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UTHSC News: UTHSC Cancer Researcher Part of $3 Million Collaborative Project Studying Obesity-Related Cancer


A University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) researcher is a member of a prestigious team that has just received a highly competitive Endeavor Award totaling $3 million from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research.

Liza Makowski, PhD professor in Hematology and Oncology at the UTHSC Center for Cancer Research, is a co-principal investigator on the award, which funds collaborative projects tackling complex challenges in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Entitled “Inflammatory Drivers of The Obesity-Cancer Connection”, the project is led by principal investigator Jeffrey Rathmell, PhD, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Immunobiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Immunobiology. Along with Dr. Makowski are co-principal investigators Alyssa Hasty, PhD, professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Vanderbilt University, and Kathryn Wellen, PhD, professor of Cancer Biology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Obesity leads to greater risk of developing at least 13 cancers and is associated with worse outcomes for patients after treatment. However, it appears that in some cases, an “obesity paradox” exists wherein obese patients treated with a new type of therapy, immunotherapy, have better responses. How obesity leads to increased and worse cancer, but improved therapeutic outcomes for some is poorly understood.

Read more at our UTHSC news site.