“I would very much like to thank the people that nominated me for this award. It really means a lot to get recognition from your peers,” Cella said.
Cella is also director of the Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes within the Institute of Public Health and Medicine and the Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Chair Emeritus in the department of Medical Social Sciences. He studies questions regarding quality-of-life measurement in clinical trials, equitable cross-cultural measurement, the efficacy of psychosocial and symptom interventions in chronic illness and healthcare quality improvement. He has published more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles, most of which focus on the unique contribution that the patient perspective has upon the evaluation of health and healthcare.
“People are actually quite good at telling you how they feel and telling you what’s going on in their lives and they don’t always communicate that as patients to their doctor or their health team unless they are directly probed by the clinical team or by a questionnaire that I might have developed or had a role in developing,” Cella said. “You’re just not going to know it, unless you do that asking and that information leads to better care.”
He developed and is continually refining the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) Measurement System for outcome evaluation in patients with chronic medical conditions. He also led the development of the NIH Roadmap Initiative to build a Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS), the Neurology Quality of Life (Neuro-QoL) Measurement System and the Emotional Health domain of the NIH Toolbox.
Cella is also associate director for cancer prevention and control research at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
Rinad Beidas, PhD, Ralph Seal Paffenbarger Professor and chair of the Department of Medical Social Sciences was one of several who nominated Cella for the award. She said Cella has been doing incredible work over the past few decades and at the core of that work is the idea that the patient voice really matters in healthcare and healthcare delivery.
“He pioneered a field around how to actually empirically measure that patient voice across a range of diseases and settings and now is pioneering a way forward in how to actually implement,” Beidas said.
Nisha Mohindra, MD, associate professor of Medicine in the division of Hematology and Oncology, also nominated Cella for the award. She worked closely with Cella during the COVID-19 pandemic to study how to enhance communication with patients through alternative methods since seeing them in the clinic wasn’t an option.
“Dr. Cella is a great choice for this award because he does embody the full spectrum of what you want in someone who conducts practice-changing research,” Mohindra said. “He knows the science, but then he has [this way]of taking his scientific hat off and trying to communicate with clinicians and patients to ensure that we are actually meeting people where they are.”
In addition to the Tripartite Award, Cella was awarded the National Academy of Medicine Gustav O. Lienhard Award for Advancement of Health Care in 2016. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
About the Tripartite Prize
The Tripartite Legacy Faculty Prize is given annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in research that emphasizes translational approaches, teaching and mentoring, and leadership. The award is sponsored and supported by the Office of the Dean and is made possible through the generous support of family members and friends of Geoffrey Kent, MD, PhD.
The prize was established to commemorate the medical teaching legacies of Abraham Albert Hijmans van den Bergh, MD; Isadore Snapper, MD; Hans Popper, MD; Fenton Schaffner, MD; and Kent. European-born and educated, their lives were forever changed by the Holocaust and war: all but Hijmans van den Bergh reached the United States to continue their careers and briefly worked together at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Through their prolific collaborations and publications, Snapper, Popper, Schaffner and Kent emerged as international leaders in the study of liver disease.