Dana Wolff-Hughes, Ph.D.

Program Director
Risk Factor Assessment Branch, Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Telephone: (240) 620-0673
Fax: (240) 276-7920
E-mail: dana.wolff@nih.gov

  • Ph.D. – Kinesiology
    University of Tennessee
  • M.S. – Exercise Physiology
    University of Tennessee
  • B.S. – Exercise Science
    Elon University
Contact for questions about:
  • Digital health technologies and platforms
  • Assessment and validation of digital biomarkers (including physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep)
  • Analytical methods and models
  • Computational models for multidimensional cancer risk factors


Dr. Dana Wolff-Hughes is a Program Director in the Risk Factor Assessment Branch (RFAB) of the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP) in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). In this capacity, she supports work which validates and utilizes digital technology for cancer risk factor assessment (including physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep) in research and population surveillance.

She currently serves as the NIH coordinator and NCI scientific contact for the NSF-NIH Smart and Connected Health Initiative.

Additionally, Dr. Wolff-Hughes represents NCI on several trans-NIH initiatives including the Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (PASC) initiative, Bridge2AI Common Fund Initiative, and the All of Us Research program.

Dr. Wolff-Hughes’s scientific interests include novel methods and analytical approaches for risk factor assessment using digital technology, health information technology, and temporally linked contextual data. She is particularly interested in how the accuracy of physical activity measures influence dose response relationships, with a focus on methods to better interpret and understand data from digital technology.

Prior to joining EGRP, Dr. Wolff-Hughes was a Health Scientist Administrator for the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). In this role, she coordinated trans-NIH initiatives focused on the application of innovative assessment, monitoring, and analytic approaches using digital and sensor technologies, as well as, health information technology to advance behavioral and social sciences research. She first joined NCI as a Cancer Research Training Award Fellow in the Applied Research Program (now the Healthcare Delivery Research Program) and the Behavioral Research Program.

Select Publications

Steinhubl SR, Wolff-Hughes DL, Califf RM. Digital Clinical Trials: Creating a Vision for the Future. NPJ Digit Med. 2019 Dec 12; 2:126.

Riley WT, Oh A, Aklin WM, Wolff-Hughes DL. National Institutes of Health Support of Digital Health Behavior Research. Health Educ Behav. 2019 Dec;46(2S):12S-19S.

Riley WT, Oh A, Aklin WM, Sherrill JT, Wolff-Hughes DL. Commentary: Pediatric Digital Health Supported by the National Institutes of Health. J Pediatr Psychol. 2019 Apr 1;44(3):263-8.

Wolff-Hughes DL, Conroy R, McClain JJ, Nilsen WJ, Riley WT. Building the infrastructure to accelerate evidence-generating mobile and wireless health research: National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation perspectives. Transl Behav Med. 2018 Mar 1;8(2):295-8.

Serrano KJ, Coa KI, Yu M, Wolff-Hughes DL, Atienza AA. Characterizing user engagement with health app data: a data mining approach. Transl Behav Med. 2017 Jun;7(2):277-285.

Welk GJ, Saint-Maurice PF, Kim Y, Ellingson LD, Hibbing P, Wolff-Hughes DL, Perna FM. Understanding and Interpreting Error in Physical Activity Data: Insights from the FLASHE Study. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Jun;52(6):836-38.

Kim Y, Hibbing P, Saint-Maurice PF, Ellingson LD, Hennessy EC, Wolff-Hughes DL, Perna FM, Welk GJ. Surveillance of Youth Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior with Wrist Accelerometry. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Jun;52(6):872-9.

Boyer WR, Wolff-Hughes DL, Bassett DR, Churilla JR, Fitzhugh EC. Accelerometer-Derived Total Activity Counts, Bouted Minutes of Moderate to Vigorous Activity, and Insulin Resistance: NHANES 2003-2006. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016 Oct 20;13:E146.

Wolff-Hughes DL, McClain JJ, Dodd KW, Berrigan D, Troiano RP. Number of accelerometer monitoring days needed for stable group-level estimates of activity. Physiol Meas. 2016 Sep;37(9):1447-55.

Wolff-Hughes DL, Troiano RP, Boyer WR, Fitzhugh EC, McClain JJ. Use of population-referenced total activity counts percentiles to assess and classify physical activity of population groups. Prev Med. 2016 Jun;87:35-40.

Wolff-Hughes DL, Fitzhugh EC, Bassett DR, Churilla JR. Total Activity Counts and Bouted Minutes of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity: Relationships with Cardiometabolic Biomarkers Using 2003-2006 NHANES. J Phys Act Health. 2015 May;12(5):694-700.

Wolff-Hughes DL, Fitzhugh EC, Bassett DR, Churilla JR. Waist-Worn Actigraphy: Population-Referenced Percentiles for Total Activity Counts in U.S. Adults. J Phys Act Health. 2015 Apr;12(4):447-53.

Bassett DR, Troiano R, McClain J, Wolff DL. Accelerometer-based physical activity: total volume per day and standardized measures. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015 Apr;47(4):833-8.

Wolff-Hughes DL, Bassett DR, Fitzhugh EC. Population-Referenced Percentiles for Waist-Worn Accelerometer-Derived Total Activity Counts in U.S. Youth: 2003 – 2006 NHANES. PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e115915.