Faculty Educator of the Month: November 2011

Dr. Susan K. Peterson

Dr. PetersonSusan K. Peterson, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science, faculty member at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston (GSBS), and Adjunct Associate Professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health (UTSPH), has been named the November 2011 Faculty Educator of the Month.

Dr. Peterson’s educational contributions at MD Anderson and the GSBS have covered a wide range of topics over her career. Specifically, she has been quite active in the classroom at the GSBS. Currently, Dr. Peterson is a Lecturer for two courses there: Approaches to Research (since 2006) and Bio-behavioral Research Methods in Cancer Prevention and Addiction (since 2010). She also has been a Lecturer for the courses Psychosocial Genetics Practicum (2002), Cancer Genetics (1999-2010), and Current Topics in Human and Molecular Genetics (2010); an Instructor for the courses Approaches to Research (2010) and Cancer Genetic Counseling (2010); and a Discussion Leader for The Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences (2009). Since last year, Dr. Peterson also has been a Lecturer for the course Cancer Epidemiology at the UTSPH. In the past, she was a Lecturer or Co-instructor for three other courses there.

Outside of MD Anderson, Dr. Peterson is quite active as a speaker and presenter, with more than 70 presentations, invited lectures, and keynote speeches at national and international conferences. She also co-developed and presented a workshop on Psychological and Ethical Issues in Cancer Genetics: A Primer for Clinicians and Researchers at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Oncology Society in Austin in 2007.

Dr. Peterson also has had educational experience in a supervisory role, chairing or serving on 14 supervisory committees at the GSBS and directly supervising 7 graduate students and 5 undergraduate and Allied Health students at several institutions. Additionally, she has been the primary research mentor for two postdoctoral research fellows funded through MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Research Training Program and the Kellogg Research Scholars Program.

Dr. Peterson is a graduate of the MD Anderson Heart of Leadership Faculty Development Program (2006), participated in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch Inaugural Forum of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health (2007), and took part in the Mid-Career Women Faculty Professional Development Seminar of the Association of American Medical Colleges (2010). Also, in 2010, she received the National Institutes of Health Award of Merit (Group Award) for her service on the PDQ Cancer Genetics Editorial Board.

Dr. Peterson received her Ph.D. degree in Behavioral Sciences from the UTSPH in 2001. Before that, she received a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan in 1986. In 2002, she joined the faculty of MD Anderson and the GSBS as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and associate member, respectively. Also, in 2005, she was named an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the UTSPH. Dr. Peterson was promoted to a full faculty member at the GSBS in 2006 and Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Adjunct Associate Professor at the UTSPH in 2008.

Currently, Dr. Peterson chairs the Early Career Development Program Planning Committee for Women Faculty Programs at MD Anderson and is a member of the Odyssey Program Advisory Committee, Institutional Research Grant Review Committee, and Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences Lectureship Committee. She is a member and former chair of the Psychosocial, Behavioral and Health Services Research Committee. She also is a member of several advisory boards and steering committees within the institution, including those for Clinical Cancer Genetics, the Human Pedigree Analysis Resource, and the Duncan Family Institute’s e-Health Technology and Premalignant Genome Atlas Programs.

Among her extensive research experience, Dr. Peterson has been the principal investigator or a co-investigator or consultant for more than 25 funded projects or protocols. In particular, she is or has been the principal investigator on grants funded by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and National Human Genome Research Institute. Dr. Peterson’s research focuses on psychosocial and behavioral outcomes of genetic testing for hereditary cancer syndromes in cancer survivors and their families as well as the integration of genetic services into general oncology care. Her ongoing and completed research has focused on cancer survivors' and families' decision-making about genetic testing and receiving genetic test results and the subsequent psychological and behavioral impact of those decisions. Her work also includes studies aimed at the development and evaluation of novel e-Health interventions for populations at risk for hereditary cancer as well as health care providers. In addition, she has been a grant reviewer for a large number of study sections.

Dr. Peterson is active in multiple professional organizations focused on behavioral science, public health, and cancer prevention, and she has served on the planning committees for 13 national or international conferences. She currently is the President-elect of the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Colorectal Cancer. She also serves as a reviewer for many journals, has served on guest editorial boards for two journals, and has been an abstract reviewer for many national and international meetings. Over the course of her training and career, Dr. Peterson has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, invited papers, and book chapters.