients, and the biobehavioral pathways underlying these relationships, with the translational goal of developing targeted behavioral interventions for individuals with cancer. This work draws on her background in behavioral medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, and cancer control, and benefits from close, multidisciplinary collaborations.

Network Project Description: Dr. Costanzo's project examines gene expression patterns of CD14+ cells as a potential pathway by which stress-related psychosocial factors may influence immune recovery and clinical outcomes following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The study focuses on multiple myeloma and lymphoma patients recovering from autologous HSCT, given evidence for the role of CD14+ derived macrophages in immune recovery as well as angiogenesis, apoptosis, and production of disease-promoting cytokines in this population. The primary aim is to examine the relationship of stress-related psychosocial factors with gene expression patterns of CD14+ cells. The proposed research will help define new molecular mechanisms of biobehavioral influences in the development and progression of hematologic malignancies.

Naomi Eisenberger, PhDNaomi Eisenberger, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Naomi Eisenberger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at UCLA and the Jeffrey/Wenzel Term Chair in Behavioral Neuroscience. Dr. Eisenberger specializes in social neurocognitive aspects of emotion and behavior. Her primary line of research utilizes neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neural correlates of social rejection and social connection. Through this line of research, she has demonstrated that the experience of social rejection relies, in part, on physical pain-related neural regions and that the experience of social connection relies, in part, on reward-related neural regions. Her work also examines the bidirectional relationships between sensitivity to social rejection and inflammatory activity, which may have implications for depression. Findings have demonstrated that greater social pain-related neural activity in response to social rejection is associated with greater inflammatory responding and that inflammatory activity can lead to increases in felt social disconnection and greater social pain-related neural activity in response to rejection. Dr. Eisenberger, who received her PhD in 2005, has published more than 70 papers including articles in top tier journals (Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Neuroscience). Her work has also been recognized with several early career awards included ones from the American Psychological Association, the American Psychosomatic Society, the Association for Psychological Science, and the International Union of Psychological Science.

Network Project Description: In Dr. Eisenberger's project, she will utilize her expertise in social and affective neuroscience to broaden the understanding of fMRI-based research on behavioral probe paradigms and empirical neural activity correlates of social support, attachment, affiliation and related psychological constructs. Her work will set the stage to identify specific psychological/neurobiological pathways that might mediate relationships between social support/attachment and Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) activity in humans.

Don Lamkin, PhDDon Lamkin, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Lamkin is a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He received his PhD in Health Psychology from the University of Iowa. While completing his PhD, Dr. Lamkin examined pathways among behavioral stress, immunological mechanisms, and cancer biology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Iowa. At that time, Dr. Lamkin also investigated the reverse effect that cancer can have on stress-related factors by developing a preclinical model of cancer-induced inflammation-mediated depression. He and his colleagues published results that showed experimentally-induced cancer can increase levels of systemic proinflammatory IL-6 and behavioral homologues of depression that can be blocked with antidepressants. At UCLA, Dr. Lamkin has continued to develop preclinical models of cancer and biobehavioral factors. Using a preclinical xenograft model of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Dr. Lamkin and his colleagues found that stressor-activated β-adrenergic circuits can accelerate leukemia tumor burden and dissemination.

Network Project Description: Dr. Lamkin's project examines a potential downstream mechanism by which β-adrenergic signaling regulates stress-induced acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Specifically, an orthotopic mouse model of human leukemia is used to elucidate the role of the CXCR4-CXCL12 chemokine system in stress-enhanced leukemia progression.

Tor Wager, PhDTor Wager, PhD
University of Colorado, Boulder

Dr. Wager is the director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in cognitive psychology in 2003, and served as an Assistant and Associate Professor at Columbia University from 2004-2009. In 2010, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has a deep interest in how thinking influences affective experiences, affective learning, and brain-body communication. Dr. Wager places particular emphasis on the development and deployment of analytic methods, and has developed publically available software toolboxes for fMRI analysis, including optimized experimental design, multi-level mediation, change-point analysis, machine learning, and meta-analysis. He believes that collaborative development and open sharing of tools and data are critical ingredients in the advancement of human neuroscience.

Network Project Description: This project will provide a targeted literature review of fMRI-based research on brain stem control of sympathetic nervous system activity, and its regulation by higher brain (e.g., cortical) regions. The review will specifically identify cortical and sub-cortical brain ROIs and the relevant fMRI probe paradigm tasks suitable for use in subsequent studies relating social support to SNS activation. The review will be delivered in the form of an interactive wiki page. The primary illustration will be a 3-dimensional brain image/cartoon with hyperlinks of brain ROIs that are involved in autonomic nervous system activation in response to stressors.

Last Updated: May 15, 2014

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