Professor, Medical Social Sciences; Feinberg School of Medicine
Cancer Control & Survivorship
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Dr. Lai's research interest focuses on the application of measurement theory to improve the assessment of patient-reported outcomes and quality of care. Given her clinical expertise in pediatric rehabilitation, she is particularly interested in measuring HRQL outcomes in children with chronic illness. Dr. Lai has significant research experiences in quality of life, symptom management and late effect due to childhood cancer and/or its treatment in chronic illness for both pediatric and adult populations. She is the lead developer of the pediatric Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness scales, including Fatigue (pedsFACIT-F), anorexia and cachexia (pedsFAACT), cognition (pedsFACIT-PCF), and the childhood brain tumor survivor scale (pedsFACIT-BrS). Dr. Lai is recognized as an expert in both outcomes measurement and Item Response Theory (IRT). In particular, she has been integral in the development of item banks using IRT to measure perceived cognitive function and cancer-related fatigue for both children and adults with cancer, and other symptoms such as pain, physical function, and positive and negative psychosocial impacts from cancer experience. She has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in the related field.
Dr. Lai currently serves as a Principal Investigator on an R21 grant funded by AHRQ to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a Symptom Monitoring and Reporting System in Pediatric Chronic Illness Populations, SyMon-Peds (a.k.a., SyMon-SAYS) and recently completed an R01 grant funded by NCI to develop a perceived cognitive function item bank for children who undergo cancer treatment. She also serves as co-investigator on several federally funded projects, including NIH PROMIS Statistical Coordinating Center, Quality of Life Outcomes in Neurological Disorders funded by NINDS (Neuro-QOL) and the NIH Toolbox for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (NIH Toolbox), and site Principal Investigator on the project of Development of a Child Version of the NeuroQOL: reliability, validity and responsiveness to change in individuals with neuromuscular diseases. In Neuro-QOL, Dr. Lai led the pediatric Neuro-QOl development and was the lead analyst for both pediatric and adult components. Dr. Lai is also a co-author of the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness-Cognition and the Principal Investigator of a pharmaceutical company funded project to evaluate cognitive and functional abilities of Asian subjects with Alzheimer’s disease.