Getting to Know Ivan H.C. Wu, MA, Ph.D.
“My career so far has been non-linear; I’ve always looked for something interesting and pursued it,” claims Ivan Wu, currently a Cancer Prevention Research Training Program Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in M.D. Anderson’s Department of Health Disparities Research. Armed with a B.A. in Psychology from University of San Francisco, California, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, Dr. Wu was initially interested in a career in physics, but moved toward social sciences in college. “I found psychology melded my interest in research and human behavior, and I really enjoyed being able to help people while conducting science,” he adds.
Dr. Wu originally became interested in health disparities research studying how Chinese immigrants manage diabetes and understand the health care system at USFCA. This led to studying mental health among immigrants in the U.S., and working with racial/ethnic minority veterans at the New Mexico VA Health Care System in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “I’ve had the honor to help many people in one-on-one settings,” he explains. “But I wanted to get more exposure to intervening at the community level, and followed the path to join the Health Disparities Research Department here at M.D. Anderson.”
Among many studies, Dr. Wu is currently focused on a pilot study to understand the sleep practices and implement a sleep intervention for sedentary and obese African American adults in Houston. “Sleep is often an afterthought in our health practices until you feel the pain of sleep deprivation. Worse yet, insufficient sleep increases the risk of health problems, and sleep deprivation has become a norm for many. I am studying how the lack of sleep can help prevent cancer by preventing obesity and increasing physical activity. We have adapted a four-week sleep intervention for sedentary African Americans who don’t get enough sleep to help them overcome sleep barriers, improve sleep hygiene and ultimately change their relationship with sleep. We will meet with them once a week to assess their progress and teach healthy sleep habits.”
“We know that a third of American adults are sleep deprived – getting less than the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep – and our research shows that a staggering 60% of the local African American churchgoing population is sleep deprived. These sleep disparities can have a major health impact, such as increased risk for mortality, diabetes, obesity and cancer. We hope to better understand the struggles they face to improve the quality and duration of their sleep in a culturally-sensitive, meaningful way. By understanding sleep in one community, we can then adapt and model the same efforts for other communities using community-centered approaches, and shape thinking to impact cancer prevention.”
Dr. Wu has spent 12 months at M.D. Anderson, and enjoys interacting with physicians in different disciplines around the institution. “I am truly grateful to be doing the kind of work I do in health disparities research. Learning how our work dovetails with energy balance and the importance of sleep and healthy weight in human behavior and cancer prevention is understudied and has the potential to make a great impact among minority communities. And M.D. Anderson is an amazing place to do it.”
The Third Expert Report
In May 2018, the World Cancer Research Fund International and American Institute for Cancer Research launched their The Third Expert Report - Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective. This report summarizes past decades of cancer prevention research, providing reliable cancer advice and updated Cancer Prevention Recommendations. It highlights new findings, including five additional cancers linked to obesity and strengthened evidence that specific food or nutrients are not single factors causing or protecting against cancer. Instead, a combination of diet and physical activity throughout life combine to make you more or less vulnerable to cancer.
A few of the chapters are:
- Cancer Process
- Judging the Evidence
- Energy Balance and Body Fatness
- Survivors of Breast and Other Cancers
- Recommendations and Public Health and Policy Implications
Going Gym Free with Hosts Marc & Beth and Guest Karen Basen-Engquist: Blog Talk Radio
Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor of Behavioral Science and director of the Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship was a featured guest on the "Let's Talk! Going Gym Free Show" with Marc and Beth. Listen now
The National Cancer Institute is providing data for researchers to develop novel analytic approaches for quantifying physical activity and dietary exposures
This data is available to all qualified investigators for studies of physical activity and nutrition. Interested investigators can request access to IDATA Study via the Cancer Data Access System.
Thank you to Erik Anderson, Co-Chairman & CEO of Topgolf® and to the entire Topgolf team for promoting a healthy lifestyle by supporting programs and research in the Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship. Topgolf’s fundraising efforts in July of 2017 raised $50,000 for the Center.
Learn more about the Topgolf partnership.