Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

David Cella, PhD

Professor, Medical Social Sciences; Feinberg School of Medicine

David Cella, PhD

Research Program


d-cella( at )

Selected Publications

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Cancer-Focused Research

Dr. Cella's research is focused on four areas: 1) basic measurement research; 2) descriptive studies of QOL and cancer survival; 3) analysis and interpretation of QOL data in clinical trials; and 4) quality of life intervention research. Highlights of Dr. Cella's basic QOL measurement research include validation and translation of several subscales to the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) measurement system, an instrument equating across five commonly-used QOL questionnaires (Q-score project), and most recently item banking and preparation for computerized adaptive testing using item response theory (IRT) based measurement. Dr. Cella is Principal Investigator of the NIH Roadmap initiative to develop a Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS;, which includes a major emphasis in cancer including supplemental support from NCI. His accomplishments in descriptive studies of QOL during cancer survival include the survival period during treatment as well as off-treatment survivorship. He has contributed many papers to the literature in this area including manuscripts related to symptoms such as acute and chronic fatigue, neurotoxicity, impact of myelotoxicity upon function, and the general multidimensional impact of cancer and cancer treatment upon patient function and well being over time. Dr. Cella's contributions to analysis and interpretation of QOL data from clinical trials has bridged across many of the extant cooperative clinical trial groups in the United States and internationally. In the area of intervention research, Dr. Cella has been a funded investigator over the past five years on several intervention studies to improve cancer symptoms and health-related quality of life. Dr. Cella has also been involved in numerous intervention studies as an investigator specializing in the measurement of QOL related endpoints.