Melissa Alderfer PhD

Staff Psychologist

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Contact Melissa Alderfer, PhD


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Extended Bio

Melissa A. Alderfer, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, a Psychologist in the Division of Oncology and Director of the Postdoctoral Psychology Fellowship Training Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Including her fellowship training in the Division of Oncology at CHOP, mentored by Dr. Anne E. Kazak, Dr. Alderfer now has more than 10 years of experience in psychosocial oncology. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and chapters and has won awards for her work including the 2007 Donald K. Routh Early Career Award from the Society of Pediatric Psychology. She is currently on the editorial boards for Journal of Pediatric Psychology and Health Psychology.

Dr. Alderfer’s research uses a social ecology framework to conceptualize and understand the ways in which childhood cancer impacts families. Her work aims to develop interventions to improve adjustment to childhood cancer for all family members within their homes, communities /schools, and the hospital. A primary focus of her research is healthy siblings of children with cancer and she has obtained funding from the National Cancer Institute, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Department of Defense, and American Cancer Society to learn more about the adjustment of siblings. Next, she plans to develop intervention programs for siblings in both the hospital and their schools. Dr. Alderfer is also investigating family-based problem solving interventions to improve adherence of children and adolescents with leukemia, has studied parent and child interventions to improve well-being during hospitalization for stem cell transplant, and with her colleagues at CHOP has developed and evaluated family-based interventions to prevent or alleviate cancer-related posttraumatic stress. She is currently planning additional family-based intervention studies including parent-teen based problem-solving interventions.


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