Cancer is the leading cause of death among Latinos—the largest minority group in the U.S.—accounting for 20% of deaths. Latinos experience cancer disparities such as limited access to cancer prevention and control resources, with specific barriers including language, literacy and a lack of cultural sensitivity.
As a Latino immigrant and a medical doctor, I have an unwavering commitment to addressing cancer disparities among Latinos. I believe all people should have a fair and just opportunity to live a longer, healthier life free from cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status or where they live.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death among Latinos. Although lung cancer screening has been shown to reduce deaths, uptake remains low. The Latino community faces specific barriers to accessing lung cancer screening, including language, cost concerns, mistrust of the health care system and a lack of knowledge regarding when to have lung cancer screenings. This creates an urgent need to develop programs that address these issues. In response, we aim to develop and pilot test ¡A todo pulmón! (At the top of one’s lungs!), a text messaging program to increase the uptake of lung cancer screening among Latinos.
This project will be divided in two phases:
This work is guided by community advisory boards that represent the Latino population and ensure that their perspectives are incorporated on all aspects of the study.
Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will help us develop and pilot test a culturally appropriate text messaging intervention to improve lung cancer screening among Latinos.
This project will assess the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary impact of text messaging intervention to improve lung cancer screening rates among Latinos.
My training in human nutrition has always made a point of focusing on prevention in addition to supporting treatment. The recent identification of clonal hematopoiesis as a condition that can assign cancer development risk in otherwise healthy people provided me a promising avenue to apply my nutritional science background to cancer prevention.
The past successes of nutritional interventions in preventing disease such as the fortification of flour products with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects is remarkable and inspiring. As our understanding of how specific cancers initiate, it evolves the opportunity to develop prophylactic nutritional interventions and becomes excitingly more plausible.
Aging is a major risk factor for the development of blood cancer, such as leukemia, due to an increase in the dominance of ineffective blood stem cells. Blood stem cells are necessary for hematopoiesis. (The process of creating all the cells that constitute the blood system.)
Over 6% of all individuals 60 years of age and older who are otherwise free of blood disorders have clonal hematopoiesis. Clonal hematopoiesis is the dominance of ineffective blood stem cells that results in an increased propensity for blood cancer development and poor outcomes once cancer develops. This can be detected from a minimally invasive blood draw; therefore, it presents a truly pre-cancerous state that is easily detectable and in adequate time for intervention. Because the timeline from clonal hematopoiesis detection to disease is unknown, traditional therapies that have side effects, especially when taken for long periods— such as drugs—are not feasible.
I propose the use of dietary interventions as a sustainable and effective cancer preventative strategy to prophylactically treat people with clonal hematopoiesis. Using the zebrafish model—which shares many of the biological features that define the human blood system and allows for high throughput screening of treatments in a whole-body context—I will test dietary interventions to evaluate their influence on slowing clonal hematopoiesis.
I will also combine genome editing techniques to model clonal hematopoiesis along with cutting edge genetic and color cellular barcoding approaches to track the dynamics of individual blood stem cells in response to dietary interventions in real time.
Funding gives me the financial freedom to focus on my cancer prevention research full time in a mentored setting. During this valuable time, I will develop into an independent cancer prevention scientist prepared to train the next generation.
The goal of my work is to develop nutrition-based preventive treatments to be used after an individual is found to have a genetic predictor of cancer. The appeal of nutrition-based interventions is that they typically have less side-effects than traditional drugs and can be safely taken for long durations.
Developing novel strategies for the prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC) is a pressing challenge. Screening by colonoscopy remains the most important and cost-effective strategy in reducing the incidence and mortality of CRC, as treatments have significant side effects. This is particularly the case in Lynch syndrome, an inherited disorder characterized by mutations in DNA repair genes. Patients with Lynch syndrome are predisposed to the development of cancer, including an increased risk for CRC.
Even though there is a genetic predisposition to CRC, the age of onset and rate of progression is highly variable among patients, indicating that there is a strong environmental contribution to the development of CRC. This suggests that there is an urgent need to understand the critical role for modifiable environmental factors, including diet, in disease manifestation.
CRC is one of the most diagnosed and deadliest forms of cancer worldwide. Only a minority of CRC cases are related to a known genetic predisposition, and it is known to have a strong environmental component contributing to its molecular etiology, highlighting a critical role for adjustable behavioral practices that could be modified to support CRC prevention.
CRC incidence is associated with specific dietary patterns, but little is known about diets that promote the prevention or treatment CRC. Therefore, optimizing nutrition for the prevention and therapy of CRC is an urgent goal. This is particularly apparent in Lynch syndrome, where genetic predisposition and lifestyle jointly determine the rate of cancer initiation and progression in the intestine. While the genetic component awaits the development of effective gene therapy approaches, lifestyle interventions that prevent or delay the onset of tumor development are highly attractive for their low cost, non-invasiveness, low toxicity and their ability to combine with existing treatment strategies.
We have recently discovered a new dietary approach for the prevention and treatment of CRC (Dmitrieva-Posocco et al., Nature, 2022). We propose to apply this new knowledge to achieve a better basic understanding of the factors regulating the molecular etiology of CRC in Lynch Syndrome patients. This study may pave the way for a new metabolite-based adjunctive therapy for CRC.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation funding will allow me to conduct research on developing novel strategies for the prevention of colorectal cancer. This study will serve as the stepping-stone for larger follow-up trial in individuals with Lynch syndrome and beyond. If effective, this study will establish a new a low-cost and widely accessible prevention for colorectal cancer.
