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Frank Materia, PhD, MHS

Frank Materia portrait
Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

Professional Background

Dr. Frank T. Materia grew up in the City of Reading, Pennsylvania. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Biobehavioral Health from The Pennsylvania State University, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Translational Science from the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and a Master of Health Science (MHS) degree in Clinical Health Science from Saint Francis University. He moved to Kansas City in 2020 to complete postdoctoral training in community-based health research and implementation science at Children’s Mercy Hospital-Kansas City (CMH), where he was also awarded The American Diabetes Association’s Leveraging Lifestyle for Diabetes Prevention Across the Lifespan Fellowship.

Dr. Materia is a health scientist with expertise in behavioral medicine and health psychology, mobile and digital health program/intervention development, implementation science, chronic disease, and community-based medicine in underserved populations. Throughout his academic career, he has garnered consistent institutional, extramural, and foundation awards to fund his research and training. In 2023, he joined the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) faculty in the Department of Otolaryngology and Center for Health Innovation and Transformative Care (iCenter) as an Assistant Professor. He works directly with faculty, residents, fellows, medical students, and research staff to design, successfully execute, and disseminate all facets of clinical, health services/outcomes, innovation, and population-focused research studies.

Through his leadership in the University of Kansas iCenter, membership in the KUMC/CMH Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition, and various roles in the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Dr. Materia helps to advance collaborative translational health research across multiple disciplines. He has many years of experience in team science, specifically in successfully bridging communication between academic medical researchers, private sector engineers, and clinicians in developing digital health-based monitoring and intervention programs. He is a member of the University of Kansas Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program, as well as the Frontiers Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine where he collaborates closely with the UMKC Community Health Research Group.



Broadly Dr. Materia’s research interests focus on mobile health (i.e., mHealth) and investigating how wireless portable technologies (e.g., smartphones, text messaging, mobile web) can be utilized to deliver (all or portions of) face-to-face clinical and behavioral interventions, as well as monitor biopsychosocial health processes as patients go about their daily lives (e.g., via wearables, apps, momentary self-report methods). This research centers specifically on implementation science in mHealth and aims to evaluate how various patient-centered (e.g., acceptability, age, tech literacy, socioeconomics) and process-specific (e.g., tech design, technical support, healthcare/provider integration) factors affect the successful implementation, uptake, dissemination, and sustainability of digital health programs. The overarching goal of this work is to enhance the reach and affordability of traditional in-person medical care and monitoring for underserved, hard-to-reach patient populations using innovative technologies and methods.

His research grants have a strong focus on developing and/or adapting face-to-face behavioral intervention techniques to go mobile via digital and wearable health technologies. His team has cultivated strong collaborative ties with urban Kansas City faith-based institutions, UMKC’s School of Medicine, The Children’s Mercy Hospital-Kansas City, Jackson County government, urban communities in the Mid-Atlantic region, rural groups in Appalachia, and internationally with low-resource populations in Sub-Saharan Africa.