Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH

Professor of Nutrition

hursting@email.unc.edu
704-250-5059
Lab Website
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Dr. Hursting is Professor of Nutrition at the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis, NC. He is also Professor in the Department of Nutrition and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An international leader in the area of nutrition, obesity, metabolism and cancer, his lab focuses on the molecular and metabolic mechanisms underlying obesity-cancer associations, and the impact of obesity- energy balance modulation (eg, calorie restriction and exercise) or pharmacologic agents on cancer development, progression, and responses to chemotherapy. Primarily using genetically engineered mouse models of breast cancer (recently in parallel with several clinical trials), colon cancer and pancreatic cancer, Dr. Hursting has identified the IGF1/Akt/mTOR and NF-kB signaling pathways as key targets for breaking the obesity-cancer link. His publications establish causal links between obesity, cancer and several systemic factors (including IGF-1, insulin, leptin and IL-6) and components of their downstream signaling pathways (including mTOR and NF-kb). 

Prior to joining the UNC faculty in 2014, Dr. Hursting was Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, the McKean-Love Endowed Chair of Nutritional, Molecular and Cellular Sciences in the UT College of Natural Sciences, and Professor of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center (2005-14). Dr. Hursting earned a BA in biology from Earlham College and a PhD in nutritional biochemistry and an MPH in nutritional epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also completed postdoctoral training in molecular biology and cancer prevention as a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). 

 

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From 1999-2005, Dr. Hursting was Deputy Director of the NCI’s Office of Preventive Oncology, Division of Cancer Prevention. He was responsible for all aspects of the NCI’s Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program. Dr. Hursting was also an Investigator in the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, where he was Chief of the Nutrition and Molecular Carcinogenesis Section of the NCI’s Laboratory of Biosystems and Cancer. From 1995 to 1999, Dr. Hursting was an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Carcinogenesis at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he directed a multidisciplinary research program in nutrition and cancer prevention. He continues his affiliation with his former departments at the MD Anderson Cancer Center as a Professor of Carcinogenesis and Adjunct Associate Professor of Epidemiology. 

His research program focuses on the nutritional modulation of the carcinogenesis process, with a particular emphasis on the molecular, cellular and hormonal changes underlying important nutrition and cancer associations, with a focus on energy balance/obesity.

 

Hursting’s Team

Jody Albright

Jody Albright

Research Technician

jodyalb@email.unc.edu
704-250-5049

William Pressel III

William Pressel III

Research Technician

william_pressel@unc.edu
(704) 250-5059

Melissa VerHague, PhD

Melissa VerHague, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

melissa_verhague@unc.edu
(704) 250-5049

Publications

2020

Randomized Phase IIB Trial of the Lignan Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside in Pre-menopausal Women at Increased Risk for Development of Breast Cancer.

Effects of folic acid withdrawal on transcriptomic profiles in murine triple-negative breast cancer cell lines.

Cell Intrinsic and Systemic Metabolism in Tumor Immunity and Immunotherapy.

The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research Third Expert Report on Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer: Impact and Future Directions.

 

2019

A Unique Morphological Phenotype in Chemoresistant Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Reveals Metabolic Reprogramming and PLIN4 Expression as a Molecular Vulnerability.

Zoledronic Acid-containing Nanoparticles With Minimum Premature Release Show Enhanced Activity Against Extraskeletal Tumor.

The flaxseed lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside decreases local inflammation, suppresses NFκB signaling, and inhibits mammary tumor growth.

Body Fatness, Adipose Tissue Compartments, and Biomarkers of Inflammation and Angiogenesis in Colorectal Cancer: The ColoCare Study.

 

2018

Energy balance and gastrointestinal cancer: risk, interventions, outcomes and mechanisms.

Research Strategies for Nutritional and Physical Activity Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention.

Resveratrol inhibits obesity-associated adipose tissue dysfunction and tumor growth in a mouse model of postmenopausal claudin-low breast cancer.

Translating Mechanism-Based Strategies to Break the Obesity-Cancer Link: A Narrative Review.

 

2017

Obesity and Cancer Metabolism: A Perspective on Interacting Tumor-Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors.

Early Exposure to a High Fat/High Sugar Diet Increases the Mammary Stem Cell Compartment and Mammary Tumor Risk in Female Mice.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling is essential for mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy in cancer cells.

Metabolic reprogramming underlies metastatic potential in an obesity-responsive murine model of metastatic triple negative breast cancer.

When less may be more: calorie restriction and response to cancer therapy.

Energy Balance Modulation Impacts Epigenetic Reprogramming, ERα and ERβ Expression, and Mammary Tumor Development in MMTV-neu Transgenic Mice.

Impact of carbohydrate restriction in the context of obesity on prostate tumor growth in the Hi-Myc transgenic mouse model.

Energy balance and obesity: what are the main drivers?

Metabolic Reprogramming by Folate Restriction Leads to a Less Aggressive Cancer Phenotype.

 

2016

Starving cancer from the outside and inside: separate and combined effects of calorie restriction and autophagy inhibition on Ras-driven tumors.

Body Fatness and Cancer–Viewpoint of the IARC Working Group.

Reducing the burden of obesity-associated cancers with anti-inflammatory long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Stage-Specific MicroRNAs and Their Role in the Anticancer Effects of Calorie Restriction in a Rat Model of ER-Positive Luminal Breast Cancer.

Loss of p27 Associated with Risk for Endometrial Carcinoma Arising in the Setting of Obesity.

Obesity-Associated Alterations in Inflammation, Epigenetics, and Mammary Tumor Growth Persist in Formerly Obese Mice.

Synthesis, Characterization, and In Vitro and In Vivo Evaluations of 4-(N)-Docosahexaenoyl 2′, 2′-Difluorodeoxycytidine with Potent and Broad-Spectrum Antitumor Activity.