Galen Switzer, PhD

  • Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Clinical and Translational Science
  • Director, PhD Program in Clinical and Translational Science
  • Co-Director, VA Health Services Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

Galen E. Switzer, PhD, is Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. Switzer is a leading expert in the motives and experiences of individuals who join an adult stem cell donation registry and volunteer to donate to a stranger. In collaboration with the US-based National Marrow Donor Program, UK-based Anthony Nolan Registry, and German-based DKMS, his research group has produced key findings about the experiences of registry members at critical points leading to donation, including motivations for joining the registry and factors associated with opting-out of the registry after having preliminarily matched a patient in need of a transplant. Dr. Switzer has also investigated all facets of the donation experience from the donor perspective. His research group is the most prominent group currently investigating Health Related Quality of Life among HSC donors and has produced important findings about donor experiences. For more than 20 years Dr. Switzer has developed and evaluated clinical and psychosocial research measures and compiled validated measures for research projects across multiple contexts.

Education & Training

  • BA (Psychology), McPherson College, 1985
  • MA (Social Psychology), Arizona State University, 1989
  • PhD (Sociology), University of Colorado, Boulder, 1993
  • Postdoctoral Studies (Medical Sociology), University of Pittsburgh, 1996

Representative Publications

Switzer GE, Macis M, Fabi R, Abress L, Confer D, Bruce J, Howe K, Fowler S, McNulty M, Pastorek G, Dew MA. Providing level-of-match information to perfectly matched unrelated donors: Evaluating acceptability and potential changes in donor availability. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. 2018;24(10):2110-2118.

This project found that there may be ethical benefits and little harm to providing well-matched donors with more information about their degree of matching.

Switzer GE, Bruce J, Pastorek G, Kiefer DM, Koyusingye H, Drexler R, Besser R, Confer DL, Horowitz MM, King R, Shaw B, van Walraven SM, Wiener L, Packman W, Varni J, Pulsipher MA. Parent versus child donor perceptions of the bone marrow donation experience. Bone Marrow Transplantation. 2017;52(9):1338-1341.

Follow-up analysis in which pediatric donors and parents completed telephone interviews 4 weeks pre-donation and 4 weeks and 1-year post donation found that the majority of parents believed their child’s age made a difference in the donation process experience, believed their child’s age had a positive effect on the donation experience, and linked their child’s experience (positive or negative) to his/her ability to understand the donation process.

Switzer GE, Bruce JG, Kiefer DM, Kobusingye H, Drexler R, Besser RM, Confer DL, Horowitz MM, King RJ, Shaw BE, Riches M, Hayes-Lattin B, Linenberger M, Bolwell B, Rowley SD, Litzow MR, Pulsipher MA. Health-related quality of life among older related HSC donors (>60 Yrs.) is equivalent to that of younger related donors (18-60 Yrs.): an RDSafe study. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. 2017;23(1):165-171.

Data from the Related Donor Safety Study (RDSafe) support the current practice of hematopoietic stem cell donation by sibling donors above age 60, providing no evidence of worsening health-related quality of life up to one year after donation in individuals up to age 76.

Switzer GE, Bruce J, Kiefer DM, Kobusingye H, Drexler R, Besser RM, Confer DL, Horowitz MM, King RJ, Shaw BE, van Walraven SM, Wiener L, Varni JW, Pulsipher MA. Health-related quality of life among pediatric hematopoietic stem cell donors. Journal of Pediatrics. 2016;178164-170.e1.

Longitudinal, multicenter investigation of pediatric allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell donors found that donor children had poorer health-related quality of life than did norms at pre- and shortly postdonation and then return to normative levels by 1 year postdonation.

Click here for a more complete bibliography of Dr. Switzer’s works.

Research Interests

  • Stem-cell donation
  • Registry
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Measurement