My hope is that by exploring the concept of using a single metabolite for the prevention of CRC, we will find a new intervention to prevent or delay the growth of colorectal tumors in individuals with a strong cancer predisposition, such as Lynch syndrome patients, and significantly improve their lives.
I spent my first year as a physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. During this time, I witnessed firsthand how impactful cancer research is on the lives of patients and their families impacted from cancer. This led to my pursual of a career in cancer research, right back where I started, but this time as a physician scientist in dermatology research.
As a dermatologist, our clinical mission is to detect cancer as early as possible, without causing undue harm. Research in early detection, including how to improve early detection of skin cancer and reduce potential harms of screening or biases in screening tools, will directly impact our dermatology patients and our profession.
Over the course of this project, we will research how to objectively measure skin tone in a reproducible way, how to label skin tone at scale and how skin tone affects artificial intelligence performance for skin cancer detection. We hope that this will help us better understand when and how to use automated tools for skin cancer detection, and what types of information will make those tools work better in a generalizable way.
As a junior faculty physician scientist, funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will be critical toward building collaborations for long-term scientific endeavors and laying the groundwork for a fulfilling and impactful research career.
I hope that we will be better able to understand potential bias in artificial intelligence algorithms for skin cancer detection after this project is completed.
As a physician scientist, I conduct research to understand how leukemias develop from pre-leukemic precursor conditions to develop better preventive interventions. My interest in cancer research stems from my experience in medical school, closely working with blood cancer patients and my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. I moved to the U.S. to receive training in a cancer research lab and developed myself as a physician scientist. I feel fulfilled when I develop new therapies in the lab and work hard to translate them into clinical studies in the hopes of improving the care of our future patients.
Acute leukemia is an aggressive cancer with significant morbidity and mortality rates. Most patients are transfusion dependent, requiring visits to hospital at least once a week. While our current therapies can cure a fraction of these patients, most patients have high-risk leukemias that can be fatal. In the past 10 years, we have learned a great deal about the pre-leukemic precursor conditions in the blood system which can be detected years before leukemia arises. The goal of my laboratory is to understand the mechanisms driving the progression of precursor lesions into leukemia and develop new approaches to halt this progression.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are aggressive blood cancers that are among the top ten causes of cancer deaths in the U.S. Clonal hematopoiesis (CH) is a well-known precursor lesion to AML and is defined by the presence of genetic abnormalities (i.e., mutations) in the blood cells of an individual, years before they get a clinical diagnosis of blood cancer. Individuals with CH are at 11-times higher risk to develop AML.
Our research has shown that a third of adult patients with ALL also harbor CH-type mutations in their leukemias. We were also able to demonstrate that mutations can exist in blood cells of ALL patients many years before they are diagnosed with leukemia. Since CH can predict the risk of leukemia for both AML and ALL patients, we may have a window of opportunity to implement risk-reduction strategies in high-risk individuals to halt the progression of CH to fatal acute leukemias.
The aim of this project is to have a detailed genetic characterization of CH evolution to help understand the critical pathways driving leukemias, which can then be targeted to prevent leukemia before it happens.
We will explore:
These studies will help us discover the pathways driving leukemias in adults. This will allow us to use risk reduction strategies to prevent leukemia in high-risk patients.
Mechanisms responsible for development of leukemias from precursor lesions, characterized by blood count abnormalities, are currently unknown. Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will allow us to discover the unknown as we perform a large-scale genomic analysis of samples to identify drivers of leukemia progression.
Our goal is to identify new biomarkers and mechanisms responsible for leukemic transformation so that we can develop better models of risk assessment and discover new therapies that focus on prevention through precision medicine. We hope to bring new insights into leukemia prevention and inform physicians taking care of patients who are at high risk for leukemias.
Each year, many children and adults are diagnosed with deadly forms of blood cancer of a type of immune cell known as the B cell. These cancers are particularly difficult and expensive to treat. There is an unmet clinical need in prevention and early diagnosis of B-cell malignancies, especially in people vulnerable to developing these dreadful cancers.
B-cell blood cancers (lymphoma and leukemia) are currently being treated with harsh chemotherapies and/or expensive immunotherapies. Despite being effective, such therapies diminish the quality of life of the patient. Prevention of B-cell malignancies using affordable strategies is key. Patients with B-cell autoimmune diseases and less aggressive forms of lymphoma are at high risk of developing aggressive, hard-to-treat, diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. We will develop an affordable and safe approach that prevents the development of this devastating type of cancer.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive form of blood cancer of a type of immune cell known as the B cell. Unfortunately, around 40% of people with DLBCL do not survive five years and beyond after their initial diagnosis. Safe preventative interventions for DLBCL remain an urgent clinical need. Development of such interventions requires an understanding of how DLBCLs are initiated and established at a molecular level.
During the initiation phase of DLBCL, normal B cells become pre-malignant B cells. These pre-malignant B cells then establish full-blown DLBCL. At this stage, the clinical symptoms of DLBCL become apparent. Our recent studies find that the sex hormone prolactin (PRL), which is elevated during acute and chronic stress in both males and females, initiates and establishes DLBCL. We find that PRL increases the risk of B cells transforming into deadly DLBCL in vulnerable people with autoimmune diseases and in those with milder forms of lymphoma. PRL achieves this by binding to a specific form of its receptor on B cells called the ‘long form prolactin receptor (LFPRLR)’.
Our proposed study will solidify the mechanisms by which PRL, through the LFPRLR, turns B cells malignant and ultimately establishes full-blown DLBCL.
