Skip to Content

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Welcomes Leading Researcher in Exercise Oncology, Kathryn H. Schmitz, PhD, MPH

November 8, 2022

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is pleased to welcome Kathryn H. Schmitz, PhD, MPH, effective October 1, 2022. Dr. Schmitz is professor in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology and leader for catchment area research as well as exercise oncology across UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Dr. Schmitz is a leading researcher in exercise oncology and uses exercise in cancer prevention, control, and survivorship. At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, she will create, build, and lead an exercise oncology program. She will also lead catchment area and exercise oncology research studies to quantify barriers to cancer relevant health behavior and develop interventions, particularly exercise, to overcome these barriers for under-represented minority and rural members of the UPMC Hillman catchment area. Dr. Schmitz will collaborate with basic, clinical, and population research faculty across the cancer center to help maximize the impact of these efforts.

Dr. Schmitz is coming from the Penn State Cancer Institute at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, where she was the founding director of an exercise medicine unit. She also held appointments as distinguished professor of public health sciences, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and professor of kinesiology at Penn State.

She has led many exercise trials, translated her work into clinical practice, published approximately 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and had $30 million in funding for her research since 2001. Dr. Schmitz held hospital and administrative appointments, mentored many students, and is actively involved in professional activities and scientific societies. For example, she served as President of the American College of Sports Medicine, Director of the Oncology, Nutrition and Exercise (ONE) Group; Clinical Research Professor for the American Cancer Society (their highest award); and serves on international and national advisory boards, editorial boards, and in organizing roles for scientific meetings.

Dr. Schmitz was the lead author of the first American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Roundtable on Exercise for Cancer Survivors, which published guidance for exercise testing and prescription for cancer survivors in July 2010. She chaired an International Multidisciplinary ACSM Roundtable on Exercise and Cancer Prevention and Control in March 2018, where physicians, outpatient rehabilitation specialists, researchers and exercise professionals in the room broadly agreed that the field of exercise oncology needs to be elevated further. Dr. Schmitz’s professional mission is to determine how to do so.

Prior to working at Penn State, she was a professor at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Schmitz earned her BA from the University of North Carolina; her MS Ed. in exercise physiology from Queens College, CUNY; and her PhD in kinesiology and MPH in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.