Trans-NCI Obesity & Cancer Work Group

The Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Work Group was established in 2019. The purpose of the work group is to promote the exchange of information and cross-cutting interests in obesity and cancer research within NCI. Our activities include the development of meetings, workshops and webinars for staff and public knowledge, and the development of scientific manuscripts. The work group also conducts portfolio reviews and identifies and promotes new opportunities in obesity and cancer research. Six subgroups have been formed: Prevention, Etiology, and Mechanisms, Treatment and Survivorship, Measurement and Methods, Health Disparities, Time-Restricted Eating, and Pediatrics and Physical Activity


  • Identify and summarize the state-of-the-science to document what is known and what is needed to move the science forward
  • Identify and prioritize critical research questions/needs/gaps in each topic area
  • Develop research concept themes and other activities to stimulate research
  • Plan and develop a webinar series with topics related to the different subgroups

Featured Obesity and Cancer Initiatives


The Prevention, Etiology, and Mechanisms subgroup is exploring the following challenges in obesity and cancer:

  • What are the risk factors, biological mechanisms and pathways associated with obesity/overweight and cancer as it relates to excess body weight and/or adiposity driving the development of pre- and invasive cancers across the lifespan in all racial/ethnic and understudied populations across geographic locations?
  • Does overweight/obesity in children and youth increase the risks for cancer development later in life?
  • How do risk factors, such as sleep, stress, social determinants of health, the microbiome, metabolic and immune dysfunction, environmental obesogens, influence and/or interact with mechanisms through which obesity might increase risk of cancer?
  • What effective strategies could prevent or intercept mechanistic biological changes such as inflammation, immune function, and metabolic dysregulation of obesity associated cancers?
  • Does the timing, duration, and amount of weight loss in the life cycle influence cancer risk (i.e. in childhood/youth versus adult)?
  • Which interventions decrease obesity and associated unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, applied across the lifespan, to reduce and/or delay cancer incidence?

The aims of this subgroup are related to the Metabolic Dysregulation and Cancer Risk Program, a transdisciplinary NCI initiative to enhance knowledge of the dynamics and underlying mechanisms that link obesity, metabolic dysregulation, and increased cancer risk.


Sharon Ross [DCP]
Ed Sauter [DCP]

The Treatment and Survivorship subgroup is exploring the following challenges in obesity and cancer:

What are the effects of diet, exercise and body composition on cancer treatment efficacy & outcomes?*

  • Need better characterization of optimal type, dose, frequency, duration, timing of exercise and diet as well as nutritional status on chemotherapy uptake, adherence, side effects, treatment response & clinical outcomes as it relates to obesity and cancer.
  • Explore the relationships between obesity/body composition, cancer progression, and response to treatment.
  • Study how diet, exercise, body composition, and nutritional status impact cancer-related symptoms and quality of life.

What are the effects of obesity/body composition, exercise & dietary regimens on post-treatment outcomes?*

  • Need better characterization of post-treatment exercise and diet interventions on long-term treatment related toxicities and clinical outcomes, QoL, sleep, and general health outcomes.
  • Explore how nutritional status and changes in nutritional status affect post-treatment outcomes.
  • Need to understand how weight maintenance/loss interventions during treatment affect outcomes and survival.
  • Need better precision weight maintenance/loss interventions for post-treatment cancer survivors.

*These questions need to be addressed across cancer sites/subtypes, stage of diseases, and in diverse groups of survivors with respect to age, body size, activity level, and race/ethnicity.


Tanya Agurs-Collins [DCCPS] 
Elaine Trujillo [DCP]

The Measurement and Methods subgroup is exploring the following challenges related to obesity and cancer:

  • How can complementary assessment methods (e.g., self-report, sensor-based technologies, and/or biomarkers) be triangulated to improve insights into diet, physical activity, and sleep behaviors and environmental determinants?
  • What assessment and analytic methods are needed to better integrate measures of diet, physical activity, and sleep within the 24-hour day?
  • How can assessment tools for modifiable risk factors be developed or adapted and validated for cancer survivors?
  • How can methods be enhanced to measure the food and physical activity environment in diverse populations using appropriate reference instruments?