Our findings will inform:
Because most resources are currently concentrated in treating blood cancers rather than preventing them, funds from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will allow us to advance research in blood cancer prevention. Specifically, this support will enable us to conduct essential preclinical studies that strengthen the safety and effectiveness of our proposed approach in preventing diffuse large B-cell lymphomas.
We anticipate that progress made in our study will lead to clinical trials that measure the effectiveness of our candidate agent in preventing diffuse large B-cell lymphomas in people who are at increased risk of developing this cancer.
In the long term, I hope that our affordable prophylactic approach can be used to simultaneously treat the existing B-cell disease in vulnerable people and shield them from developing diffuse large B cell lymphomas.
Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately burdened by cancer. Cancer is among the top two leading causes of death in the U.S. Latino population, accounting for about 2 out of 5 deaths. This population has lower cancer screening rates than any other race or ethnicity. This disparity is exacerbated with a lower overall health care utilization among Hispanics/Latinos. There is an urgent need to address this modifiable factor of low screening rates among this population and reduce cancer-related mortality.
My immediate goal is to identify strategies that will help this target population increase cancer knowledge and screenings. My long-term goal is to make an impact in this community by reducing early mortality rates from cancer. I have conducted several qualitative studies and observed that a large part of this community is disconnected from the U.S. health care system; therefore, they do not use many of the resources available to them.
Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately burdened by cancer and experience structural racism (macro-level conditions that restrict opportunities and resources) as a barrier to cancer prevention and screening.
We want to adapt the successful Project HEAL (Health through Early Awareness and Learning) program for the immigrant Hispanic/Latino community. Project HEAL is an evidence-based intervention in African American faith-based organizations that we developed with support from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. The program trained African American leaders as lay Community Health Advisors (CHAs) to conduct group educational workshops in churches to increase knowledge and screening for breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. It was effective in increasing cancer knowledge overall, as well as colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test and digital rectal exams over 24 months in Black communities.
This project will measure the effectiveness of Project HEAL to increase cancer knowledge and screenings with Hispanic/Latino immigrants. There is a critical need to adapt and determine the effects of Project HEAL on cancer knowledge and screening outcomes among this population.
With the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s funding, we will culturally adapt and implement Project HEAL with Hispanic/Latino immigrants with the goal to address low screening rates among this population and reduce cancer-related mortality. This project will pilot test the effectiveness among this population and will be followed by a larger trial with a larger number of participants.
My hope is that we will observe an increase in cancer knowledge and use of cancer screenings during the pilot test. I hope our evaluation indicates that the intervention is feasible and has efficacy, utility and impact. I hope results from this project will allow for the proposal of a larger trial to achieve a higher impact in a larger population of immigrant Hispanics/Latinos.
I have a great passion for addressing preventable cancers. My family history of colorectal cancer is one of the driving forces behind my interest in cancer research.
There are primary and secondary means for preventing several types of cancer. Getting cancer screenings, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking are some of the key preventive behaviors. I want EVERYONE to be aware of the importance of incorporating cancer prevention behaviors into their lifestyles, especially historically underserved populations who experience excessively high cancer incidence and mortality rates.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Some populations have extremely high lung cancer death rates. For example, African American men in Mississippi have the highest lung cancer death rate in the nation. A screening test can be used to identify lung cancer at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful. When lung cancer is detected in its earliest stages, people have a much higher chance of surviving than when it is detected in later stages. However, the number of people who get yearly lung cancer screenings is very low. For example, only 6.5% of eligible people in the U.S. were screened for lung cancer in 2020.
There is an immediate need to increase routine lung cancer screening among high-risk populations. Currently, there is a lack of effective lung cancer screening awareness programs. Our project aims to increase knowledge about risk factors for lung cancer and promote lung cancer screening among high-risk populations in communities with high lung cancer death rates.
Our program will:
The program participants will also receive personalized text messages to remind them about the importance of getting yearly lung cancer screenings, quitting smoking and staying away from cigarettes and tobacco. We will use a combination of research methods, such as surveys and interviews, to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of the program.
The results of this project will be used to help us develop a more rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of the CHW training program and the lung cancer screening awareness program.
Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will enable me to identify the most effective ways of educating high-risk populations about lung cancer risk factors and lung cancer screening.
The funding will be a catalyst for future lung cancer education interventions that I aim to disseminate in communities with elevated lung cancer mortality rates.
I hope that lung cancer screening rates will increase among high-risk individuals. The funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will enable me to design, implement and evaluate a lung cancer screening awareness intervention that can be scaled up and disseminated widely.
I hope that this intervention will disseminate though evidence-based intervention databases that provides access to effective public health interventions.
While a breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating for women of any age, the prognosis is far worse for pregnant women and young mothers. Current strategies still rely on invasive procedures (e.g., surgery) and treatments that have undesirable side effects. Young women face unique challenges that arise from treatment, which can impact their fertility and young family life. I am particularly interested in cancer prevention, as I believe it has the greatest potential for reducing these cancer-associated morbidities and improving the lives of young women.
My research aims to develop a vitamin D-based ‘post-natal pill’ that can be taken in the three-month window of breast involution that follows weaning to prevent breast cancer in young mothers. The establishment of vitamin D as a breast cancer prevention agent could significantly reduce the incidence of young women’s breast cancer and improve the lives of young women worldwide.
