Deborah Watkins Bruner



Dr. Bruner is recognized as an international leader in cancer clinical trials and oncology nursing. Dedicated to improving outcomes for cancer patients, she is recognized for her research in sexuality after cancer therapy.

Titles and Roles

Associate Director for Mentorship, Education and Training
Winship Cancer Institute of 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


Dr. Bruner, a recognized international leader in cancer clinical trials and oncology nursing, serves as Associate Director for Mentorship, Education and Training at the Winship Cancer Institute, Professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Professor of Radiation Oncology in Emory University School of Medicine. In her role at Winship, she oversees program development, facilitates implementation and develops metrics and evaluation. Dr. Bruner works closely with Winship program leadership and the Mentorship Advisory Board to develop goals and strategies for faculty excellence. 

Dr. Bruner, who was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2016, is the first and only nurse to lead an NCI national cooperative group, the RTOG Community Clinical Oncology Program. She is also known for her leadership in the National Cancer Institute in assisting setting priorities for symptom management and health related quality of life clinical trials.

In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Bruner as one of five new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Dr. Bruner joined the faculty at Emory University in 2011 from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, Dr. Bruner had been at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia for 16 years where she was the Director of Symptoms and Outcomes Research and Founding Director of the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program.


She received her doctorate in nursing research, with a focus on outcomes research, at the University of Pennsylvania.


Dr. Bruner is principal investigator of the National Cancer Institute sponsored NRG Oncology National Community Oncology Program Research Base focused on cancer prevention and control. Her program of research includes the microbiome and cancer related symptoms, patient reported outcomes and comparative effectiveness of radiation therapy technologies. Her research has led to her being ranked among the top 5% of all NIH funded investigators since 2012.


Dr. Bruner has published over 130 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.

  • PublicationsPublication 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. In 2015, she received the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Distinguished Researcher Award. She will be inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International's Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2016. 

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