Thomas Kensler Awarded $6.3 Million to Study How Food Can Lower Cancer Risks

Issue Date: 
August 24, 2015

Thomas Kensler, a professor of pharmacology and chemical biology in Pitt’s School of Medicine, was awarded a $6.3 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute. 

The new award acknowledges experienced researchers and provides them with long-term support for exceptional work. The seven-year grant is one of just 60 given during the award’s inaugural year.

Thomas KenslerKensler is also a coleader for the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. His research focuses on chemoprevention, or how food can be used to lower the risk of developing cancer caused by unavoidable environmental toxins.

Studies have shown that controlling diet, increasing exercise, and quitting smoking can decrease the risk of developing cancer. However, environmental toxins such as fossil fuel combustion products are more difficult to mitigate. 

Past studies by Kensler’s team in China, where environmental controls are less rigorous, have examined the bioactive molecules in broccoli and how they may help people there detoxify air pollutants.

“Pollution is a global problem and its effects are seen most often among the elderly, disabled, children and minorities. We need effective and affordable interventions, and using food-based strategies could be the ideal way to address this,” Kensler said.