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


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?


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?*

  • Better characterization of optimal type, dose, frequency, duration, timing of exercise & diet on chemotherapy uptake, adherence, side effects, treatment response & clinical outcomes as it relates to obesity and cancer.
  • Greater understanding of the relationships between obesity/body composition, cancer progression, and response to treatment.

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

  • Better characterization of post-treatment exercise and diet interventions on long-term treatment related toxicities and clinical outcomes, QoL, sleep, and general health outcomes.
  • Better precision weight maintenance/loss interventions for cancer survivors.

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


Tanya Agurs-Collins [DCCPS] 
Joanne Elena [DCCPS]

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, 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 of cancer, obesity and disparities within racially-ethnically diverse populations in the basic/translational, clinical and population sciences.
  • Enhance understanding of the underlying factors associated with rising obesity rates, especially among vulnerable populations.

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 delivery of interventions, type, dose, frequency, duration, timing of exercise & diet on health behavior outcomes & QoL.
  • Identify evidence-based interventions and 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?


Ed Sauter [DCP] 
Marissa Shams-White  [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)
Stimulating Innovations in Behavioral Intervention Research for Cancer Prevention and Control PAR-19-309 (R21 Clinical Trial Optional) September 08, 2022 Tanya Agurs-Collins
Smart Health and Biomedical Research in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Science NOT-OD-21-011 November 11, 2022 Dana Wolff-Hughes
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Dietary, Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Sleep Assessment Methodologies Among Infants and Young Children (Birth to 5 years) through Adults NOT-CA-21-108 May 08, 2023 Kirsten Herrick
Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Validation of Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Tools for Improved Assessment in Epidemiological, Clinical, and Intervention Research NOT-CA-22-037 March 09, 2024 Dana Wolff-Hughes
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 General questions, bariatric surgery questions, and clinical trials questions:
Edward Sauter


Inquiries related to basic cancer biology and mechanisms:
Kristine Willis


Philip Daschner


Basic Research in Cancer Health Disparities PAR-21-324 (R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) 
PAR-21-323 (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) 
PAR-21-322 (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
September 08, 2024 Anu Sharman


Tiffany Wallace


Asad Umar


Time-Sensitive Obesity Policy and Program Evaluation PAR-21-305 (R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) September 11, 2024 David Berrigan (for built environment grants)


Marissa Shams-White (for food environment/dietary change grants)


Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Developing and Testing Multilevel Physical Activity Interventions to Improve Health and Well-Being NOT-OD-21-087 February 16, 2024 Frank Perna
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


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



Last Updated
June 22, 2023