December 22, 2011

Grant supports Hales’ ovarian cancer research

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A scientist at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Carbondale is the recipient of a five-year federal grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to study dietary interventions to suppress ovarian cancer. The total budget for the grant is $1.8 million.

Dale B. Hales, professor of physiology and gynecology/obstetrics, chair of the physiology department and a member of Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, is the principal investigator for the project.

"Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths from gynecological malignancies due to the late stage at which it is usually detected. This research will test the effectiveness of a flaxseed-enriched diet in the suppression of ovarian cancer, using the laying hen as a model of ovarian carcinoma," Hales said.

Flaxseed is the richest vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids. The research also will determine which component of flaxseed provides the therapeutic effect. The long-term goal of the research, which uses a dietary intervention by natural products, is to reduce the prevalence and severity of ovarian cancer.

Hales' research has been funded for more than 25 years by the NIH, Department of Defense, American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society. His research has focused on the role of inflammation and oxidative stress in the etiology of hormonal carcinogenesis and the prevention and treatment of ovarian cancer with functional food-based diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Hales joined the faculty in 2009. He completed his doctoral degree in biochemistry, biophysics and genetics at the University of Colorado (UC) Health Sciences Center in Denver (1983). Hales earned his bachelor's at the UC in Boulder (1977).