Erin L. Van Blarigan, ScD has been named assistant professor of urology complementing her earlier appointment with the department of epidemiology & biostatistics. Dr. Van Blarigan earned her ScD from Harvard School of Public Health in Epidemiology & Nutrition and began her postdoctoral training under June M. Chan, ScD here at UCSF. It became quickly apparent that Dr. Van Blarigan’s focus on lifestyle behaviors and prostate cancer was a natural fit for urology.
Specifically, Dr. Van Blarigan’s research is focused on the role of nutrition and physical activity in cancer survivorship. Thus far, her research has focused on discovery, and has identified several potential associations between lifestyle behaviors and prostate cancer survival in large prospective cohort studies.
While under Dr. Chan’s tutelage, she reported that engaging in brisk walking and consuming certain foods (e.g., cruciferous vegetables) and related nutrients (e.g., vegetable fats) after diagnosis may deter or delay prostate cancer progression, while other foods (e.g., eggs, poultry with skin) and related nutrients (e.g., choline) may increase risk of disease progression.
Dr. Van Blarigan is currently expanding her expertise to include randomized controlled trials of lifestyle interventions among cancer survivors. Data from randomized controlled trials is needed in order to determine whether a change in behavior after diagnosis improves quality-of-life and clinical outcomes, and can provide data to further elucidate biologic mechanisms.
Moving forward, she will assist in the management of a randomized controlled trial of supervised aerobic exercise among men on active surveillance for prostate cancer. This trial will examine whether men randomized to exercise have improved expression of three validated prognostic genomic signatures in their prostate and display less anxiety/stress compared to men randomized to usual care. Data from this phase II clinical trial will inform the development of a definitive phase III trial, which will in turn inform clinical practice and policy on diet and exercise for prostate cancer patients.
Says Peter R. Carroll, MD, MPH, urology department chair, “We are fortunate to have bright talent such as Erin join our urology team to help expand on the important lifestyle research being pioneered here at UCSF.”