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Fox Chase Cancer Center Welcomes Ph.D Nurse Scientist

Mary E. Ropka, Ph.D.

Mary E. Ropka, Ph.D.


PHILADELPHIA (August 2, 2004) -- Mary E. Ropka, PhD, RN, FAAN, clinical epidemiologist and nurse scientist, recently joined the division of population science at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where she will conduct research on decision-making and decision support interventions for individuals and families dealing with hereditary cancer risk.

Ropka's research focuses on decisions related to hereditary cancer risk, which span the entire cancer spectrum - health promotion, prevention, surveillance, and treatment. Decisions related to hereditary cancer risk include different classes of decisions - evidence-based decisions and preference-sensitive decisions - which has implications for tailoring the components of decision support interventions. Ropka's research is translational in that it integrates and applies knowledge from different fields - decision making and decision support; risk assessment, risk perception, and risk communication; evidence-based patient choice; and consumer health informatics. Her previous research was in the area of cancer symptom management.

In 2001, Ropka was awarded a 5-year K07 Cancer Prevention, Control, and Population Sciences Career Development Award, a highly competitive grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It provides the recipient with funds to develop specific skills and competencies related to cancer prevention and cancer control research, and to conduct research under the guidance of a mentor. The goal of the award is to enable the recipient to develop a program of research in cancer prevention and control. Ropka will be working under the mentorship of Mary Daly, MD, PhD, director of the Family Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase.

Before joining the Fox Chase family, Ropka was on the faculty of the University of Virginia, where she was an associate professor in the Division of Health Services Research and Outcomes Evaluation, Department of Health Evaluation Sciences, School of Medicine and associate professor in the School of Nursing. She was also a faculty associate in the Center for Biomedical Ethics. Prior to that she was the chair of the Department of Adult Health Nursing at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. For the five years before that, Ropka began and was director of the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Nursing Research at the NIH.

Ropka has received numerous awards, including induction as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and into Sigma Theta Tau honor society, the Marlene Kramer Outstanding Alumni Award for Research in Nursing from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, and NINR/NIH PRMS Performance Awards.

Ropka is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association, Society for Behavioral Medicine, Society for Medical Decision Making, International Society of Nurses in Genetics, and Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).

Ropka has published more than 40 articles, including Psychosocial factors and genetic testing for hereditary breast, ovarian and colon cancers: What are we measuring?; Risk models: Applying evidence-based risk assessment in cancer nursing practice; Information needs about hereditary cancer among women with early-onset breast cancer; Breast cancer survivors' attitudes about communication of breast cancer risk to their children; and Exercise manages fatigue during breast cancer treatment: A randomized controlled trial. In 1998, Ropka edited the book, HIV Nursing and Symptom Management. She currently serves on the editorial board for Seminars in Oncology Nursing.

Ropka is a nationally known and invited speaker by organizations such as the National Cancer Policy Board of the Institute of Medicine. She recently presented internationally at the 2nd International Shared Decision Making Conference at the University of Wales Swansea.

After earning her B.S. in nursing from Syracuse University in 1971, Ropka went to the University of Connecticut to obtain her M.S. in medical-surgical nursing in 1977. She earned a Ph.D. in research and evaluation (Epidemiology) from the University of Virginia in 1988.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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