Breast cancer diagnosed within 10 years of pregnancy is defined as postpartum breast cancer and is an aggressive disease with poor survival rates. Significantly, 50% of all breast cancers in young women are diagnosed during this postpartum period, making it a major health problem for young women worldwide. Our research shows that mammary gland involution—the process through which the breast returns to its original, resting state after pregnancy and lactation—contributes to these worse outcomes.
We found that mammary gland involution can be targeted with therapies for breast cancer prevention. Anti-inflammatory drugs given to mice during involution slows breast cancer growth by promoting an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer immune response.
This research project aims to capitalize on this discovery to develop a new approach for preventing young women’s breast cancers.
Our study will:
Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will allow me to conduct my research on the effectiveness of vitamin D for the prevention of a particularly aggressive type of young women’s breast cancer, in a laboratory that is recognized internationally in the field of breast cancer prevention.
My long-term research goals are to establish myself as an independent researcher, with a focus on translating pre-clinical findings into clinical practice. My research investigates the effectiveness of vitamin D, or “the sunshine vitamin,” for the prevention of young women’s breast cancer. The findings from this research will form the groundwork for future clinical trials to assess vitamin D in the prevention of young women’s breast cancer.
My interest in cancer disparities stems from witnessing enormous inequities in access to cancer and cardiovascular disease risk reduction strategies and cancer screening, treatment, palliative care and survivorship services, as well as from documenting the role of social determinants on cancer outcomes. I knew that I had to bring these disparities to the forefront and to develop, study and translate successful community, clinical and policy interventions to overcome them.
My research is devoted to eliminating health disparities by creating bridges between immigrants and other underrepresented and underserved community members and the health care system. This involves improving health care access with culturally and linguistically responsive approaches that are developed in concert with the community. The FITx3 approach may help prevent the unnecessary pain and potential loss that are caused when someone receives a late-stage diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) with poor odds of survival.
CRC is a leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. Black Americans are 20% more likely to get CRC and 40% more likely to die of it than other racial and ethnic groups, and African immigrants may be particularly vulnerable. CRC screening can lead to early detection and improve disease survival.
The FITx3 research project aims to increase access to CRC screening in Black communities with low screening rates. Fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) is a highly effective and potentially more acceptable screening method than colonoscopy. Individuals can mail a FIT sample from home, with follow-up colonoscopy if indicated by test results.
This project will:
If this research is successful, we can use the findings to develop a larger-scale research program for the early detection of CRC in Black communities throughout New York City and then across the U.S.
Funding [from the Prevent Cancer Foundation] will allow me to develop a novel intervention aimed at increasing CRC screening in at-risk Black communities in New York City by empowering community members to promote FIT testing with their friends, families, neighbors and co-workers. It is vital that the use of FIT tests is expanded, according to guidelines, and that communities are empowered to learn about and access FIT testing to reduce the disparity in CRC outcomes between Black and white residents in New York City and throughout the United States.
[My hope with] this research is that this approach to increasing CRC screening in the Black community in Harlem is effective. To determine this, we will look at how many people, beyond the original recruits, complete FIT screening, compared to a control group. If successful, the FITx3 approach may reduce deaths from CRC in medically underserved Black communities.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver cancer and 9th leading cause of cancer-related death. A growing body of research found that obesity and its associated metabolic complications increase the risk of HCC by aggravating diseases pathogenesis and promoting non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and cirrhosis development.
I anticipate that this research in Casp2PIDDosome will provide a new insight into the molecular mechanism underlying liver steatosis, the earliest abnormality found in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients. In addition, I anticipate that blocking Casp2PIDDosome activation will prevent liver steatosis, thereby providing therapeutic advantages to the patients with obesity and NAFLD who are at great risk of developing NASH and HCC in future years.
NAFLD and metabolic syndrome (MS)-associated HCC threaten more than one third of the U.S. population, and MS-HCC ranks globally as the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death. Due to the absence of symptoms, patients with NAFLD are typically diagnosed at the advanced stage, in which partial liver removal or liver transplantation lead to low cure rates due to the frequent recurrence ratio after surgical intervention.
Early detection and therapeutic approaches to prevent NASH and HCC development are considered the best option, along with the discovery of druggable molecules applicable to patients with HCC.
This research will explore the role of PIDDosome, a large molecular platform in which Casp2 is activated, in NASH and HCC development, and will address PIDDosome’s effect on S1P activation and liver fat accumulation.
Funding from Prevent Cancer Foundation will be a great support of explaining a new role of Casp2PIDDosome in obesity-related NAFLD and NASH progression.
The results obtained from this research will become the knowledge basis for the next project that will address how adipocytes and hepatocytes cross-talk and cooperate to regulate metabolic balance under the condition of hyper-nutrition. In addition, data from this research will be used for the National Institutes of Health R01 grant to strongly support my independent research career.
I have always been interested in how people deal with unexpected threats to their health and quality of life. As a clinical health psychologist, my attention was drawn to the dramatic achievements being made by my oncology colleagues in their treatment of cancer. However, it seemed to me that how people cope with these emerging technologies and make challenging decisions about preventing and controlling their personal risk for the disease was just as important as the increasing explosion of medical advances.
My mission has been to bridge the gap between the availability of the often-confusing array of choices available to people and their ability to make informed decisions in the face of stressful and complex information. I have focused my career on improving how messages about cancer risk, diagnosis and survivorship are provided to people to enhance their understanding, improve decision making and facilitate healthy behaviors and quality of life.
Cervical cancer can be prevented and controlled if it is detected before it progresses. Unfortunately, underserved inner city women are less likely to get follow-up care after an abnormal Pap smear test result.
