Kevin Krull, PhD, a distinguished pediatric neuropsychologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, has been appointed chair of the institution’s newly renamed Psychology and Biobehavioral Sciences after a national search. The department will expand its investigations into the biological mechanisms underlying the effects of catastrophic disease—and their treatment—on the brain and behavior to improve the lives of pediatric patients.
Under Krull’s leadership, the department will launch two new research centers. The first is the Center for Cognitive Health, which will focus on understanding physiological mechanisms and improving cognitive outcomes. The second is the Center for Biobehavioral Health, which will investigate mechanisms and effects related to different types of behavioral problems and stress.
“Dr. Krull’s multidisciplinary approach to investigating the relationships between body, brain and medicine will guide the development of exciting new research programs,” said Ellis Neufeld, MD, PhD, St. Jude executive vice president and clinical director. “His work in neurological development and cognitive function will help accelerate the progress of our Strategic Plan by enhancing the quality of life for all children who survive pediatric cancer.”
“Historically, our priorities have been focused on clinical services and outcomes,” said Krull, who first joined St. Jude in 2007. “Moving forward, some of the faculty that we recruit may be neuroscientists or behavioral investigators who are studying biological mechanisms that impact cognition and behavior.”
Krull is also co-chair of the Neuroscience Working Group in the Cancer Control and Survivorship Program. He has devoted his own research activities to the study of neurocognitive outcomes of childhood cancer, late effects of cancer therapy, biologic and psychosocial moderators/mediators of survivors’ neurocognitive impairment and treatment of attention and executive function problems.
Krull has been the principal investigator on five National Institutes of Health RO1 research grants and a T32 training grant for postdoctoral research fellows. He has been a primary author of multiple papers in Annals of Neurology, Blood, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, JAMA Oncology, Lancet Haematology, Lancet Psychiatry and Neurology.
Krull succeeds Sean Phipps, Ph.D., who was the inaugural chair of the department and grew the department from a much smaller Division of Behavioral Medicine.