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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Preventive Medicine
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Behavioral Medicine

Behavioral medicine is the interdisciplinary field concerned with understanding mechanisms by which health behaviors involving diet, physical activity, substance use and more influence the odds of developing chronic disease. Behavioral medicine scientists also study how to apply behavioral and psychosocial interventions effectively and efficiently to prevent and treat illness, foster adherence to medical treatments and improve quality of life.


Our goals are to study how behavioral and psychosocial influences ‘get under the skin’ to influence health outcomes and to apply that knowledge to promote health and prevent illness. We develop resource-efficient, effective interventions that incorporate digital components to extend population reach, accommodate individual differences and adapt to changes in state.”

Bonnie J. Spring, PhD

Bonnie Spring

What We Do


The NCI training grant is a full-time T32 postdoctoral research training program in behavioral and psychosocial aspects of cancer prevention and control funded by the National Cancer Institute. The training program is based in the division of Behavioral Medicine in Preventive Medicine and in Medical Social Sciences.

The division serves as the base of learning resources in interdisciplinary team science. Resources include the Team Science online learning modules and the team science graduate course in the MSCI program. This course offers practical guidance about how best to engage in team science to pursue complex science questions, work effectively with team members and produce high-impact research outcomes that help meet society’s needs

Learning resources for are also developed and housed in the division.


Major research funding for the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Division of Behavioral Medicine has been awarded by the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, American Heart Society, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Child and Health Development, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, alongside other federal and private institutions.

Visit our faculty's lab pages to learn more:

Meet Our Team

Alshurafa, Nabil I

Nabil I Alshurafa

Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine (Behavioral Medicine) and McCormick School of Engineering

Nabil Alshurafa directs the HABits Lab and recently received a K25 Career grant from NIDDK titled "SenseWhy: Overeating in Obesity Through the Lens of Passive Sensing." The HABits Lab is preparing for a 30-day observational study of participants with obesity that will don several novel wearable sensors and report using event-triggered EMAs to inform detectable (through advanced machine learning algorithms) and potentially intervenable problematic eating behaviors that plague this population. The study also aims to understand psychological factors that influence habit.

Hitsman, Brian L

Brian L Hitsman

Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine (Behavioral Medicine) and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Our research integrates multiple disciplinary approaches and methods, including human laboratory, clinical trial, epidemiological, and systematic review and meta-analysis, to delineate psychological and neurobiological factors that sustain cigarette smoking and nicotine dependence. The overarching goal of our research is to improve the treatment of nicotine dependence, especially for high tobacco burden clinical (e.g., cancer, depression) and community (e.g., low income, LGBT) populations.

Phillips, Siobhan M

Siobhan M Phillips

Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine (Behavioral Medicine)

Dr. Phillips is one of only two 2019 winners of the NIH ODP Early Stage Investigator Lecture award, recognizing early-career prevention scientists poised to become leaders in prevention research. Her research focuses on understanding determinants and health outcomes of physical activity participation, developing and testing technology-supported physical activity interventions and translating this research into practice particularly as it pertains to cancer prevention, control and survivorship. Dr. Phillips’ ongoing studies include Fit2ThriveMB and the MyActivity Trial. Here completed studies include the IMPACT Study, Fit2Thrive and Cancer to 5K Program Evaluation Study (more info here.)

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Contact Us

Behavioral Medicine

  • 680 N. Lake Shore Dr.
    Suite 1400
    Chicago, IL 60611   (Map it)
  • Phone: 312-503-6579
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