Theresa W. Gillespie, PhD, MA, BSN, FAAN



As a researcher with vast experience in both clinical oncology and cancer center administration, Dr. Gillespie is a significant contributor to clinically-oriented research initiatives at Winship Cancer Institute.

Titles and Roles

Professor, Department of Surgery
Emory University School of Medicine
Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
Research Program
Cancer Prevention and Control


Theresa W. Gillespie, PhD, MA, BSN, FAAN, serves as Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. In her role, she provides vision and oversight for Winship's community-facing activities. These include efforts in cancer health disparities, recruitment of underserved populations to clinical trials, cancer risk mitigation, cancer prevention, and cancer control interventions focused on Winship's catchment area, the state of Georgia.

Dr. Gillespie has 30 years of experience in clinical oncology, including direct patient care. For 14 years she developed and led the clinical trials programs at Winship, conducting prospective therapeutic and cancer control studies. As Director of Health Services Research at the Atlanta VA Medical Center for 10 years, she built and directed a program targeting chronic conditions, including cancer, and investigated key outcomes such as mortality, morbidity, HRQOL, and costs. Dr. Gillespie has served as Principal Investigator or co-investigator on numerous funded studies, both prospective and retrospective utilizing large national data sets, investigating patient and clinical decision-making, health disparities, quality measurement and outcomes, survivorship care, and interventions to promote guideline concordant cancer care. She serves as Principal Investigator for multiple studies examining screening and treatment options for cancers among underserved populations, including studies focused on informed decision-making regarding cancer clinical trials. She has Chaired and served on national grant review panels for NIH, NCI, NIMHD, American Cancer Society, Department of Defense, Veterans Health Affairs, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), along with international review committees for Canada, Poland, Belgium, WHO, CDC, and Fulbright.

Administratively, Dr. Gillespie initiated, managed, and directed much of the original infrastructure development for supporting the design and implementation of oncology clinical research at Winship Cancer Institute and for health services research at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. She served as Winship's Deputy Director for Administration during the NCI P30 application and site visit that resulted in Winship being named an NCI-Designated Cancer Center in 2009, and previously served as Assistant and Associate Winship Director, as well as Co-Director of the Winship Health Disparities Initiative.

Her research experiences encompass early phase I trials, multicenter phase III investigations, and population-based studies in cancer prevention, screening, and treatment. Her current research focuses on patient decision-making regarding cancer therapies, barriers to clinical trial accrual, health disparities, and outcomes, and has been regularly funded by such agencies as the NIH, NCI, CDC, AHRQ, and the VA. She co-leads the HIV Malignancy Research Group for the Emory Center for AIDS Research and has been funded to investigate cancer disparities among people living with HIV. Dr. Gillespie also has a strong global health focus and has been supported by NCI and the Gates Foundation to improve global health initiatives and training in India, Ethiopia, and Ghana.

Dr. Gillespie is a mentor and teacher, supervising students, residents, and post-doctoral fellows from the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. She has been focused for many years on enhancing research training and mentorship for medical and nursing students, residents and junior faculty across the University. She is a recipient of an NIH-funded award to evaluate a curriculum to promote a more diverse STEM and biomedical workforce of the future. She has routinely served as mentor for the Georgia CTSA KL2-Mentored Clinical and Translational Research Scholars, the Master’s of Science in Clinical Research, MPH and PhD studies in the Rollins School of Public Health, the School of Medicine's Discovery Phase for medical students, and Winship’s K12 Clinical Oncology Training Program and American Cancer Society’s Institutional Research Grant award. Nationally, she has served on the Board of Directors and as faculty for the American Society for Clinical Oncology’s ASCO University and ASCO e-Learning initiatives and is a well-recognized speaker and presenter.


Dr. Gillespie earned her PhD in Educational Studies and Research Measurement and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Emory University. Dr. Gillespie holds a Master of Arts in Health Education and Bachelor's degree in Communications and Chemistry from the University of Florida.


Dr. Gillespie's research interests have focused on breast, prostate, lung, and gastrointestinal malignancies. Her cross-cutting research themes include health disparities, decision-making, and risk communications in cancer, barriers to clinical trials, and provider adherence to practice guidelines and measuring quality of care. She is a leader in health services research and examines cancer outcomes using large national, regional, and state databases. Her populations of interest include rural, lower socioeconomic, and minority groups; veterans; people living with HIV; and those residing in medically underserved areas. Dr. Gillespie has collaborated extensively with basic and translational researchers investigating underlying mechanisms, molecular pathways, and developmental therapeutics. Her community collaborations involve the entire state of Georgia and address global cancer issues around the world.

  • Below is a listing of current federal grants for the above principal investigator.



Dr. Gillespie is Associate Editor for Research for the Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology and serves on the Editorial Boards for Cancer, Journal of Infusion Nursing, and International Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology.

  • PublicationsPublication Date


Dr. Gillespie has received numerous awards. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She received the Excellence in Nursing Award from Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Alumni Association (2018) and has been recognized as a Glenn Research Scholar for her breast cancer research. Other awards include the Association of Veterans Affairs Hematology and Oncology Distinguished Lectureship in October 2012, Distinguished Service Award from the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition (2007), the NCI-AACR-ONS Bench to Bedside Distinguished Lecture (2005), and the 2005 Excellence in Research Award from the Georgia Nurses Association. She has also received the Champion of Hope Cancer Control Distinguished Service Award, the Public Education Award, and the Volunteer of the Year Award from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Gillespie has been named in "Who's Who in America," "Who's Who in American Nursing," and "Who's Who of Women Executives."

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