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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH

Professor, Department of Nutrition
Nutrition Research Institute and
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Current Research

Obesity has emerged as an important risk and prognostic factor for several types of breast cancer.  Dr. Hursting’s BCRF-supported studies suggest that moderate weight loss may be insufficient to reverse the cancer-associated metabolic and inflammatory perturbations that occur with chronic obesity. This year, Dr. Hursting continues his collaboration with BCRF researcher Dr. Carol Fabian in testing a combination of moderate weight loss with one of several additional interventions that have the potential to have high translational impact, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent sulindac. They will also compare these regimens with a type of bariatric surgery called sleeve gastrectomy in an experimental model of breast cancer.  They anticipate that the metabolic reprogramming and severe weight loss (~25 percent of peak weight) associated with the bariatric surgery will be the most potent anti-cancer intervention, and that anti-inflammatory interventions combined with moderate weight loss will also reduce the obesity-related mammary tumor burden in their laboratory model. These studies continue to build on the collaborative efforts of Drs. Hursting and Fabian in linking preclinical and clinical research on breast cancer prevention.


Dr. Stephen Hursting is Professor in the Department of Nutrition and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC-Chapel Hill and Professor at the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis, NC. He earned his PhD in nutritional biochemistry and MPH in nutritional epidemiology from the UNC-Chapel Hill, and he completed postdoctoral training in molecular carcinogenesis and cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Prior to joining the UNC faculty in 2014, Dr. Hursting was Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and Professor of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center (2005-14). He also served as Deputy Director of the NCI’s Office of Preventive Oncology and Chief of the NCI’s Nutrition and Molecular Carcinogenesis Laboratory Section (1999-2005). His research interests center on diet-gene interactions relevant to cancer prevention, particularly the molecular and metabolic mechanisms underlying obesity-breast cancer associations, and the interplay between obesity, diabetes and breast cancer risk and response to therapy. Primarily using specially engineered laboratory models of breast cancer in parallel with breast cancer prevention trials (in collaboration with Dr. Carol Fabian at the Kansas Cancer Center), he is currently focusing on the molecular and metabolic changes occurring in response to lifestyle-based (dietary and physical activity), or pharmacologic manipulation of energy metabolism and cell signaling pathways, with emphasis on the IGF-1/Akt/mTOR and Wnt signaling pathways as well as inflammation. He also has expertise in assessing diet-related serum and tissue biomarkers, including hormones/growth factors, cytokines and chemokines, and microRNA’s in mouse and human samples.