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Shared Resources



The overarching goal of this Shared Resource is to enhance the feasibility and success of Cancer Center investigators studying the link between lifestyle behaviors and effect of interventions, as well as biological indicators of cancer outcome, to reduce cancer risk and increase survival following the diagnosis of cancer. The resource provides expertise and guidance in developing and operationalizing behavioral research for Cancer Center members who do not necessarily have expertise in these areas, or who have limited resources to use high-quality, science-based methodology without the context and efficiency of a consolidated service core. The resource provides access to clinical and laboratory facilities and services that are otherwise not available for many Cancer Center investigators in the behavioral and population sciences and other programs.

The Biobehavioral Shared Resource (BBSR) provides services across three categories: (1) Biological indicators of behavior and assessment for determining molecular mechanisms, (2) Behavioral assessment, and (3) Behavioral interventions.


Service Profile

Biological Indicators Assessment:

  • Development of protocols for biospecimen (i.e., blood, urine, stool) collection and processing.
  • Development and provision of procedures for the processing, storing and/or shipping of samples.
  • Direct services for phlebotomy, sample processing, and preparation of samples for analysis (e.g., DNA extraction).
  • Implementing the aliquot labeling software for use in sample monitoring and tracking.
  • Identification of appropriate assays for study validation and for elucidating mechanisms of action to be conducted either in-house or by outside laboratories (and negotiating fees as appropriate).

Behavioral Assessment:

  • Provide devices, training, and processing of data to improve the quality of data collection for accelerometers, inclinometers, heart rate monitors, wearable cameras and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, which objectively measure physical activity, posture, and geolocation.
  • Direct services available through the BBSR include telephone-based dietary recalls, and assistance with web-based 24-hour dietary recalls and diet history questionnaires.
  • Telephone-based dietary recalls conducted using the Nutrition Data Systems for Research (NDS-R, University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center) software and nutrient database.
  • Body composition measurement provided using a dual energy x-ray absorptiometer (DXA), strength testing using a Biodex dynamometer, and gait analysis using a ForceLink treadmill.
  • Provide training and support and interpretation of the output data to improve the quality of data collection and analysis for web-based dietary recalls and dietary history questionnaires conducted with technologies developed by the NCI, including the Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour dietary recall (ASA24) and the Diet History Questionnaire (DHQ).
  • Consultation services providing guidance on selecting the appropriate modality (e.g., use of body media/wearable devices in assessing physical activity and sedentary behavior, web-based and phone apps in assessing dietary intake).

Behavioral Interventions:

  • Guidance on intervention design and content based on theoretically-grounded and empirically-supported weight loss, diet and physical activity interventions.
  • Protocol development for interventions that are specifically targeted to meet the needs of study populations and behavioral outcomes, and supervision and quality control.
  • Adapting the real-time data from the devices to support behavioral counseling from health coaches (e.g., text messaging, social media, and mobile apps for technology-mediated communications).
  • Training of intervention staff including general technique training (e.g., motivational interviewing) as well as training to deliver specific protocols.
  • Providing guidance and best practices for using a variety of new technologies and communication modalities for self-monitoring (e.g., Fitbit, Jawbone and other commercially available devices).
  • Collection and analysis of geolocation data to precisely characterize type and context of physical activity
  • Collection, analysis, and interpretation of metabolic measurements using indirect calorimetry to determine resting energy expenditure (RMR) and/or maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max)
  • Consultation and assistance with design, implementation, and analysis of physical activity interventions, including consultation and staff training to assist researchers using wireless devices to gather data on physical activity and sedentary behavior in free-living individuals

Additional Features:

  • The resource also has a kitchen for use for feeding studies, food demonstrations and educational activities, located on the 2nd floor of the Cancer Center. A fully-equipped 300 sq ft facility that contains a large preparation and counter workspace, two ovens, eight heating elements, two dishwashers, two prep sinks, and a professional kitchen refrigerator.
  • Collaboration with the UCSD Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center (EPARC) facilitates use of subsidized, accessible services relating to physical activity, fitness, strength and body composition


For laboratory analysis:

Brinda Rana, PhD, CPT1
Phone: 858-822-4010
Location: 3855 Health Sciences Drive, Room 2345 Bay N, La Jolla, CA 92093-080

For dietary assessment and counseling:

Christine Zoumas, MS, RD
Senior Dietitian and HS Instructor
Phone: 858-822-6161
Fax: 858-822-6166
Location: 3855 Health Sciences Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0901

For physical activity and body composition assessment:

David Wing, MS
Telephone: 858-534-9315
Fax: 858-534-9404
Location: Qualcomm Institute (CALIT2), 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0811

Operating Policy

The resource is available to all Moores Cancer Center (MCC) members, to researchers at UCSD and SDSU interested in aspects of behavior and cancer, and to researchers at other cancer centers, including the other two members of the C3. Should demand exceed capacity, priority is given to MCC members and usage is reviewed by an internal Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Consistent with MCC policies, priority access is given to Cancer Center members with peer-reviewed funding, followed by members with non-peer reviewed funding and then those who are unfunded. The SR also prioritizes requests from junior MCC faculty to aid in career development. The SAC is responsible for reviewing user requests and prioritizing them based on criteria such as overall scientific merit, availability of external funding, and SR requirements.


Brinda Rana, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Phone: 858-822-4010

Cheryl Rock, PhD, RD
Professor of Medicine
Phone: 858-822-1126

Noe Crespo, PhD, MPH
School of Public Health
San Diego State University