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Claire C. Conley, PhD

Assistant Professor of Oncology
Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center
Georgetown University
Washington D.C.
American Society of Preventive Oncology

Current Research

Goal: To address the barriers to enhanced screening for women with a high breast cancer risk.

Impact: Enhanced breast cancer screening with breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is recommended for women with a high-risk of breast cancer. Few eligible women receive this screening, however. Dr. Conley will explore the barriers to enhanced screening MRI among high-risk women and identify targets for intervention.

What’s next: Dr. Conley will survey a group of women with high breast cancer risk to understand the barriers and facilitators in the receipt of screening breast MRI. From this group of women, a sub-group will participate in in-depth qualitative interviews to identify theoretical gaps in our understanding of barriers and facilitators to screening breast MRI.

Women with a higher than average risk for breast cancer—greater than 20 percent lifetime risk—are eligible for enhanced breast screening with MRI. Dr. Conley will conduct an exploratory analysis of women receiving care in the community setting to identify specific patient factors contributing to underutilization of screening breast MRI. The study will lay the groundwork for future interventions to increase MRI screening for high-risk women.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Improving utilization of recommended MRI screening in women with high-risk of developing breast cancer.

Impact: An estimated 6–15 percent of women in the U.S. have a higher than average risk for breast cancer based on personal health factors, family breast cancer history, or genetic mutations (such as BRCA gene mutations). For high-risk women, breast cancer screening guidelines include annual mammography and supplemental breast MRI. However, only 1–7 percent of high-risk women receive screening breast MRI. Dr. Conley will examine barriers to screening breast MRI among women with a high breast cancer risk to inform future intervention strategies.

Current investigation: Dr. Conley will conduct surveys and interviews with women with a high-risk for developing metastasis to identify barriers and facilitators to screening breast MRI. Her American Society of Preventive Oncology research supported by BCRF will provide valuable data that can help physicians determine whether a patient should receive enhanced breast MRI as part of their breast cancer screening regimen.


Claire C.Conley, PhD is Assistant Professor of Oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Center. Dr. Conley obtained her doctorate in clinical health psychology from the Ohio State University in 2018 and completed her clinical internship at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Dr. Conley’s program of research evolved from her clinical interest in individual responses to cancer diagnosis and treatment. She completed her postdoctoral training in the NCI-funded Behavioral Oncology Training Program at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. There, her research examined emotion regulation, decision making, and quality of life in the realm of cancer prevention and control. She has particular interests in risk management decision-making in populations at high-risk for cancer, and end-of-life decision-making in patients with advanced and recurrent cancers. Dr. Conley’s goal is to design and test multilevel behavioral interventions that support decision-making at critical points along the cancer survivorship trajectory. In line with her clinical training, she is also passionate about dissemination of empirically supported treatments, particularly in the realm of health psychology.

While at the University of Miami, Dr. Conley served on the leadership committees for the Society for Health Psychology and the Society of Behavioral Medicine and advocated for increased funding for cancer research at both the state of Florida and United States legislatures.

As an early-stage investigator, Dr. Conley’s accomplishments have been nationally recognized by organizations such as the American Psychological Association (2019 Early Career Achievement Award), the National Register of Health Service Psychologists (2018 Credentialing Scholarship), and the Society of Behavioral Medicine (2018 Outstanding Student Award).

BCRF Investigator Since