Meet #UMBSocial Speaker – Dr. Sherry Pagoto

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Dr. Sherry PagotoDr. Pagoto is a great friend of UMB Social, and we are excited that she is scheduled to speak at our 4th #UMBSocial on May 14th.  Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a clinical psychologist by training.  My work is primarily in research but I also see patients and teach courses on research methods and team science.  My research is focused on obesity and cancer prevention. In my research, I have been examining how to leverage mobile technology and social media as ways to improve public health. 

2. When did you start to work in social media? 

I launched a patient-oriented weight loss blog at and joined Twitter 3 years ago. I became fascinated by all of the patient communities on social media. This inspired me to research the role of social media in health behavior change as well as how social media can be leveraged to conduct preventive counseling and disseminate public health campaigns. Because academics have been slow to embrace social media I now conduct social media workshops around the country for academics and health care professionals. Check it out: 

3. How does a typical work day of you look like? 

I spend a lot of time writing grants and manuscripts so I can be found pecking away at my computer at home, a café, or in my office.  Otherwise I’m taking conference calls, in research team meetings, or teaching a class. I sneak out for at least one hour every single day for exercise.  I travel a fair bit to give talks, go to conferences, and collaborate with colleagues.  

4. Do you have a role model in social media. Someone who inspires you? 

My favorite blogger is Dr. David Katz because he is one of few who has the perspective of both a researcher and clinician and who is not promoting a personal agenda. 

5. What is the hardest thing about social media? 

People who have no real training or expertise who pose at experts. I also wrote a blog post on about the downsides to participating in social media.

6. What do you see as some up-and-coming trend in social media? 

I am fascinated by “peer-to-peer healthcare” a trend in which patients are using social media to connect with other patients as well as health care providers and organizations in an attempt to educate themselves about their health. 

7. Can you name us a brand or company that you admire for their great social media strategy/execution? 

The Mayo Clinic is certainly a leader in health care social media. 

8. Did you make any social media mistakes in the past or is there anything you would avoid in future?

My biggest mistake is disobeying my best friend’s advice: “In the face of invincible ignorance, walk away.”  I have gotten sucked into fruitless debates.  I am learning when to walk away though.  

9. To be successful in social media, you need to ….? 


10. What is your favorite book and why? 

I loved the Marie Curie biography written by her daughter Eve Curie.  Madame Curie is a rare example of a monumental achiever who has genius, integrity, and grace. 

11. What is your favorite quote? 

“It’s not one thing or the other, it’s all things all at once.”  Gary Lightbody

12. What is your favorite movie and why? 

Any movie that makes me feel something, think differently, and want to talk about it for hours. This describes my favorite people too.

13. Where can we find more about you and you work?

Here is my About Sherry page on my blog: and my university webpage:


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