Alan Charles Geller
Primary Faculty

Alan Charles Geller

Senior Lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences

Program for Community Research

ageller@hsph.harvard.edu


Overview

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, medical student cancer education, and tobacco control in public housing. 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.

In the past few years and currently, I have been the PI for a NIH RO1 entitled Reducing Risks of Skin Cancer among Childhood Cancer Survivors and am a Multiple PI on a similar skin cancer detection project with recipients of organ transplants.

I have become increasingly involved in COVID-19 research and have been very fortunate to have received two Dean’s Awards over the past two years. The first toolkit was designed for pediatricians, parents, and teachers centered around youth mental health. The new and current Award centers on ways to boost COVID-19 vaccinations for children and is focused on developing a toolkit that can be used by parents, policy-makers, and pediatricians.

For the past 10 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 obesity control and the COVID-19 pandemic. I also teach a Fall and Spring class (SBS 965F and 965S) centered around making students’ practicums be at once inspirational, enlightening, and instructive.


News

Reversing the course of melanoma

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.