Faculty Educator of the Month: February 2014

Dr. Cindy L. Carmack

Dr. Cindy L. Carmack, Associate Professor in the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, has been named the February 2014 Faculty Educator of the Month.

As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Carmack plays a unique educational role at MD Anderson in that her focus is on the quality of life of patients and their family members and caregivers. Specifically, she helps them enact cognitive behavioral changes and develops and facilitates the use of psychosocial interventions. Social support for patients from their relatives, other cancer patients, and physicians is a particular area of clinical and research interest.

Dr. Carmack has been a mentor or supervisor for numerous trainees throughout her career. Specifically, she has served as the primary mentor for 2 postdoctoral fellows, co-mentored another postdoctoral fellow, supervised 10 graduate research assistants, trained and supervised approximately 16 research staff, and mentored 2 junior faculty on National Cancer Institute-funded K07 awards. She also has been a mentor or co-mentor for six researchers seeking grant support from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and Department of Defense.

Dr. Carmack received her Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University in 1995. Later that year, she began a 1-year fellowship at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. After completing that fellowship, Dr. Carmack came to MD Anderson, where she completed a fellowship under the direction of Drs. Ellen Gritz and David Wetter in 1998.

After her fellowship here, Dr. Carmack joined the MD Anderson faculty as a Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Science. She was promoted to Instructor in 1999, Assistant Professor in 2000, and Associate Professor (tenured) in 2008. Additionally, since 2008, she has been a member of the Multidisciplinary Clinic Team in the Supportive Care Center, where she collaboratively worked with the Palliative Care team to provide clinical psychology services to MD Anderson patients and their families. In 2013, Dr. Carmack sought to dedicate more of her time to clinical service and was named to her current position of Associate Professor in the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine. She looks forward to continued training of faculty, staff, and trainees in the provision of psychosocial care to patients.

During her time at MD Anderson, Dr. Carmack has been the principal investigator, a co-principal investigator, a co-investigator, or a mentor for 28 funded research projects. A major area of emphasis in this research has been quality of life for patients and their spouses. In particular, she has been the principal investigator for a longitudinal study of psychological and relational function in lung cancer patients and their spouses and for a cross-sectional study of quality of life in prostate cancer patients and their wives. Dr. Carmack also has studied psychosocial interventions geared toward both patients and their spouses. Furthermore, Dr. Carmack is leading a donor-funded quality improvement and research initiative to improve identification and management of patient psychosocial distress at the MD Anderson Thoracic Center. This initiative has been so successful that the donor has provided additional funds for her to extend this work to the Sarcoma and Gynecologic Oncology centers. She has provided numerous talks to various departments in this initiative in an attempt to educate providers about the necessity of including psychosocial care as part of clinical care as stipulated by the Institute of Medicine’s “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient” as well as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines for Distress Management. This effort is currently one of several initiatives overseen by the institution’s Psychosocial Council.

Dr. Carmack has been a grant reviewer for several committees and study sections. Also, she has been a review board member for Health Psychology (2011-present) and the American Journal of Health Behavior (1997-2011) and a reviewer for several other journals. Over her career, Dr. Carmack has written 50 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, 3 invited articles, 4 book chapters, and 3 other publications.