Theresa W. Gillespie, PhD, MA, BSN


Titles and Roles

Professor, Department of Surgery
Emory University School of Medicine
Research Program
Cancer Prevention and Control


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 including 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 cancer 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 decision-making regarding screening and treatment options for cancers among underserved populations, including studies focused on informed decision-making regarding cancer clinical trials. She has served and co-chaired national grant review panels, including for American Cancer Society, Department of Defense, Veterans Health Affairs, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

Administratively, Dr. Gillespie initiated, managed, and directed much of the 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 Director, as well as Co-Director of the Winship Health Disparities Initiative. She currently serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Emory Institute for Drug Development.

Her research experience encompasses 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 is regularly funded by such agencies as the NIH, NCI, CDC, AHRQ, and the VA. She is a national leader in prostate cancer survivorship initiatives and part of a nationwide funded consortium of cancer centers to improve prostate cancer care. Dr. Gillespie also has a strong global health focus and has been funded by the Gates Foundation to improve global health initiatives in collaboration with the Emory Institute for Drug Development.

Dr. Gillespie is a mentor and teacher, supervising students and residents from the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Nursing. She serves on curriculum committees for the School of Medicine and has been focused for many years on enhancing research training and experiences for medical and nursing students, residents and junior faculty across the University. She is a recipient of an NCI-funded award to develop a curriculum to train professionals in evidence-based approaches to enhance accrual of minority populations to clinical trials. She has served as mentor for the Emory Master's of Science in Clinical Research, MPH and PhD studies in the Rollins School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine's Discovery Phase for medical students. She has developed and implemented a new course for Surgery residents to enhance transition to research training and post-residency to attending status.

Dr. Gillespie holds memberships in a multitude of professional organizations including the American Society for Clinical Oncology, the Oncology Nursing Society, and the Georgia Cancer Coalition, among others. She also serves on the scientific advisory boards of the Atlanta-Birmingham Geriatric Research and Education Clinical Center and the Georgia Center for Cancer Research and Education, and the Global Health Committee for the American Cancer Society and Movember Foundation.


Dr. Gillespie earned her PhD in Educational Studies 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 decision-making and risk communications in cancer, barriers to clinical trials, health disparities, 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.

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



  • PublicationsPublication Date


Dr. Gillespie has received numerous awards. She is currently a Glenn Research Scholar in recognition of her breast cancer research. Other awards include the Association of Veterans Affairs Hematology and Oncology Distinguished Lectureship in October 2012, 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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