Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., FACSM


Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., FACSM, is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine. She is an exercise interventionist who has led multiple trials, including a large randomized controlled trial to assess the safety of upper body exercise among 295 breast cancer survivors with and without lymphedema (Physical Activity and Lymphedema Trial [PAL]). Her research extends from the role of physical activity in the prevention and etiology of obesity-related cancers to the usefulness of activity for rehabilitation and health promotion in cancer survivors of all cancers. Her meta-analyses on the topic of exercise interventions in cancer patients and survivors provide a starting point for clinicians to understand the effects of exercise among cancer survivors. Dr. Schmitz has over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has had continuous NIH funding for her research since 2001.

Dr. Schmitz serves on the expert panel for the YMCA/Lance Armstrong Foundation Cancer Survivorship Collaborative, wrote the cancer survivorship section of the recently published U.S. DHHS report of the Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, served on the ad hoc committee that developed the ACSM Cancer Exercise Trainer certification, and is the lead author of the ACSM Roundtable on Exercise for Cancer Survivors, which published guidance for exercise testing and prescription for cancer survivors in July 2010. In 2010, the National Lymphedema Network awarded her the Catalyst Award for being a researcher whose work has stimulated thought, discussion, and debate that leads to improvement in patient care for those with lymphedema.

"My mission is that exercise will become as broadly integrated into controlling breast cancer as it currently is in controlling heart disease," says Dr. Schmitz. "Large population-based studies show us that exercise prevents breast cancer and that survivors who are regularly physically active are less likely to die of breast cancer. Results from dozens of clinical trials tell us that exercise has a multitude of benefits for the breast cancer survivor, from controlling fatigue to reducing the likelihood that lymphedema will get worse. All of this evidence needs to get into the hands of the survivor herself. Breastcancer.org helps researchers like me reach survivors more directly -- ensuring that the best possible evidence gets to the survivor as quickly as possible."

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