Titles and Roles
- Senior Vice President of Research
- Emory University
- Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Nursing
- Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
- Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
- Emory University School of Medicine
- Research Program
- Cancer Prevention and Control
Deborah Watkins Bruner, RN, PhD, FAAN, is an internationally renowned researcher and clinical trialist with a focus on patient reported outcomes (PROs), symptom management, and comparative effectiveness of radiotherapy modalities. Her most current research is focused on the role of the human microbiome in carcinogenesis and cancer treatment outcomes.
Her global work includes currently leading a project to assist in preparing for opening up the first modern radiotherapy in Ethiopia through 3D treatment planning and quality assurance. She is past chair of the Advisory Board for the Emory University School of Nursing-Addis Ababa University (AAU) partnership in developing the first doctoral program in nursing and serves on dissertation committees for AAU nurses.
Dr. Bruner's leadership, especially in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) transcends disciplines and has led to improved health and quality of life and decreased cost outcomes for those treated for cancer. Recognition of her work led to her appointment by President Obama to one of only two National Institutes of Health Presidential appointed committees, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Cancer Advisory Board, on which she still serves. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has won numerous awards for research and mentorship. She has mentored nursing, psychology, epidemiology and medical junior faculty as well as pre and post-doctoral students/fellows and has served as primary mentor for both nurses and physicians on 9 career development awards.
Dr. Bruner previously served as Associate Director for Mentorship, Education and Training for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University where she oversaw program development, facilitated implementation and developed metrics and evaluation while working closely with Winship program leadership and the Mentorship Advisory Board to develop goals and strategies for faculty excellence.
Dr. Bruner has worked for almost three decades with the NCTN and is the first and only nurse to ever lead a national clinical trials cooperative group, first as the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP), and currently as multi-PI of the NRG Oncology group National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). NRG Oncology was formed by the historic merger of The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Prostate (NSABP), the RTOG, and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) in March 2014. NRG is a consortium of over 1900 institutions and involving over 3,000 physicians, nurses, physicists, and statisticians, in the U.S. and Canada. The NCORP focuses on symptom amelioration, quality of life and comparative effectiveness trials in community settings, where most cancer care is delivered. Dr. Bruner’s pioneering leadership in the NCTN led to a paradigm shift from a historically medically dominated focus on survival and toxicity, to a patient-centered bio-behavioral focus that includes patient reported outcomes (PROs). She also serves as NRG Oncology group Deputy Chair for Publications.
Dr. Bruner has been continuously funded since 1998 from sponsors including the American Cancer Society, Department of Defense, Oncology Nursing Society, State of Pennsylvania, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Cancer Institute, and the National Institutes of Health. This has culminated in her ranking among the top 5% of all NIH funded investigators in the world since 2012, according to the Blue Ridge Institute.
Dr. Bruner received her PhD in nursing, with a focus on outcomes research, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Bruner has published over 160 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 16 books/book chapters. She has served as editor-in-chief of one book and three editions of an ONS Guidelines Manual for radiation oncology nursing. Her articles have been published in a number of leading journals including the Journal of the America Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics and Cancer and the Oncology Nursing Forum.
Publications Publication Date
Dr. Bruner has been honored with university awards in research and mentorship including national awards such as the Excellence in Radiation Oncology, Oncology Nursing Society/Varian Nursing Award and the Linda Hunter Quality of Life Lecture, Society of Gynecologic Nurse Oncologists, and international awards such as Best New Investigator, International Society for Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research, Poster Presentation. She has been recognized by the Oncology Nursing Society with the Distinguished Researcher Award and the Rose Mary Carroll-Johnson Distinguished Award for Consistent Contribution to Nursing Literature. She has also been inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International's Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.