Alan Charles Geller
Primary Faculty

Alan Charles Geller

Senior Lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences

Program for Community Research


Personal Statement

I have been a SBS faculty member since 2010. I took a very circuitous path to a public health career. I moved to Boston in 1973 and worked for years as a day care worker, steelworker, and then obtained my nursing degree in 1984. I worked on a surgical oncology floor and through caring for many patients with preventable but late-stage cancers, I began to see first hand the strong and compelling need for cancer screening and prevention research.

My current projects are varied and challenging with strong interests in cancer disparities, cancer screening, and community-based and home/family interventions. My primary research is aimed at reducing the disproportionate burden of melanoma mortality for persons of lower SES and middle-aged and older men. We have tried to accomplish this through public awareness, national and international screening programs, training, and exploring patient and physician communication patterns. We also have a number of Federal grants for tobacco cessation and elimination of second-hand smoke exposure in multiple venues, including public housing developments. I am very excited about participating in a randomized trial for smoking cessation that was recently conducted at Children’s Hospital to reach parents of hospitalized children. I am also the PI for a new NIH RO1 entitled Reducing Risks of Skin Cancer among Childhood Cancer Survivors. For the past three years, I have taught a class entitled ‘Successes and Challenges in Health Behavior Change’ where we look at some of the more successful comprehensive public health initiatives such as tobacco campaigns to see what lessons we can learn for modern-day epidemics such as those for tanning beds and obesity.

Comparative Effectiveness Research

a) Randomized trial to improve tobacco cessation teaching at US medical schools. NIH grant. Students at 5 schools will receive web-based curriculum, enhanced role plays, academic detailing and booster education.

b) Randomized trial to improve tobacco cessation in Boston public housing. 20 Boston Housing Authority sites are randomized to controls and intervention. Intervention sites receive coaching by tobacco treatment advocates using motivational interviewing techniques with as many as 7 to 9 home visits. Funded by the NCI.

c) Randomized trial to improve skin cancer examination teaching at US medical schools. 2 schools will receive standard education, 3 schools will receive an integrated skin exam video, and 3 schools will receive the video and a booster in the third year of medical school. Funded by the Harry Lloyd Charitable Foundation.

d) Pre-test, post-test design using a web-based curriculum to improve early detection practices by primary care physicians at two large national HMOs. Funded by the Melanoma Research Alliance.

e) Randomized study to improve tobacco cessation counseling for parents of children hospitalized at Children's Hospital Boston. Parents in the deluxe group receive Motivational Interviewing, a prescription for NRT, and a pro-active referral to the Smoker's Quitline. Parents in other groups receive educational materials. Funded by the Flight Attendant's Medical Research Institute.


Also writing a proposal to improve early detection of skin cancer practices among childhood cancer survivors.



Reversing the course of melanoma

March 27—Deaths from melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, have fallen sharply in recent years, according to new research co-authored by Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences, and published in the American Journal of…