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Cella Named Chair of New Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine

David Cella will head the new department, which will focus on health measurement, quality of life measures, outcomes science and statistical tools used to support clinical research.

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March 18, 2009
CHICAGO – A top researcher on how to measure outcomes among cancer patients and the quality of life for patients in medical clinical trials has been named chair of a newly created Department of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

David Cella, 53, will head the new department, which will focus on health measurement, quality of life measures, outcomes science and statistical tools used to support clinical research, said Dr. J. Larry Jameson, Northwestern vice president for medical affairs and the Lewis Landsberg Dean of Feinberg.

"This new department reflects our growing interest in translational research and developing robust approaches for measuring clinical outcomes. Its faculty will have extensive collaboration within Feinberg and throughout the University and will contribute to the planning and delivery of the medical school curriculum," Dr. Jameson said. "We're very fortunate to have someone of David Cella's stature and expertise to lead the new department."

Cella currently is professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Feinberg and in the Institute for Healthcare Studies and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also recently served as executive director of the Center on Outcomes, Research & Education at NorthShore University HealthSystem, formerly known as Evanston Northwestern Healthcare.

"I am excited and honored to take on this new leadership role at Feinberg," Cella said. "I look forward to working with my faculty colleagues and Dean Jameson on these important issues in research, clinical care and medical education."

Cella earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Northwestern and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Loyola University of Chicago. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Psycho-Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he conducted research on psychosocial aspects of cancer survivorship and on quality of life evaluation during cancer. In 1987, he became a clinical assistant psychologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and then moved Chicago to direct psychosocial services and research in the cancer program at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.

From 1987 through 1997, Cella built a clinical service and research program with an emphasis on quality of life and outcome evaluation in cancer treatment research. His move to Northwestern and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in 1997 brought the expansion of his research in quality of life into a broader study of outcomes among various clinical areas including cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal conditions, neurologic disorders and surgery, and organ transplantation. He has developed and is continually refining the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Measurement System for outcome evaluation in patients with chronic medical conditions.

Cella has received several grants and contracts to study questions regarding quality of life measurement in clinical trials, cross-cultural equivalence of quality of life measurement, efficacy of psychosocial interventions in oncology, and medical outcomes research. He is principal investigator of the statistical coordinating center for the NIH Roadmap Initiative to build a Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System. He is also principal investigator of a contract to develop item banks for the clinical trials supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He has authored more than 300 publications in the area of quality of life measurement in clinical trials and clinical practice.