The three-year grant will fund research into obesity and colorectal cancer risk.
By Richard Westlund
Shria Kumar, M.D., a colorectal cancer researcher with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been awarded a Conquer Cancer Career Development Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). She will be honored at ASCO’s 2023 annual meeting, June 2-6, in Chicago.
“Dr. Kumar is a rising star among our many talented researchers at Sylvester and we are very happy that she has received this well-deserved recognition,” said Stephen Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester, the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and the Miller School’s executive dean for research. “We expect her research to answer important questions about obesity and colorectal cancer risk, and yield results that could benefit patients throughout South Florida and beyond.”
The ASCO award is a three-year grant that funds researchers during the first three years of their faculty appointments to establish independent clinical research programs. Dr. Kumar, who joined Sylvester in August 2021, plans to pursue her research interests in obesity and colorectal cancer with colleagues Tracy Crane, Ph.D., R.D.N., associate professor of medicine and Cancer Control Program co-leader, and David Goldberg, M.D., associate professor of clinical hepatology.
“I am incredibly honored and grateful to ASCO for this award,” said Dr. Kumar. “We look forward to conducting impactful research that may help not only our patients but those across the U.S. and worldwide.”
As a clinical epidemiologist, gastroenterologist and affiliate member of Sylvester’s Cancer Control Program, Dr. Kumar focuses her research on screening, early detection and early management of gastrointestinal cancers, along with identifying and managing risk factors and reducing cancer disparities.
“It is very clear that obesity is associated with colorectal cancer risk, but we do not know whether weight loss after obesity decreases or increases colorectal cancer risk,” said Dr. Kumar. “There is a similarly muddled relationship between obesity and mortality, such as the so-called obesity paradox, where people who are overweight or obese seem to have decreased cancer-related mortality.”
Through her grant-supported research, Dr. Kumar hopes to develop a risk estimator to guide clinicians when counseling patients on how weight changes may affect their cancer risks.
Dr. Kumar earned her medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she was inducted into its Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, and completed her internal medicine residency at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University in New York. She completed a gastroenterology fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and an advanced endoscopy fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
While pursuing the gastroenterology fellowship, she also completed a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania. She credits the latter with forming the foundation of her investigational career, which includes high-impact research in gastric, pancreatic, esophageal and neuroendocrine cancers.
Founded in 1964, ASCO represents more than 45,000 oncology professionals who care for people living with cancer. Through research, education and promotion of the highest-quality patient care, ASCO works to conquer cancer and create a world where cancer is prevented or cured, and every survivor is healthy. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation.