Barakat Research Program

Barakat Research Program

Dr. Barakat, Chief of the Section on Behavioral Oncology, is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Pediatrics of the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of Psychosocial Services for the Cancer Center in the Division of Oncology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Consistent with the goals of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research (CCCR) Section on Behavioral Oncology, Dr. Barakat’s pediatric psychology lab applies clinical translational research to improve outcomes in pediatric cancer across the continuum of care with an emphasis on developmental and psychosocial processes of risk and resilience. We achieve our goals by applying contextual models (e.g., family and social ecology) to psychosocial research and clinical practice and by providing leadership in behavioral translational research and training across health disciplines.

As a senior investigator on projects funded through the American Cancer Society, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, and St. Baldrick's Foundation, Dr. Barakat’s research focuses on evidence-based assessment of psychosocial risk in families of children newly diagnosed with cancer and children moving off treatment for cancer, family interventions to improve disease management, quality of life, and school functioning among children with sickle cell disease and their caregivers, identifying strategies to increase recruitment and retention in clinical trials in pediatric cancer and in pediatric sickle cell disease, and disparities in pediatric oncology follow-up care. We also conduct innovative research in the following critical areas of inquiry and with specific, unique, and vulnerable populations in pediatric cancer: understanding of and support for adolescent and young adult decision-making regarding clinical trial research, interventions address health behaviors, disease management, and adherence, and identification of and remediation for neurocognitive late effects of cancer and treatment.

Dr. Barakat’s current roles in leadership of the Psychosocial Services Program in the CHOP Cancer Center and the Section on Behavioral Oncology of the CCCR allows her to bridge clinical research with practice to implement evidence-based assessment and intervention and support research recruitment efforts. In this role, she develops, implements, and monitors child, adolescent, and family programming offered by a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, social workers, child life specialists, creative art therapists, patient navigator, and oncology chaplain. These programs include a new foundation-funded initiative focused on adolescent and young adult psychosocial services research and clinical programming and integration of an evidence-based intervention for families of children newly diagnosed with cancer into clinical care through inpatient support groups.

Dr. Barakat is involved in mentorship of pediatric psychologists at all levels of training from students conducting undergraduate internships, predoctoral practicum students and interns, and postdoctoral fellows and early career psychologists. She is mentor on Dr. Meghan Marsac’s NIMH-funded K award to examine child and family coping in the context of pediatric traumatic injury, Dr. Matthew Hocking’s NCI-funded K award to evaluate the associations among family functioning with neurocognitive and social outcomes among young adult survivors of brain tumors, and Dr. Lauren Daniel’s ACS-funded postdoctoral fellowship award to describe and assess sleep disturbances in children with cancer. In addition, she serves as sponsor on two nursing F31 predoctoral awards and engages in medical resident and fellow education. Dr. Barakat supervises a highly competent and capable team of researchers and research assistants with future plans for careers in public health, medicine, and pediatric psychology.