Trans-NCI Obesity & Cancer Working Group

The Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Working Group was established in 2019. The purpose of the working 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 working group also conducts portfolio reviews, and identifies and promotes new opportunities in obesity and cancer research. Five subgroups have been formed: Prevention, Etiology, and Mechanisms, Treatment and Survivorship , Measurement and Methods, Health Disparities, and Time-Restricted Eating.


  • 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


Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Working Group

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 Co-Chair [DCP]
Ed Sauter Co-Chair [DCP]

Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Working Group

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 Co-Chair [DCCPS] 
Joanne Elena Co-Chair [DCCPS]

Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Working Group

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 the 24-hour patterns of diet, physical activity, and sleep?
  • How can dietary assessment tools be developed or adapted to capture the context of eating (when, where, why, with whom) 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 Co-Chair [DCCPS] 
Rick Troiano Co-Chair [DCCPS] 

Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Working Group

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.


Mary Ann Van Duyn Co-Chair [CRCHD] 
Barbara Dunn Co-Chair [DCP] 

Trans-NCI Obesity and Cancer Working Group

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, intermittent and/or daily fasting, 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 Co-Chair [DCP] 
Pat Boyd Co-Chair [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

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

Obesity & Cancer Webinar Series

Obesity & Cancer Webinar Series Banner

The Obesity and Cancer Webinar Series includes a wide range of obesity and cancer topics in basic to behavioral, and lab, clinical to community-focused research format.


Obesity and Cancer Fact Sheet, NCI

NIH Obesity Research Task Force

Nutrition Research Task Force

Dietary Assessment Resources

Physical Activity Assessment Resources

National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research. Advancing Measurement for Childhood Obesity Workshop Series Exit Disclaimer



Last Updated
December 29, 2021