I have developed and tested a telephone counseling intervention that improves the rates of follow-up after an abnormal Pap smear result among urban, medically underserved women. While telephone counseling improves diagnostic behaviors and outcomes, it is difficult to integrate this type of outreach to patients into the clinical setting. My research shows, however, that sending text messages should reach more patients, and not burden healthcare providers.
This project aims to adapt our evidence-based telephone counseling intervention to a new program, the Health Enhancement Resource System (HERS), a text message-based tailored counseling intervention. For those patients who receive the counseling texts but still miss their scheduled follow-up appointment, I will explore whether a health coaching call improves attendance at the clinic.
Study findings will show how feasible, acceptable, and patient-friendly the text message-based tailored counseling intervention is in increasing attendance at the initial screening follow-up appointment. It will also show us how effective additional health coaching calls are for those who still miss their initial appointments.
This grant will fill a gap in the scientific literature by informing us about how to tailor patient follow-up after an abnormal cervical result. The study findings will also improve patient outcomes, in terms of preventing cervical cancer. The results have the potential to change clinical practice, shift research paradigms and impact policy. This research could not be done without grant funding.
My hope is to harness behavioral science to improve the delivery of cancer care, particularly with a view to increasing the delivery of cancer prevention discoveries. The goal is to understand and improve individuals’ understanding of their options and maximize how they make use of that information to carry out prevention and detection behaviors.
Many cancers, like lung cancer, are difficult to treat, but can often be prevented. Similarly, other cancers, like pancreatic or ovarian cancer, respond very poorly to treatment at late stages, when they are most often detected. The principal hope in saving lives from these cancers lies in detecting them early when treatment is most effective.
We developed a 21st century approach to radon education—a smartphone app. Our research compares information delivered via the radon app versus printed brochures. If radon education via our app proves to be superior to traditional means, we will employ our radon app in state and national programs.
Exposure to radon gas at home is the second largest cause of lung cancer, after smoking, and accounts for more than 21,000 deaths per year. Despite this, it has proven difficult to motivate individuals to act against threats like radon that are invisible, colorless and odorless and cause cancer only after a long latent period.
Traditional methods of radon education (brochures) have had little impact on increasing radon testing of homes. This research compares the effectiveness of radon information delivered via the radon smartphone app versus the usual method (printed brochures).
We will compare these two methods for their effectiveness based on how individuals fare on their responses to these different interventions, including measures of:
This research is strategically placed, as North Dakota has the highest residential radon levels in the U.S. and Grand Forks County has the highest radon levels within North Dakota.
Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will permit us to bring the pilot work we have developed into a “real world setting.” Our current work is focused on helping motivate people to test their homes for radon. Because 1 in 15 homes in the U.S. has high radon levels, and most Americans have a smartphone, our research has large implications for lung cancer prevention in the entire U.S.
Approximately 10% of lung cancer deaths are due to radon exposure. Sadly, many people learn about radon only after they have been diagnosed with lung cancer. We are hopeful that this research could have an important role in reducing the rates of lung cancer, which is still the most significant cause of cancer deaths among Americans.
My clinical experience led to my strong interest in cancer research. During my clinical practice, I treated many patients with cancers diagnosed at advanced stages. Unfortunately, some of them died of their cancers despite treatment. I realized that we needed more research.
The proposed study will provide the scientific foundation to further explore possible influences of anti-tumor immunity on early-onset colorectal cancer and ultimately generate strategies to harness the immune system for prevention and early detection, with significant impact on clinical practice. My final goal is to reduce colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in young adults by developing immune-based cancer prevention and early detection strategies based on my studies.
Early-onset colorectal cancer, generally defined as colorectal cancer diagnosed in individuals younger than 50 years of age, has increased worldwide for unknown reasons. While the mortality of later-onset colorectal cancer (diagnosed at age >50) has significantly improved by colonoscopy screening and treatment advances, early-onset colorectal cancer is difficult to prevent, and little is known about whether or how it differs from later-onset colorectal cancer.
Two components of the immune system, T cells and macrophages, play critical roles in the body’s response to colorectal cancer. However, it remains uncertain how these immune cells affect the development of early-onset colorectal cancer.
I will examine differences in immune cells in colorectal cancer between early-onset and later-onset colorectal cancers. I will also look at the effects of immunomodulatory lifestyle factors, such as obesity, physical activity, and marine omega-3 fatty acid intake, on the development of early-onset and later-onset colorectal cancers.
This research will provide scientific evidence on how the immune system is involved in the development of early-onset colorectal cancer.
Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will not only support my research, but will also help me gain more skills and knowledge in cancer epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, image analyses, and machine learning algorithms that are needed to further my research.
The results of my study will provide the scientific foundation to further explore possible influences of anti-tumor immunity on early-onset colorectal cancer and ultimately generate strategies to harness the immune system for prevention of early-onset colorectal cancer.
[My hope] is for my project to impact cancer prevention in the following ways:
• Inform lifestyle and dietary guidelines for cancer prevention, especially among young adults.
• Serve as a model for integrative immuno-epidemiological studies to elucidate the role of lifestyle and diet in anti-tumor immunity for early-onset and later-onset colorectal cancers.
• Aid in the development of novel hypotheses and new strategies of immunomodulation for colorectal cancer prevention.
As a breast surgical oncologist, my interest in cancer research is fueled by the ever-present need for advances and innovation in clinical cancer care, from cancer screening and diagnosis to treatment and prevention. My research focuses on how diet and nutrition affect the development of breast cancer and how changes to diet could be used to prevent cancer.
