Project Description

Adam Nelson

Adam Nelson is a T32 Predoc Fellow-I am a PhD candidate in the Laboratory of Dr. Erik Nelson in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. My work is aimed at investigating how compounds that individuals are exposed to through their diet can contribute to the re-awakening of dormant cancer cells, with a specific focus on breast cancer. Cancer cells that migrate from primary tumors to distal sites can often remain in a state of dormancy for prolonged periods. While the precise mechanisms are still not fully understood, these cells can eventually “break” dormancy leading to metastatic outgrowth and clinical relapse. As the majority of breast cancer patient mortality is due to metastatic outgrowth, identifying factors that contribute to the “breaking” of dormancy is of paramount importance. I am particularly interested in how the preparation of high cholesterol cured foods, such as bacon, may contribute to escape from tumor dormancy. Frying of such foodstuffs can produce cholesterol derivatives known to promote breast cancer growth and metastasis, as well as carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds (NOCs). The data gathered from this work not only has the potential to provide crucial mechanistic insights in regard to how cancer cells can re-awaken from a dormant state, but could also demonstrate how lifestyle habits could play a crucial role in reducing breast cancer recurrence.