Canhua Xiao is an Associate Professor, tenured, and joined Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor in 2014. Prior to that, she received a PhD from University of Pennsylvania in 2011. To further refine and expand her research skills and knowledge, she finished her postdoctoral training at Emory University in 2013.  Dr. Xiao’s general research interests focus on patient-reported outcomes, cancer-related symptoms/symptom clusters, and cancer related fatigue and its biological mechanisms.  Dr. Xiao’s research has contributed to the understanding of symptom clusters and fatigue in patients with head and neck cancer. This disease has seen increasing incidence in the U.S. due to the prevalence of Human Papillomavirus.  

Dr. Xiao’s work has been funded by multiple sources including the NIH/NINR Career Development Award (K99/R00) and R01.  While she has just entered the R00 phase of her study, she received her first R01 to further explore the epigenetic mechanisms in the development of fatigue. Because of her significant contributions to oncology nursing, she has been awarded the 2016 Victoria Mock New Investigator Award by Oncology Nursing Society.  

Dr. Xiao also enjoys writing and has co-authored more than 40 manuscripts. Her work has been published in the fields of cancer, psychoneuroimmunology, and nursing journals including the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Cancer, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, International Journal of Radiation Oncology * Biology * Physics, and Cancer Nursing.  She is also an active peer reviewers for many of these journals.

Areas of Expertise


1. Xiao C, Miller A, Felger J, Mister D, Liu T, Torres M. Depressive symptoms and inflammation are independent risk factors of fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Psychological Medicine. (Accepted)

2. Wang T, Yin J, Miller A, Xiao C. (2017) A systematic review of the association between fatigue and genetic polymorphisms. Brain, Behavior, and Immunology. Jan 12. pii: S0889-1591(17)30007-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2017.01.007. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Miaskowski C, Barsevick A, Berger A, Casagrande R, Grady P, Jacobsen P, Kutner J, Patrick D, Zimmerman L, Xiao C, Matocha M, Marden S. (2017) Advancing Symptom Science Through Symptom Cluster Research: Expert Panel Proceedings and Recommendations. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Jan 24;109(4). pii: djw253. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw253. Print 2017 Apr.

4. Xiao C, Zhang Q, Nguyen-Tân PF, List M, Weber RS, Ang KK, Rosenthal R, Filion EJ, Kim H, Silverman C, Raben A, Galloway T, Fortin A, Gore E, Winquist E, Jones CU, Robinson W, Raben D, Le QT, Bruner DW. (2016) Quality of life in a prospective phase III randomized trial of concurrent standard radiation vs. accelerated radiation plus cisplatin for locally advanced head and neck carcinoma: NRG Oncology RTOG 0129. International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics.  Jul 25. pii: S0360-3016(16)32895-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2016.07.020. [Epub ahead of print]

5. Xiao C, Miller AH, Felger J, Mister D, Liu T, Torres M. (2016) A Prospective Study of Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy. Advances in Radiation Oncology. 1:10-16.

6. Xiao C, Beitler J, Higgins K, Conneely K, Dwivedi B, Felger J, Wommack EC, Shin DM, Saba NF, Ong L, Kowalski J, Burner DW, Miller A. (2016) Fatigue is Associated with Inflammation in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer Before and After Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy. Brain, Behavior, and Immunology. 52:145-152. PMID: 26515035

7. Bruner DW, Hunt D, Michalski J, Bosch W, Galvin J, Amin M, Xiao C, Bahary J, Patel M, Chafe S, Rodrigues G, Lau H, Duclos M, Baikadi M, Deshmukh S, Sandler H. (2015) Preliminary Patient Reported Outcomes Analysis of 3DCRT versus IMRT on the High Dose Arm of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 0126 Prostate Cancer Trial. Cancer. 121(14):2422-30. PMID: 25847819

8. Xiao C, Hanlon A, Zhang Q, Movsas B, Ang K, Rosenthal DI, Nguyen-Tan PF, Kim H, Le Q, Burner DW. (2014). Risk Factors for Clinician-Reported Symptom Clusters in Patients with Advanced Head and Neck Cancer in a Phase III Randomized Clinical Trial: RTOG 0129. Cancer. 120(6):848-854. PMID: 24338990

9. Xiao C, Bruner DW, Jennings BM, Hanlon AL. (2014) Methods for Examining Cancer Symptom Clusters Over Time. Research in Nursing & Health.  37(1):65-74. PMID: 24414939

10. Xiao C, Hanlon A, Zhang Q, Ang K, Rosenthal DI, Nguyen-Tan PF, Kim H, Movsas B, Burner DW. (2013). Symptom clusters in patients with head and neck cancer receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy. Oral Oncology. 49(4):360-366. PMID: 23168337

11. Xiao C, Polomano R. Bruner DW. (2013). Comparison between Patient-reported and Clinician-observed Symptoms in Oncology. Cancer Nursing. 36(6): E1-E16. PMID: 23047799

12. Xiao C. (2010). The state of science in the study of cancer symptom clusters. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 14(5): 417-434. PMID: 20599421


Dr. Xiao teaches and gives guest lectures for different levels of students, including undergraduates and graduates.  Through her teaching, Dr. Xiao likes to engage her students in the classroom, share research experience and findings of herself and others, and explore new instrumental technology.  The courses and lectures that she has given include: research methods, statistics, genetics, and cancer symptoms and inflammation.  Dr. Xiao is also the advisor/mentors for students from school of nursing and other colleges within Emory.  Teaching and learning from teaching, are invigorating and joyful aspects of Dr. Xiao’s professional life.


Dr. Xiao has broad interests in cancer patient-reported outcomes and related biological mechanisms.  More specifically, she has conducted research on cancer-related fatigue and inflammation in patients with head and neck cancer.  While obtaining her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, she received two research grants for her dissertation. Her dissertation examined fatigue-related symptom clusters, in head and neck cancer patients receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy.  As a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, Dr. Xiao expanded her research to include biological mechanisms associated with fatigue.  Dr. Xiao received an Oncology Nursing Foundation grant and an NINR K99/R00 award to examine whether radiation-induced fatigue is related to pro- and anti-inflammatory signaling pathways; these projects focus on both the peripheral inflammatory marker levels and mRNA gene expression levels.  As a junior faculty member now, she has received a R01 study to explore the epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation) of fatigue and inflammation for head and neck cancer patients.  Dr. Xiao’s other research interests include cancer patients’ quality of life and management of cancer-related symptoms.