Taking care of women with breast cancer as well as those at high risk of developing breast cancer has motivated my research efforts to understand how diet and diet quality modulate breast cancer risk. The proposed research will investigate the effects of the common white button mushroom on cellular changes that can lead to cancer.
White button mushrooms (WBM) are the most highly consumed mushroom in the U.S. and worldwide. Health benefits of mushrooms, such as WBM, may include decreased risk of breast cancer based on comparisons of dietary intake of mushrooms in women who have breast cancer relative to those without breast cancer.
Studies also indicate the possibility that WBM may reduce obesity and metabolic problems associated with obesity, such as fatty liver changes. The preventive effects of WBM may be due to improved responses of immune cells (white blood cells) and reduced chronic inflammation, that is, low-grade inflammation associated with obesity and obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
We are investigating WBM as a novel, effective dietary approach to prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women with obesity and increased risk of breast cancer. In a WBM trial with obese women at high risk of breast cancer, we will test blood and breast fat before and after WBM for effects on immune cell and inflammation biomarkers. If successful, the study will support the design of large–scale, multi-institutional clinical trials of WBM for prevention of obesity-associated breast cancer.
Funding [from the Prevent Cancer Foundation] will support our research on WBM as a dietary strategy to decrease the risk of developing obesity-associated breast cancer. The study will evaluate treatment effects on inflammation, which is linked to precancerous changes.
This research will contribute to our understanding of how white button mushrooms might reduce breast cancer risk in obese postmenopausal women who are at high risk of breast cancer. It is our hope that this study will lead to large-scale clinical trials evaluating WBM as a safe and effective dietary intervention for cancer prevention.
My interest in cancer research comes from treating pancreatic cancer patients as a Radiation Oncologist. Since most patients are diagnosed with advanced disease, when chances of cure are extremely low despite current treatments, I often felt frustration and helplessness when treating patients with this disease.
I thought that the best approach to pancreatic cancer is early detection, when cure is most likely, as opposed to attempting to improve therapeutic options for advanced stage disease. My research proposes a model which can identify people at high-risk of pancreatic cancer for whom to recommend screening, which can potentially save lives.
There is a critical need for an effective pancreatic cancer screening tool.
Successful screening programs exist for people with a family history of the disease or inherited genetic mutations only. Screening the general population is not feasible because it is a relatively rare disease and the process is invasive and expensive.
Studies have shown that people who eventually develop pancreatic cancer experience early signs and symptoms such as stomach pain, weight loss, diabetes, depression, and many others. Individually, each of these is relatively common or vague, or just not specific enough to alarm of pancreatic cancer development.
We found that when we programmed a computer to learn the unique combination of multiple symptoms of cancer patients (“Machine Learning”), it was able to apply it to a new population and identify some of those at risk of developing cancer, a year before they eventually do.
We aim to improve risk prediction in two ways:
Funding will improve our prediction model and allow us to use a much larger database to incorporate additional information. We can establish a study to test our model in real-time and add additional testing to decrease the number of people incorrectly identified as high-risk to avoid stress and unnecessary imaging.
It is my goal to better understand our model’s ability to accurately identify high-risk individuals. This could lead to increased rates of early detection of pancreatic cancer, enable surgical treatment and significantly increase the cure rates from this disease.
As a pulmonologist, I am uniquely poised to identify patients at high risk for lung cancer and promote screening, early detection and tobacco treatment counseling for eligible individuals. My clinical experience guiding patients through lung nodule management and lung cancer diagnosis, which are often emotionally charged events, has led to my committed research focus on early detection of lung cancer. I hope that by facilitating lung cancer screening among high-risk individuals, we can save more lives from lung cancer.
Despite the advent of lung screening to identify cancers at early, curable stages, many disparities exist in screening uptake and adherence. This project will identify and develop strategies to overcome financial, technological, and other barriers for vulnerable populations to ultimately increase early detection of lung cancer.
Lung cancer is responsible for nearly 25% of cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT (LDCT) scan, however, has transformed the landscape of lung cancer survival by identifying cancers at an earlier, potentially curable stage. Although large clinical trials have demonstrated a reduction in lung cancer mortality with LDCT, many studies report that less than 10% of eligible individuals have been screened.
Our project aims to improve lung cancer screening adherence among Black/African American patients by identifying specific cost-and convenience-related barriers and designing approaches to overcome these hurdles.
Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will allow our group to improve equity in lung cancer screening efforts among vulnerable populations. More specifically, we can develop a research program to investigate early detection and intervention strategies for patients at high risk for developing lung cancer.
This research will identify cost-and convenience-related barriers to lung cancer screening among vulnerable populations, develop strategies to overcome them and implement approaches to help high-risk patients return year after year for low-dose CT scans.
I am particularly interested in cancer prevention and early detection since advances in this area can directly translate to simple yet lifesaving behavioral changes for our community. It is exciting to realize that with simple outreach to our public with information about the steps they can take to adopt good practices for cancer prevention and screening, we can help reduce cancer rates.
This proposal is relevant to melanoma prevention and early detection as it studies how skin damaged by UVR can predict melanoma risk in children of different genetic makeup. Our work will identify high risk groups and prove the value of our tools in personalized melanoma prediction and prevention.
Melanoma is a deadly cancer.
Fortunately, melanoma is highly preventable and treatable if detected early. We will investigate new ways of measuring UVR damage in the skin and we will study how sunburns and UVR exposure causes this damage depending on the genetic makeup of an individual. Here, we will study how skin damage by UVR can be used in groups of people of different complexions to promote more mole formation, as moles are considered signals for melanoma risk. Our work will identify high-risk groups and inform us on how to prevent melanoma in those who are most likely to get it.
