Center for Cancer Prevention by Dietary Botanicals

The Center for Cancer Prevention by Dietary Botanicals works to identify, characterize and evaluate the use of dietary botanicals for the prevention of colorectal cancer. The center integrates botanical, chemical, molecular biological and clinical approaches while facilitating interdisciplinary preclinical research and translating preclinical insights into improved clinical prevention strategies for colorectal cancer. Our focus is not only on the complex chemical mixture that constitutes one botanical in the diet but the combination of three botanicals routinely encountered together in the Indian diet: Curcuma longa (turmeric), Piper nigrum (black pepper), and Zingiber officinale (ginger).

Specifically, the center brings together a multidisciplinary research team that systematically evaluates the mechanism of action of three botanicals, singly and in combination, at the cellular, molecular, and (epi)genetic levels in vitro; the relative bioactivity and bioavailability of botanicals and their active ingredients; the preclinical safety and efficacy of these botanicals in multiple animal models; and the tolerability and safety of these botanicals in human subjects. 

Long term, the Center aims to strengthen the evidence that these botanicals favorably affect colorectal cancer carcinogenesis and thus to increase the biodiversity and health benefits of the American diet. The ultimate goal is to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer globally.


The Center is noteworthy for several innovative features, such as:

  • The abundance of research methodological expertise brought together under one umbrella: technology (analytical phytochemistry, molecular and biochemical fingerprinting, gene expression arrays, methylation microarrays and microRNA profiling), preclinical models (animal models of spontaneous carcinogenesis, human tissue recombinant xenografts and Bayesian modeling of '-omics' data sets) and clinical trials (all M.D.s on the project are recognized leaders in the prevention and/or treatment of colorectal cancer).
  • The unique and specific expertise of personnel, most of whom have worked together on other research activities and at this Center with inflammatory signaling, genomics, stem cells, chemoprevention, complementary medicine, botanicals in clinical trials (key personnel include leaders of ongoing clinical trials of curcumin and novasoy) and pharmacological testing (preclinically and in pharmacokinetic clinical trials).
  • The collaboration between recognized centers of cancer expertise (MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas), academic medicinal plant research (Stephen F. Austin State University, College of Forestry and Agriculture, in Nacogdoches Texas), and industry research (McCormick Science Institute).
  • Support from a world-leading program at MD Anderson that focuses on integrative oncology and excels in clinical care, education and research.