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Adjunct Investigator

Center for Precision Health Research

Associate Director

Behavioral Research Program (National Cancer Institute)


B.A., Northwestern University

Ph.D., Princeton University


Dr. Klein is an adjunct investigator in NHGRI’s Center for Precision Health Research where he collaborates on several projects involving genetic risk communication. His main appointment is as associate director of the National Cancer Institute's Behavioral Research Program. Dr. Klein's research interests include self-judgment, risk perception and risk communication. He has been interested in how risk perception biases are related to the processing of health communications, to health decision-making and to health behavior; how social processes influence responses to personalized risk communication; the influence of affective factors and ambiguity on health decisions; and the role of optimism in health behavior and psychological functioning. In recent work, he has studied genetic testing decisions. Dr. Klein's work has appeared in over 200 peer-reviewed articles and has been supported by NCI, the National Science Foundation and several private foundations.

Dr. Klein completed his B.A. in psychology and mathematical methods in the social sciences at Northwestern University (1987) and his Ph.D. in social psychology at Princeton University (1991). In 2002, he became a member of the graduate faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in the social psychology and biological and health psychology programs. There, he was director of undergraduate studies and a recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award for undergraduate and graduate teaching in the areas of social psychology, health psychology and decision-making. Prior to 2002, Dr. Klein was chair of the psychology department at Colby College.

Dr. Klein is currently adjunct faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the joint NIH/Hopkins Genetic Counseling graduate program, where he teaches a graduate course on health judgment and decision making. Dr. Klein co-chairs the Cognitive, Affective and Social Processes in Health Research (CASPHR) working group at NCI and is vice chair of an interagency workgroup focusing on behavioral and social science research.


Klein WMP, Ferrer RA, Kaufman AR. How (or Do) People "Think" About Cancer Risk, and Why That Matters. JAMA Oncol, 2020 Jul 1; 6(7):983-984.

Klein WMP, Jacobsen PB, Helzlsouer KJ. Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Clinical and Research Implications. JAMA, 2019 Dec 13.

Klein WMP, Rothman AJ, Suls J; NCI Cognitive, Affective, and Social Processes in Health Research (CASPHR) Working Group. Bridging Behavioral Science with Cancer Prevention and Control: Contributions of an NCI Working Group (2009-2019). Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2020 Apr; 13(4):337-342.

Klein WMP, McBride CM, Allen CG, Arredondo EM, Bloss CS, Kaphingst KA, Sturm AC, Wang C. Optimal Integration of Behavioral Medicine into Clinical Genetics and Genomics. Am J Hum Genet, 2019 Feb 7; 104(2):193-196.

Klein WMP, O'Connell ME, Bloch MH, Czajkowski SM, Green PA, Han PKJ, Moser RP, Nebeling LC, Vanderpool RC. Behavioral Research in Cancer Prevention and Control: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2021 Jul 7.

Last updated: March 22, 2022