Jill Reedy [DCCPS] 
Dana Wolff-Hughes [DCCPS] 

The Health Disparities subgroup is exploring the following challenges in obesity and cancer:

Why do cancer and the health consequences of obesity disproportionately affect Hispanics, non-Hispanic Blacks, and Native Americans more than other race and ethnic groups?

  • Geography, economy, genetic and epigenetic predisposition, occupational and environmental health exposures, health care access, internet access, culturally-sensitive communication, differences in lifestyle, and citizenship status all contribute to the impact of the ability of diverse patient populations to seek and receive cancer information and care related to cancer prevention, screening and treatment - including risks/benefits associated with various treatment modalities - in equitable fashion.
  • Need for greater understanding of the intersection and interplay among upstream and downstream Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) on cancer, persistent poverty areas, and generational wealth gap including food deserts on obesity and disparities within racially-ethnically diverse populations in the basic/translational, clinical and population sciences.
  • Enhance understanding of the underlying protective and risk factors associated with rising obesity rates, especially among vulnerable and marginalized populations in cancer care continuum settings for early onset and aggressive recalcitrant cancers.

How can we tailor interventions influencing weight loss, exercise & dietary regimens to have better outcomes in diverse populations to reduce cancer risk?

  • Better characterization of optimal prevention strategies and delivery of interventions, type, dose, frequency, duration, timing of exercise & diet on health behavior outcomes & QoL.
  • Identify evidence-based interventions and preventative strategies to improve weight, physical exercise, and diet, including effective ways to ensure affordability and address barriers, such as those relating to SES and environmental constraints (e.g. time constraints) that pose obstacles to implementing such strategies.


Tanya Agurs-Collins [DCCPS]
Anil Wali [CRCHD] 

The Time-Restricted Eating subgroup is exploring the following challenges in obesity and cancer:

  • What are the effects of time-restricted eating (TRE) compared to other diet strategies, including, but not limited to, caloric restriction or other intermittent fasting approaches, on weight loss, weight maintenance, and long-term dietary adherence?
  • What role does TRE play in reducing cancer incidence and progression, cancer treatment response, and cancer recurrence?
  • What are the emerging obesity risk factors, including the hormonal milieu, microbiome, and epigenetic modifications that impact TRE’s efficacy?

The TRE subgroup is following NIH/NCI supported projects and their impact on cancer endpoints, including:

  • A project that evaluates the impact of TRE on cancer cell growth in women with breast cancer between diagnosis and definitive surgery
  • Two projects, one in lean and the second in overweight/obese individuals, on cancer risk endpoints
  • Four TRE projects evaluating the impact of TRE on risk of breast and colorectal cancer


Ed Sauter [DCP] 
Tanya Agurs-Collins [DCCPS]

The Pediatrics and Physical Activity subgroup is exploring the following challenges in obesity and cancer:

  • What is needed to accelerate the application of pediatric exercise and physical activity intervention knowledge from bench to bedside to communities and policy?
  • What are research opportunities for exercise, physical activity and physical education for pediatric cancer patients and survivors?
  • What role do pediatric exercise and physical activity interventions play in improving cancer treatment outcomes?


Heather Bowles [DCP] 
Frank Perna [DCCPS] 

Funding Opportunities

Title Announcement # Expiration Date Contact(s)
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplements for Contemporary Modifiable Exposures and Cancer Across the Life Course and Cancer Control Continuum NOT-CA-24-030 April 23, 2024 Somdat Mahabir
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Promoting Research on Interoception and Its Impact on Health and Disease NOT-AT-21-002 May 07, 2024 Todd Horowitz
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Improving Adherence to Treatment and Prevention Regimens to Promote Health NOT-OD-21-100 June 08, 2024 Wendy Nelson

Janet S. de Moor
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Mechanisms Driving Obesity and Prostate Cancer Risk NOT-CA-23-089 September 08, 2024 Howard Parnes

Edward Sauter
Mechanisms that Impact Cancer Risk after Bariatric Surgery PAR-21-331 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

PAR-21-332 (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
September 08, 2024 For general questions, bariatric surgery questions, and clinical trials questions, contact:

Edward Sauter

For inquiries related to basic cancer biology and mechanisms, contact:

Kristine Willis


Philip Daschner
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Development and Preliminary Testing of Health-related Behavioral Interventions NOT-OD-22-203 September 27, 2024 Susan Czajkowski
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Stimulating Research to Understand and Address Hunger, Food and Nutrition Insecurity NOT-OD-22-135 November 29, 2024 Tanya Agurs-Collins
Administrative Supplements to Support Cancer Disparity Collaborative Research PAR-22-114 (Clinical Trial Optional) January 24, 2025 Cancer Disparities Research:
Maria Jamela Revilleza

Population Sciences:
Amy Kennedy

Translational and Clinical Studies:
Minkyung (Min) H. Song

Cancer Prevention:
Vikrant Sahasrabuddhe

Basic Cancer Biology Research:
Natalia Mercer

Global Health:
James Alaro
Epidemiologic Research on Emerging Risk Factors and Liver Cancer Susceptibility PAR-22-083 (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PAR-22-084 (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
May 08, 2025 Tram Kim Lam

For inquiries related to metabolic or pharmacological factors:

Gabriel Lai

For inquiries related to biospecimens:

Danielle Carrick
Risk and Protective Factors of Family Health and Family Level Interventions PAR-21-358 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) May 08, 2025 Rebecca Ferrer
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Preventive Interventions to Address Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Populations that Experience Health Disparities NOT-OD-22-154 September 08, 2025 Susan Czajkowski
Mechanistic Links Between Diet, Lipid Metabolism, and Tumor Growth and Progression PAR-23-051 (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PAR-23-052 (UH2 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
October 24, 2025 For applications that emphasize tumor cell autonomous mechanisms:

Kristine Willis

For applications that emphasize tumor cell non-autonomous mechanisms:

Natalia Mercer
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Epidemiologic Studies to Assess the Impact of Incretin Mimetics on New and Recurrent Cancer Risk NOT-CA-24-037 May 09, 2026 For inquiries related to general information about the NOSI and incretin mimetics:

Edward Sauter

For inquiries related to epidemiologic study designs:

Naoko Ishibe

For inquiries related to impact on cancer patients:

Kelly Filipski
Unveiling Health and Healthcare Disparities in Non-Communicable and Chronic Diseases in Latin America: Setting the Stage for Better Health Outcomes Across the Hemisphere PAR-23-303 (R01 Clinical Trials Not Allowed) January 07, 2027 James R. Alaro
Mechanisms that Impact Cancer Risk with Use of Incretin Mimetics PAR-23-279 (Clinical Trial Optional)

PAR-23-281 (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
January 08, 2027 For general questions, medication questions and clinical trials questions:

Edward Sauter

For inquiries related to basic cancer biology and mechanisms:

Philip Daschner
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Developing and Testing Multi-level Physical Activity Interventions to Improve Health and Well-Being NOT-OD-24-058 November 14, 2027 Frank Perna

Heather Bowles
Title Announcement # Expiration Date Contact(s)
Exercise and Nutrition Interventions to Improve Cancer Treatment-Related Outcomes (ENICTO) in Cancer Survivors Consortium RFA-CA-21-031 (U01 Clinical Trial Required)
RFA-CA-21-032 (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
July 15, 2021 Frank Perna
Improving Outcomes in Cancer Treatment-Related Cardiotoxicity PA-19-112 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
PA-19-111 (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
January 8, 2022 Nonniekaye Shelburne
Metabolic Dysregulation and Cancer Risk Program, Research Grants: a Transdisciplinary Approach to Obesity-Associated Research RFA-CA-21-021 (U01 Clinical Trial Optional)
RFA-CA-21-022 (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
October 07, 2022 For general inquiries about the NOFO and questions related to epidemiology:
Tram Kim Lam


For inquiries related to cancer biology:
Philip Daschner


For inquiries related to cancer prevention:
Edward Sauter


For inquiries related to cancer disparities:
Mary Ann Van Duyn

Obesity & Cancer Webinar Series

Obesity & Cancer Webinar Series Banner

The Obesity and Cancer Webinar Series includes a wide range of obesity and cancer topics. Past webinars have focused on the following topics as related to cancer and obesity: time restricted eating, sleep and circadian rhythm, COVID-19, health disparities, inflammation and insulin resistance, microbiome, and physical activity interventions.

Recordings of these webinars, and information on planned webinars, is available at the following link:

Additional Information


Susan Czajkowski, PhD

Susan Czajkowski, PhD

CHIEF, Health Behaviors Research Branch

Last Updated
April 04, 2024