Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Department of Family Medicine

Natoshia R. Cunningham, PhD, is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine.  Her HELP Lab research team focuses on the psychological assessment and treatment of youth with chronic health conditions that involve pain.

Dr. Cunningham’s current NIH/NCCIH K23 award studies the neural mechanisms of response to a cognitive behavioral treatment (Aim to Decrease Anxiety and Pain Treatment [ADAPT]) to manage pain and anxiety in youth with functional abdominal pain disorders (FAPD), which she developed as part of her prior NIH/NICHD F32 award (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745296/). Dr. Cunningham is broadly interested in using neuroimaging techniques and other biomarkers to better understand the mechanisms of pain, and response to psychological treatments.

Dr. Cunningham’s work also aims to improve psychological functioning in youth with rheumatic conditions.  Recent work she has led includes developing and testing a tailored cognitive behavioral intervention (Treatment and Education Approach for Childhood-onset Lupus [TEACH])  for adolescents and young adults diagnosed with childhood-onset lupus to manage fatigue, mood, and pain symptoms (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30777090).  She is leading a multi-site study funded by the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance-Arthritis Foundation (CARRA-AF) to test a telehealth application of the TEACH treatment to increase patient access to care.  As a recognized leader in the psychological assessment and treatment of pediatric rheumatic conditions, Dr. Cunningham currently serves as the co-chair of the Mental Health Workgroup of the CARRA organization.

Dr. Cunningham is also interested in implementation science.  She is particularly interested in integrating psychological screening and treatments into medical care, and has led a quality improvement initiative to integrate psychological screening into medical care for youth with abdominal pain, which was recently published in Pediatrics (https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/2/e20172876).  With a multidisciplinary team, she aims to expand this work into primary care settings and other community-based settings.

Dr. Cunningham received her BA in psychology from Boston University in 2005, graduating summa cum laude with distinction.  She earned her PhD in child clinical psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2011, specializing in the assessment and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders.  As part of her graduate training, she completed her clinical internship in pediatric behavioral medicine at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center from 2010-2011.  She came to MSU from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric pain from 2011 to 2014, and served as a research faculty member from 2014 to 2019.



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Assistant Professor
Family Medicine
15 Michigan St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503



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