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Johnson Cancer Research Center

Dr. Nora Springer

Department: Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology
nlspring@k-state.edu
Departmental Website

The Springer laboratory works on understanding how structural and biochemical alterations to non-neoplastic cells and tissues can support cancer development, growth, and metastasis, collectively referred to as the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Springer’s main research focus is elucidating the role of childhood obesity in adulthood cancer development. Obesity results in numerous structural changes to fat tissue that mimic the tumor microenvironment. Such changes appear to prime fat tissue for future cancer development, and weight loss alone might not be sufficient to reverse these changes. Strategies to reduce childhood obesity have focused mainly on education and lifestyle interventions such as improved quality of food and increased activity level. However, a significant proportion of obese children reside in food-insecure households and the recidivism rate to overweight or obesity after weight reduction is 80-85%. Therefore, an improved understanding of the long-lasting effects of obesity on adipose tissue function is necessary for developing effective interventions and preventing future cancer development.