Dr. Bellizzi’s research and teaching are in the broad area of cancer survivorship, family, and health. He is principal investigator and/or co-investigator on grants related to 1) the impact of cancer on the family, 2) the experience of cancer and health outcomes in the elderly, 3) Quality of life of adolescent and young adult cancer survivors, and 4) the impact of new surgical technology (i.e., robotic surgery) on access to work during and after prostate cancer treatment. Dr. Bellizzi’s research has been published in highly esteemed peer-reviewed journals and his work and service has received national and international press coverage, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Australian Financial Review, and Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo). Prior to joining UConn, Dr. Bellizzi was a Health Scientist in the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a graduate of NCI’s preeminent Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program.
Dr. Bellizzi is a consultant to the National Cancer Institute as an expert in gerontology and cancer survivorship and served as a member of the 2009 Special Emphasis Panel (SEP) to review grant proposals for an NIH Roadmap Initiative. He is Associate Editor of Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy and Research, Springer Publishing and currently developing a commissioned handbook on cancer and aging for Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. Dr. Bellizzi serves on the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center (Hartford Hospital) Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee as well as the Cancer Survivorship Committee and the Cancer Surveillance and Evaluation Committee of the Connecticut Cancer Partnership – a CDC-funded state-wide initiative.
Dr. Bellizzi is a 15 year, two-time cancer survivor, who uses his experience as a survivor and researcher to impart knowledge and help those dealing with a cancer diagnosis. In 2005, Dr. Bellizzi rode his bike 3,300 miles across the United States with Lance Armstrong and 24 other cyclists as part of the 2005 Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope Team. He regularly speaks nationally and internationally about his experience and research.
Thomas O. Blank, Ph. D.
Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
Dr. Blank has a Ph. D. in Psychology from Columbia University and postdoctoral training in social gerontology at the University of Missouri. Prior to coming to the University of Connecticut in 1988
Dr. Blank taught in the Social Relations Department at Lehigh University. He is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in areas of adult development and aging, death and dying, and living with chronic illness. He published five books and numerous articles and presented regularly on social psychological aspects of aging. However, in the last 15 years his focus has been on studying how people deal with cancer diagnosis and longer-term aspects of cancer survivorship (especially prostate cancer), with emphasis on understanding pathways to psychological growth. The research has been partially supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Current research focus areas include:
1) Cancer and aging, including how age “matters” in terms of dealing with cancer;
2) Cancer and couple dynamics, especially how each person in a dyad perceives how the other has been affected by the cancer experience;
3) Prostate cancer and masculinities. This includes:
a. Gay men and prostate cancer—knowledge and attitudes in general, and specific characteristics of the impact of prostate cancer for gay men,
b. Broader interest in the specific impact of erectile dysfunction due to prostate cancer treatment on men’s views of themselves as sexual beings;
4) Survivorship characteristics and trajectories, from young adulthood through aging;
5) Pathways to psychological growth after cancer.
He regularly publishes in both cancer-specific outlets, such as Cancer, Psycho-oncology, and Journal of Clinical Oncology, health and behavioral medicine outlets, such as Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Health Psychology, Journal of Health Psychology, and topic-specific ones such as Computers in Human Behavior, Generations, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and Journal of General Internal Medicine, as well as chapters in related books. He is on the Editorial Board of Psychology and Health.
As a 14 year prostate cancer survivor he has served seven times as a Consumer Reviewer on scientific review panels for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Prostate Cancer Research Program. He has served on the national advisory board for the CHESS program of Internet-based support for cancer and is a member of the Board of Directors and Co-chair of the Education Sub-committee of the CT Cancer Partnership and on the Hartford Hospital Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center Cancer Survivorship Advisory Committee.
Crystal Park, Ph.D.
Professor, Clinical Psychology
Principal Investigator, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention.
Dr. Park studies multiple aspects of coping with stressful events, including the roles of religious beliefs and religious coping, the phenomenon of stress-related growth, and the making of meaning in the context of traumatic events and life-threatening illness.
In recent years, much of this work has been in the area of cancer survivorship. Some research has focused on processes of implementing adaptive lifestyle changes (e.g., Park, Edmondson, Hale-Smith, & Blank, 2009; Park & Gaffey, 2007). In addition, Dr. Park and her colleagues have been identifying the roles of meaning, coping, and religiousness/spirituality in cancer patients from point of diagnosis to well beyond primary treatment (Edmondson, Park, et al., 2008; Park, 2007, Park et al., under review). She is currently PI for a study of quality of life in late adolescent and young adult cancer survivors funded by Lance Armstrong (see Studies section below) as well as PI on a potentially funded test of lifestyle interventions (see Studies section below). This work is illuminating the personal and coping factors that lead to higher levels of well-being, improved health behaviors, and stress-related growth in survivors.
A new area of research for Dr. Park is complementary and alternative medicine; in particular, she has have several conceptual articles on religion/spirituality and CAM, and has begun new research on yoga. She and her colleagues are conducting survey research on yoga use in cancer survivors and recently launched a national survey to look at yoga use and physical and psychological well-being. In addition, Dr. Park was recently awarded a grant from NCCAM to develop a measure of multiple dimensions of yoga that will be designed to aid researchers in designing and implementing randomized control trials of yoga interventions.
Dr. Park is is co-editor of The Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (Guilford; second edition forthcoming), The Handbook of the Health Psychology and Aging (Guilford), Posttraumatic Growth: Positive Changes in the Aftermath of Crisis (Erlbaum) and Medical Illness and Positive Life Change: Can Crisis Lead to Personal Transformation? (APA).She currently serves as co-editor of Psychology & Health, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, and International Journal of the Psychology of Religion and is an editorial board member for Journal of Behavioral Medicine; Anxiety, Stress & Coping; Journal of Positive Psychology; Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion; and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.