Faculty Educator of the Month: February 2009

Dr. Robert M. Chamberlain

Robert M. Chamberlain, Ph.D., chair ad interim of the Department of Epidemiology, The University of Texas System Distinguished Teaching Professor, adjunct professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at The University of Texas School of Public Health and faculty member at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston (GSBS), has been named the February 2009 Faculty Educator of the Month.
In his role as principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute-funded training grants in cancer prevention education, Dr. Chamberlain oversees the training of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows and graduate students pursuing careers as clinical and laboratory investigators in the field of cancer prevention. The trainees in this program, which is the largest grant-funded preventive oncology program in the country, complete graduate courses and participate in cancer prevention and control studies with faculty mentors at MD Anderson and other Texas Medical Center institutions. Since 1992, an average of eight postdoctoral fellows and 25 graduate students have completed the program each year.
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Chamberlain has coordinated the two-semester GSBS course Topics in Cancer Prevention. This course covers the scientific basis for prevention and control of cancer in humans, risk factors for cancer and alterations of these factors, integration of basic science and etiological research in the study of risk factors, designing and performing cancer prevention research, scientific approaches to community intervention research and social and behavioral science factors. Also at the GSBS, Dr. Chamberlain and Shine Chang, Ph.D., are developing a new course entitled Biobehavioral Research Methods that will focus on the association between genetics and health risk behaviors.
Dr. Chamberlain also has been active in training and mentoring young scientists and physicians on a personal level. Specifically, he has directly supervised 65 graduate students and 23 postdoctoral research fellows and served on supervisory committees for 12 trainees, Also, since 2002, he has taught the “Mentors - How to Choose and How to Use” short course at MD Anderson. Furthermore, Dr. Chamberlain has taught a long list of courses and served on many advisory committees outside MD Anderson.
Dr. Chamberlain has been honored on several occasions for his educational contributions. Most recently, he was named a Distinguished Teaching Professor in The University of Texas System in 2007, and he received the Margaret Hay Edwards Medal for outstanding contributions in cancer education from the American Association for Cancer Education and the MD Anderson Postdoctoral Association Distinguished Mentor Award in 2005. Additionally, Dr. Chamberlain has received the GSBS Dean’s Excellence Award six times and the MD Anderson Faculty Achievement Award in Education.
Dr. Chamberlain earned his Ph.D. degree in medical sociology and anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1969. He went on to complete his postgraduate training in computing applications for the social and behavioral sciences supported by the National Science Foundation at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
After serving as a member of the hospital administration graduate faculty at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio (1969-1971), Dr. Chamberlain went to the University of Virginia, where he was an assistant professor of sociology and research associate in program effectiveness studies from 1971 to 1975. He then arrived in Houston as an assistant professor of community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Chamberlain went on to serve as an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at The University of Houston (1976-1979) and coordinator of the Cancer Prevention Training Program and research assistant professor in the Education Division of the Debakey Heart Center at Baylor College of Medicine (1979-1988).
Dr. Chamberlain came to MD Anderson in 1988 when he was named assistant professor of cancer prevention, associate epidemiologist and associate health educator in the Department of Cancer Prevention. In 1992, he transitioned to the new Department of Epidemiology, and there he was promoted to associate professor in 1994 and professor in 1999. Also in 1999, Dr. Chamberlain was named Ashbel Smith Professor and deputy chair of the Department of Epidemiology.
Since 1996, Dr. Chamberlain has been the principal investigator, a co-investigator or a co-director for eight funded research projects and a grant reviewer for several study sections. Also, he is an associate editor for the Journal of Cancer Education and a journal reviewer for Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Finally, Dr. Chamberlain has authored more than 65 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, seven manuals, two invited articles, two book chapters and one book over his career.