Funding [from the Prevent Cancer Foundation] will advance our research on the physical outcomes of sun damage. Without the award we would not be able to conduct this new aspect of our long-standing skin cancer and melanoma risk program.
We will be able to include these sun damage measures in studies of melanoma patients to see if we can learn something about melanoma age of onset, clinical subtype or other clinical features to better monitor or manage melanoma risk.
As a young medical student, I was asked to write a thesis on the subject “Evidence-Based Medicine” and was given a list of 100 related topics to choose from. When I saw the topic “Should PSA-testing become men’s mammography?” I knew immediately that this is what I wanted to learn more about. I was curious about the evidence behind PSA screening for prostate cancer, as I knew there were well-established population-based screening programs for, for example, breast cancer and cervical cancer, but none for prostate cancer at the time.
My long-term goal is to make a difference by discovering new knowledge and disseminating the knowledge we already have into clinical practice, [in hopes] of reducing the harms of screening for our patients.
Despite prostate cancer being the most common male cancer, screening for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test remains controversial because screening has both benefits and harms:
We developed a decision support software for PSA screening and programmed it into the physicians’ electronic health record.
The tool had 3 parts:
We found strong support for this tool from the physicians who were very satisfied with it. The current application is a continuation of this work where we now wish to do a larger study within the primary care network, to test the usefulness of this innovative technology as compared to no tool. We want to study if the tool helps physicians improve screening for men who are most likely to benefit.
The goal of PSA screening is to find and treat fast-growing prostate cancer before it spreads and becomes life-threatening.
[My hope with] this research is to help doctors conduct PSA screening in accordance with the most authoritative evidence-based guidelines. This research is significant because adherence to PSA testing guidelines that are based on levels of cancer risk has the potential to fundamentally shift the balance between benefits and harms of screening, thereby substantially impacting early detection of prostate cancer.
After receiving a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, my career goal was to contribute to research in a manner that would have a direct impact on decreasing human disease…. When my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I became motivated to work even harder to prevent this devastating disease.
Lynch Syndrome is the most common genetic cause of colon cancer in people under age 50, [and]… we do not currently have a way to stop the disease… If successful, this clinical study will also be the first to select an optimal cancer preventive agent for a patient based on their prior history of colon polyps/cancer. [Note: Lynch Syndrome is also associated with ovarian and endometrial cancers.]
Findings indicate that the cholesterol-lowering agent atorvastatin (Lipitor) dramatically decreases the formation of early colon lesions in mice when given before any evidence of polyps or cancer. Atorvastatin decreases colon tumor development in mice with existing tumors only when given in combination with low dose aspirin, as determined by colonoscopy. The goal of the present study is to determine if atorvastatin (Lipitor), like aspirin, can reduce the risk of colon cancer in humans with Lynch Syndrome.
A second study goal is to determine if subjects found the study procedures (e.g., taking medication) acceptable and were able to complete all drug doses.
Funding will allow me to finish the proposed clinical trial in subjects with Lynch Syndrome who are known to be at very high risk for cancer. I can determine if the drugs are providing protection to the colons of these high-risk subjects and examine tissues and blood samples for potential adverse effects associated with the intervention.
This research will provide new insight into the impact of Lipitor (with/without aspirin) on the biological events that contribute to colon cancer development in patients with Lynch Syndrome and help develop new and better options for cancer prevention in high-risk patients.
As a practicing clinician in gastroenterology, the need to more effectively prevent and treat cancer was immediately evident and palpable to me…. I am especially interested in cancer prevention because this is the best strategy to alleviate the suffering and burden that results from cancer.
Our studies have the potential to identify cancer-causing esophageal bacteria, which could lead to novel and improved ways to prevent cancer through more accurate cancer risk prediction. Our studies could also lead to novel antibiotic or probiotic cancer prevention treatments for esophageal cancer.
For our research, we will:
We will identify potential cancer-causing bacterial species in three groups of patients:
We will characterize the esophageal microbiomes and potential cancer-causing bacteria… [and] then use these results in a second set of studies in the group of Barrett’s esophagus patients who progressed or did not progress to esophageal adenocarcinoma to validate and further extend our initial results.
We will then use the only known prospective natural history cohort study of Barrett’s esophagus– a tremendous strength of our proposal – to determine what types of bacterial communities and specific bacterial species in the esophagus are associated with BE and indicate a high risk for esophageal adenocarcinoma.
This research could lead to low-risk therapies that would prevent many of the 20,000 deaths that occur each year from esophageal cancer.
This research helps to uncover novel ways to prevent esophageal, stomach and colon cancers and facilitates our understanding of how the microbiome of the gut affects cancer risk in the esophagus.
I am hopeful that the results from our studies will lead to the following: 1) novel risk markers for esophageal cancer that can be used to personalize esophageal cancer prevention programs, and 2) potential novel therapeutic strategies aimed at the microbiome, such as antibiotics or probiotics, for preventing esophageal cancer.
I am a behavioral scientist and I am interested in how lifestyle behaviors such as diet and physical activity impact health outcomes. Cancer is one of these health outcomes that is at least partially impacted by the daily behaviors of individuals throughout the course of their lives. I’m focused on helping people acquire the tools they need to make the healthy choice an easier choice.
New cases of liver cancer continue to increase in Hispanics, partially due to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Treatment for NAFLD includes weight loss, so by helping Hispanic NAFLD patients lose weight, we can prevent future cases of NAFLD-related liver cancer.
