Mary A. Gerend, PhD

  • Associate Professor, Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Member, Cancer Prevention Program, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Gerend is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences within the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychology. Her research interests are in health communication and cancer prevention. Her work in health communication centers on message framing, an area of research that investigates how subtle differences in the way health messages are framed (i.e., whether they highlight the benefits of engaging in health behavior vs. the costs of not engaging in health behavior) affect people’s motivation and health behavior. Her work in cancer prevention centers on cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that causes cervical cancer in women, and genital, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers in men and women. For the past decade she has been investigating psychosocial factors associated with acceptability and uptake of a vaccine to prevent HPV infection. Recently her research has shifted toward working with underserved populations that are disproportionally affected by HPV-related cancers. She is currently the principal investigator of an NCI-funded longitudinal study aimed at identifying facilitators and barriers to completion of the 3-dose HPV vaccine series among low-income Hispanic adolescents.