Research and Clinical Programs
The Institute is investing in research to discover how biologic, genetic, environmental, behavioral and social factors impact cancer development, investigate interventions to reduce cancer risk and translate therapies to help patients in our clinics and in the community.
Integrative Health Initiative
Co-directors: Therese Bevers, M.D., Medical Director, Cancer Prevention Center; Gabriel Lopez, M.D., Medical Director, Integrative Medicine Center; Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., Professor, General Oncology; Ernest Hawk, M.D., Vice President, Cancer Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences
The mission of the Integrative Health initiative (IHI) is to optimize health, quality of life, and clinical outcomes of patients and families through exceptional clinical care, research, and education in integrative health services across the cancer continuum of prevention, active treatment, and survivorship. The IHI expands MD Anderson’s multidisciplinary care model and recognized leadership in medical, radiation and surgical oncology treatment to include additional evidence-based behavioral and complementary clinical services for cancer prevention, and treatment as well as survivorship care. By providing personalized services tailored to individual patient needs, the IHI aims to achieve better patient health outcomes.
Domains of Care: Based upon collaborative contributions from colleagues across the institution, the IHI provides evidence-based, personalized services in five lifestyle-associated areas: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Tobacco Treatment, Psychosocial Needs, and Complementary Therapies. The IHI aims to provide clinical services in these five domains across the entire cancer continuum: prevention, active treatment, and survivorship.
Prevention Patients and Cancer Survivors: The goal in this patient population is to prevent the development or recurrence of cancer, with emphasis placed on assisting patients in adopting a healthy lifestyle. Since the Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Clinic’s (CPC) core patient population consists of at-risk patients as well as cancer survivors, the CPC is the ideal location for providing IHI clinical services. In 2013, the CPC established its Healthy Living Clinic and recently expanded its services to include the Healthy Living Weight Loss Program.
Patients in Active Treatment: For patients who are currently undergoing active treatment for a cancer diagnosis, the goal is to maximize therapeutic benefit while minimizing adverse side effects. The Integrative Medicine Center (IMC) is the ideal location to provide IHI services to this patient population as IMC physicians and staff work closely with the patient’s primary oncology team to incorporate integrative therapies into patients’ conventional cancer care.
Seed Funding Research Program
The Institute's Seed Funding Research Program provides financial support to investigators working to generate the preliminary data necessary to improve competitiveness for extramural support for larger and innovative hypothesis-driven studies. Funding is awarded through a peer review process.
Awards are available to faculty throughout MD Anderson and support work across the continuum of cancer prevention research, from early detection to survivorship.
In addition, we provide support to focused programs including Survivorship Seed Funding, the Cancer Center Support Grant Seed Funding Program to foster inter-programmatic collaborations between program members in the Risk, Detection and Outcomes and Cancer Prevention programs, and a Duncan Family Institute/UHAND (University of Houston/MD Anderson Cancer Center) collaborative seed funding program in cancer prevention and risk assessment disparities research to advance health equity for Black and Hispanic groups.
Initiatives previously supported by the Duncan Family Institute include:
Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship
Co-directors: Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., Professor, Behavioral Science; Joya Chandra, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Pediatrics-Research
The Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship was founded to help bridge the gaps in knowledge surrounding the relationships between physical activity, nutrition, obesity, and cancer. Advances in the energy balance research field will be used to optimize interventions to modify unhealthy behaviors, decrease cancer risk and improve cancer outcomes, and implement practice changes in the clinic and community. By fostering a collaborative, trans-disciplinary environment, our research will contribute to cancer prevention and impact human health by providing state-of-the-science knowledge in cancer prevention and survivorship–related interventions; mechanisms by which key energy balance concepts affect cancer initiation, progression, and metastasis; and the biological and psychosocial mechanisms behind weight, eating behavior, and physical activity.
The Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship endeavors to advance the science and practice of cancer prevention and survivorship by identifying and addressing knowledge gaps, facilitating collaborations, and disseminating evidence-based energy balance programs in clinical and community settings. The research services provided by the Center include consultation with the director, exercise physiologist, and/or research dietitian, referral to potential collaborators through the Center’s investigator network, and facilitated workgroup sessions to develop research ideas.
Center for Translational and Public Health Genomics
The Center for Translational and Public Health Genomics (CTPHG) was created to bridge the gap between epidemiologic discoveries and their translation into clinical and public health applications to benefit cancer patients, individuals at elevated risk for cancer, and the general population. The Center leverages MD Anderson’s large patient population and its well-established foundation of cutting-edge translational research to advance biomarker research through the generation of risk models and clinical tools that can guide approaches in cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivorship.
Premalignant Genome Atlast
Approximately 80% of all human cancers arise in the cells that line the surfaces and cavities of the body's organs (epithelial cancers). The progression from healthy cells to cancer is a multi-step process, from normal cells, to premalignant lesion, and to malignant tumor, often involving accumulation of genetic and chemical alterations in tissues over many years. This process makes the early detection and prevention of cancer possible. However, progression does not occur at the same rate, if at all, in each individual. The mission of the Premalignant Genome Atlas Program (PGA) is to assess the spectrum of factors contributing to the progression from healthy individuals to those with precancerous lesions to cancer patients and determine the molecular changes along this continuum. This information can be used to: build models to predict risk of cancer progression, identify targets for prevention therapies, and find markers of prevention response. Because cancer is often detected and treated at an advanced stage using chemo- and/or radiotherapy with varying results and side effects that impact cancer survivors' quality of life, this strategic initiative is directly relevant to cancer prevention research and will have profound impact on public health.