Treatment for NAFLD involves lifestyle behavior change. However, changing these behaviors and losing weight is difficult and typically requires additional help from health care or other professionals. The goal of this project is to develop an engaging and culturally-appropriate intervention for Hispanic NAFLD patients that will help them lose weight. This process begins by having discussions with Hispanic NAFLD patients to identify an appropriate intervention format and delivery, and address Hispanic culture and concerns about NAFLD specifically.
Upon finalizing the behavioral lifestyle intervention, I will:
I am looking to expand my current research on lifestyle behavior change in Hispanics to develop a better understanding of NAFLD-specific interventions in this community. Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will allow me to have in-depth conversations with Hispanic adults with NAFLD to better understand their experiences living with the condition and how they can be best supported.
My research will develop a targeted, culturally-sensitive lifestyle intervention that is acceptable to and helpful for Hispanic adults with NAFLD. I want to show how managing NAFLD early and effectively can help prevent negative liver-related outcomes and liver cancer.
When I think about my patients, knowing that there might be a way to prevent them from having to undergo treatments drives my desire to find out how. Identifying and acting upon modifiable risk factors to reduce the incidence of cancer would keep medical costs down and allow people to enjoy their lives without having to go through cancer treatment.
We aim to reverse carcinogenic effects of environmental/occupational metal exposures that can lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by detoxifying metals in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), or “pre-leukemia,” as a novel cancer prevention method.
Toxic metal contamination of our food and water causes multiple cancers and is worsening around the globe, yet it receives very little attention from the medical community. For example, children living within two miles of the Houston Ship Channel, a metal-polluted region, had a 56% higher rate of acute leukemia than those living ten miles away.
Toxic metals can be removed from the blood and bone marrow by a process called “chelation,” using FDA-approved medications that are inexpensive and have a long history of safety.
We will optimize metal detoxification during standard MDS therapy. We will establish optimal dosing and determine whether removing toxic metals from patients with the pre-leukemia MDS can prevent progression to AML.
This funding will allow me to continue to expand our ongoing clinical trial to reverse and inhibit the cancer-causing effects of metal exposures that can lead to AML.
This research may have significant implications for the prevention of AML.
This study will help us understand the impact of reducing toxic metals on the development of AML and possibly on cancer prevention in general.
By monitoring toxic metals, general practitioners may be able detect increased cancer risk and possibly reduce that risk before a patient ever develops cancer.
My interest in cancer research sprung directly from working in the clinic with children with brain tumors. Unfortunately, current survival rates and therapy-induced long-term side effects cause significant suffering for these children and their families. I am striving to improve these realities in the future.
While it is important to try to discover new, more effective and less toxic therapies, the ultimate achievement of that goal would be to prevent the need for treatment in the first place. Thus, cancer prevention, while a difficult ambition, represents the ultimate accomplishment in cancer research.
Brain cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children. We hypothesize that brain cancer formation is correlated with microsatellite variations at specific regions in the DNA close to genes.
A previous analysis of medulloblastoma patient germline DNA (from the body, not from the tumor), identified variations in 139 microsatellites regions that are significantly associated with the presence of the tumor, compared to DNA from healthy individuals. Therefore, these cancer-associated microsatellites existed before the tumor was formed and suggest a role in cancer predisposition. A signature group of 43 of these microsatellites was capable of distinguishing children with medulloblastoma from healthy controls with a high degree of accuracy.
Our study aims to:
For children whose cancer develops too quickly for environmental factors to play a role, it’s important to study genetics. Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will allow us to genotype children with brain tumors to further understand this landscape.
This research will identify a signature set of DNA elements whose sequences determine those at risk for developing the most common malignant brain tumors. We will also explore the cellular effect of those DNA elements that underpin the mechanisms of tumor formation. In that way, we will be able to identify those children at risk and begin to gain an understanding of how we might prevent their tumors from forming. If successful, this proposal will the provide the means to determine which children are at increased risk and would thus be eligible for screening.
I won an undergraduate fellowship to conduct research at the Advanced Center for Treatment and Research in Cancer (ACTREC) in Mumbai. I was exposed to cancer biology for the first time and was able to see how researchers working with clinicians could truly make an impact on human lives. Subsequently, I joined McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison to pursue a Ph.D. in tumor virology.
While the skin microbiome encounters the same UVB exposure as the skin, the effects of UVB on skin microbiome is unexplored. By exploring host-microbiome interactions during UVB-associated skin cancers, we can uncover a novel class of biomarkers and therapeutics for prevention of skin cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), specifically squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), represent the most commonly diagnosed skin cancers. The UVB spectra of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sun exposure is a well-established skin stressor and causative agent of skin SCCs. The skin is colonized by a lot of microbes that help maintain epithelial homeostasis and encounter the same UVB exposure as the skin. However, skin microbiome remains an untapped resource to develop new preventive strategies.
My research will:
This work allows me to develop an independent area of research where I can study the impact of microbiome in the context of UVB-associated cancers and create a framework guided by transcriptomic approaches that can help prevent skin cancer by modulating host-microbiota interactions.
The cancer burden continues to grow globally, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems. Many health systems in low- and middle-income countries are unprepared to manage this burden... As I grew [up] in India, which is a developing economy, I was continuously motivated to develop strategies to prevent cancer.
This research will use innovative approaches to identify host and microbial biomarkers to provide prevention and diagnostic targets for UVB-associated skin cancers and develop low-cost cancer prevention therapeutics that leverage host-microbiota interactions.