Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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David Cella Receives Lienhard Award from National Academy of Medicine

David Cella, PhD, Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control Research at the Lurie Cancer Center, was awarded the Gustav O.Lienhard Award for his pioneering work to measure and apply patient-reported outcomes in health care. The award was presented at the National Academy of Medicine’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Cella is the Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Professor, Chair of the Department of Medical Social Sciences and Director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine’s Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Throughout his career, Cella has made transformational contributions toward understanding what aspects of life matter most to people struggling with health conditions and measuring those aspects so that the information can be used to guide care. In 1985, he conducted in-depth interviews with cancer patients in order to develop questionnaires that could shed light on how cancer therapeutics were affecting patients' lives, at a time when it was uncommon in oncology to ask patients how they were feeling. His efforts helped usher in an era in which it is common practice to include patient stakeholders both in the development of quality-of-life questionnaires and in the more general conduct of research and clinical care.

In addition, Cella was the first researcher to pioneer the use of item response theory (IRT) in health measurement, opening up new possibilities for accurately gauging patients' symptoms, functioning, and perceptions of health and well-being. He also developed a score-linking approach that enabled comparisons of multiple patient-reported outcomes, unifying the measurement field around common metrics. Today, multiple health systems and facilities caring for millions of people use tools and measures developed by Cella and his close collaborators.

"David is an unwavering advocate for the voice of the patient,” said Leonidas Platanias, MD, PhD, Director of the Lurie Cancer Center. “His leadership in the field of patient-reported outcome measures continues to improve the lives of people living with cancer.”

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