Spotlight on Nutrition and Physical Activity Grantees

Following are some of the nutrition and physical activity investigators currently funded by the American Cancer Society who are working to find the answers that will save more lives and better prevent, treat, and manage cancer.

Elena J. Ladas, PhD, RD, Columbia University Medical Center

Ladas is investigating why obesity increases in children and adolescents undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In the first study of its kind, she is researching how best to curb childhood obesity during ALL treatment and is examining the effects of childhood obesity on both prognosis and recurrence. Ladas hopes her findings will lead to nutritional guidelines children with cancer.

Larkin L. Strong, PhD, MPH, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Strong is studying how physical and social environments contribute to physical activity and sedentary behaviors, with a focus on minority and underserved populations. She hopes her findings will help inform programs and policies that promote health in communities.

Derek M. Griffith, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Griffith developed the Mighty Men community-based research approach to explore the psychosocial, cultural, and environmental determinants of African American men’s health and well-being. The program focuses on weight reduction, healthy eating, physical activity, and screening. The Mighty Men plan uses personalized goals and messages combined with self-monitoring techniques, small group training, and community resources. Griffith’s unique program encourages health behavior changes and sustained weight loss by increasing physical activity levels and healthy eating.

Elizabeth Lyons, PhD, MPH, University of Texas Medical Branch

Lyons is investigating the use of technology to promote physical activity. She is using technology-based interventions such as electronic activity monitors, video games, and mobile phones to motivate breast cancer survivors, sedentary postmenopausal women, and other populations at increased or unique risk for negative effects of inactivity.

Dorothy Pekmezi, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Pekmezi is testing a home-based individually-tailored physical activity print (HIPP) intervention in underserved populations. The HIPP program uses goal setting, self-monitoring, and problem-solving to increase physical activity levels and help prevent chronic disease. Pekmezi will use the results of this study to better understand physical activity's role in cancer prevention and reduce cancer risks and related health disparities.

Sonia de Assis, PhD, Georgetown University

Assis is studying how the lifestyle choices of a parent can influence the health and disease of future generations. She and her colleagues already discovered a connection between a father’s body weight and risk of breast cancer in daughters, in a study of mice. Assis is furthering this research with additional studies in animals and humans. She hopes her findings will lead to a better understanding of all the ways in which the health choices of one generation may impact the next.

From Our Researchers

The American Cancer Society employs a staff of full-time researchers who relentlessly pursue the answers that help us understand the relationship between nutrition and physical activity and cancer.