New Years, New Grantees

our grantees

Meet the Scientists

Our 2019 grantees

Meet the scientists whose research projects, from avocados to high-intensity interval training, were chosen by our 2018 Grant Review Panel for funding starting this New Year.

Paul Spagnuolo

Paul Spagnuolo

University of Guelph
Avocado consumption for the prevention of relapse in acute myeloid leukemia.

Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) accounts for approximately 5% of all childhood cancers. Current drug therapies are effective at killing AML cells but there is a high rate of recurrence after treatment. Researchers at the University of Guelph are investigating a compound, found in avocados, that could specifically target the cancer cells responsible for AML recurrence. Eating only one avocado per day could provide enough of this compound help lower the risk for recurrence of AML.

Wendy Demark

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Daughters, mothers and others against cancer.

Obesity, inactivity and poor diet habits are common among cancer survivors. This project will examine whether habits can be improved using a web- and text-message based initiative that promotes healthy weight, physical activity and a healthful, plant-based diet among cancer survivors and their partners Improving these factors could help prevent cancer in the partners and improve outcomes in cancer patients. The researchers hypothesize that this eHealth-type intervention will significantly improve physical activity and diet quality among both cancer survivors and their partners.

Christina Dieli

Christina Dieli-Conwright

University of Southern California
High-intensity interval training to improve cognitive function in breast cancer survivors undergoing chemotherapy.

I“Chemo brain” is a term used for the thinking and memory problems experienced by many people during and sometimes after chemotherapy. This research will address whether exercise can improve brain function. Participants will follow a 16-week aerobic exercise program designed for breast cancer survivors. The researchers will assess whether this exercise program can significantly reduce the cognitive problems associated with chemotherapy compared to a control group who does not follow the exercise program.

Maryam Farvid

Maryam Farvid

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Beverage consumption and breast cancer survival by molecular subtypes and hormone receptor status.

Drinks can have both positive and negative effects on our health but the impact of beverage choices on the health of cancer survivors is unclear. This study looks to see if the consumption of different types of beverages has an effect in a large group of breast cancer patients. The researchers hypothesize that coffee and tea consumption will improve survivorship, while sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages will have a negative impact.

Erik Nelson

Erik R. Nelson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The impact of a cholesterol metabolite on breast cancer dormancy and recurrence.

Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Breast cancer can recur many years after completion of therapy, and it is believed that long-dormant cancer cells are responsible. There are no evidence-based strategies to prevent these recurrences. This study seeks to examine how dietary cholesterol, and one of its breakdown products, may allow cells to escape from dormancy. The researchers will use established experimental models of cancer dormancy to determine if increased dietary cholesterol reduces the time that the cancer spends dormant in the body.

Vered Stearns

Vered Stearns

Johns Hopkins University
Mechanisms underlying the protective effect of exercise on primary mammary tumor growth and metastases: Role of metabolic and immune-mediated processes.

Women with early stage breast cancer who have obesity at the time of diagnosis or gain weight after diagnosis often experience worse outcomes compared to those in the healthy weight range. This project will test an intervention to help these women who have the most difficulty losing weight. A group of women who do not meet the targeted weight loss after eight weeks of lifestyle changes will be given an FDA approved weight-loss medication and compared to a group of women not given the medication.

Daniel Rosenberg

Daniel Rosenberg

University of Connecticut Health Center
Ellagic acid, urolithins and microbial communities associated with colonic neoplasia.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both sexes in the U.S. The bacteria that live in our digestive tract can dramatically alter how we metabolize our food, including components that may protect us from cancer. This clinical study will examine how gut bacteria affect how patients metabolize ellagic acid into beneficial antioxidants called urolithins. Ellagic acid is commonly found in various fruits and nuts and may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by controlling inflammation in the digestive tract.

Sharon Stack

Sharon Stack

University of Notre Dame
Starving peritoneal metastases to impact ovarian cancer outcomes.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers. This project will address how obesity affects response to therapy in models of ovarian cancer that has spread. The researchers hypothesize that changes in the body due to obesity will impact how tumors continue to grow and spread in the body. They will test whether diet-induced obesity affects response to the current standard treatment and whether a new combination therapy aimed at blocking fat synthesis and use by tumor cells improves response.

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