Dr. Adana A.M. Llanos, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Rutgers School Public Health, has received a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to Promote Diversity (Grant No. K01 CA193527) from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Dr. Llanos’ research focuses on advancing knowledge of molecular epidemiology and cancer disparities.
Obesity is clearly associated with poorer breast cancer prognosis, and while the underlying mechanisms are unclear, evidence supports the involvement of adipokine biomarkers (adiponectin, leptin, and their receptors). The overall aim of this five-year NCI K01 grant award for over $700,000 is to uncover potential mechanisms linking obesity and breast cancer. Given that African American women tend to have higher prevalence rates of obesity (which translate into substantially lower circulating adiponectin and higher leptin concentrations) and are more frequently diagnosed with aggressive breast tumors, at a younger age, than Caucasian women, adipokines and their respective receptors are conceivably related to breast cancer disparities. The study will also explore the association between adiposity-related biomarkers within the breast and the triple-negative breast cancer.
“This K01 study will address several important gaps in the current knowledge related to the characterization of triple-negative breast cancers, exploration of racial differences in breast cancer risk factors, and understanding the role of adiposity-related biomarkers within the breast microenvironment and their associations with breast tumor characteristics,” said Dr. Llanos.
Dr. Kitaw Demissie from the Rutgers School of Public Health; Drs. Elisa V. Bandera, Shridar Ganesan, and David Foran from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; and Dr. Christine B. Ambrosone from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute will serve as mentors for the study.