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Faculty Highlights: Kristi Graves, Ph.D. (Dept. of Oncology)

Kristi Graves, Ph.D., is a tenured Associate Professor of Oncology (Cancer Prevention and Control Program) and an Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Graves is a clinical psychologist involved with a variety of impactful research projects spurred on by her curiosity and personal experiences. She received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She finished her Post-Doc training at the University of Kentucky. 

Involvement in Research:

Dr. Kristi Graves’ research interests include cancer survivorship and translational genomics with a focus on community engagements and health disparities. She is engaged in a multitude of critical research projects including research on thyroid cancer, stem cell transplant symptoms, and breast cancer identification and awareness in Latino communities. Dr. Graves co-leads a project that evaluates how symptoms in thyroid cancer patients change in response to radioactive iodine treatment. In particular, she is developing a decision aid for patients so that they can make informed decisions with regards to receiving radioactive iodine. Additionally, Dr. Graves’ WISE (Writing for Insight, Strength, and Ease) study examines how expressive helping writing intervention can affect symptoms of patients who have received a stem cell transplant. Furthermore, Dr. Graves conducts work to raise awareness about genetic counseling and testing in underserved communities. Currently, as principal investigator of ARBOLES (Assessing Risk of Breast Cancer through Outreach to Latinas with Education and Support) Familiares, she trains community health educators about identification and awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in Latinos. 


During her undergraduate years, Dr. Graves was a student athlete who loved playing her sport and wanted to study sports psychology. However, upon realizing her interest in health psychology, Dr. Graves pursued a health minor with her psychology major. After her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted to help others manage their clinical diagnoses and improve the quality of life for women who get diagnosed with breast cancer. Therefore, Dr. Graves pursued a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and feels fortunate to have ended up at the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center in 2005. After being at Georgetown for a few years, Dr. Graves attended a Georgetown Women in Medicine meeting with her colleagues and was inspired by these women who served their own and other communities. Because Dr. Graves had been a wellness peer educator in her undergraduate years, she knew she also wanted to support Georgetown faculty and became involved in the Faculty Development Committee. 


Reflecting on her journey, Dr. Graves would not want to change any part of her experiences and feels so fortunate to be able to say so. She believes the pivotal point in her journey was being a part of a research team in her undergraduate years as she learned so much about data collection and the research process. Additionally, she is super grateful to all the wonderful mentors she encountered along her journey who helped shape who she is now.

Advice for Students:

Dr. Graves' valuable advice to students is to seek out faculty and ask for interesting opportunities if interested in further graduate school studies. Also, she emphasizes the importance of reading journal articles and encourages students to continuously learn, read, and be engaged in their areas of interest to eventually find the correct path to go down. Overall, Dr. Graves wants students to jump at available opportunities and remain curious and excited about what is to come.