Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH

Institute Director and Professor of Nutrition

Dr. Hursting is the Director and a 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

In the News

Hursting receives AICR’s Distinguished Service Award

Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH, Director of the Nutrition Research Institute and Professor of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina, was awarded the American Institute for Cancer Research’s (AICR) Distinguished Service Award on November 2 at the 2022 AICR...

Breaking the Obesity-Cancer Link

It was in graduate school at UNC-Chapel Hill that Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) Director Stephen Hursting first got interested in cancer research. After completing his MPH and working for two years as a research associate at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer...

Publications