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Obesity and cancer

Speaker: Nils Halberg
Moderator: Simon E. Nitter Dankel

Dr. Halberg completed his graduate studies at the University of Copenhagen in 2009. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Philipp Scherer at the UT Southwestern Medical Center he studied the functional role of hypoxia and fibrosis in obese white adipose tissue. He did postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Sohail Tavazoie at the Rockefeller University studying the mechanisms of metastatic secretory programs in breast cancer. In 2015, he moved to the University of Bergen to start his academic laboratory in the Department of Biomedicine. His laboratory seeks to better our understanding of the mechanistic connection between obesity and cancer.

Obesity and overweight is consistently linked to tumor initiation and progression across 13 tumors types. This currently rank obesity as the second leading preventable cause of cancer right behind smoking. Although the epidemiological evidence is overwhelming the cellular mechanisms behind the link between obesity and cancer has been elusive. We propose a model wherein cancer cell adaptation to an obese environment leads to a cell differentiation towards a cancer stem cell phenotype through chromatin remodeling.