Department of Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Dr. Norian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. She performed her doctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Koretzky at The University of Iowa, where she studied transcriptional regulation of the pro-apoptotic molecule Fas Ligand on CD8+ T cells. She then moved to the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she studied tumor-induced T cell and dendritic cell dysfunction as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Allen. Upon completion of her training, Dr. Norian was recruited back to Iowa, where she was promoted to Assistant Professor and began to study the effects of obesity on immune responses to renal tumors.
Immune-based therapies have shown tremendous clinical potential for treating advanced cancers, but their broad clinical efficacy remains limited. As obesity is a known risk factor for increased cancer prevalence and mortality, it is critical to understand how obesity impacts anti-tumor immunity and immunotherapeutic efficacy. A major research focus in the Norian lab is understanding how immune responses to solid tumors change in the presence of chronic, diet-induced obesity. We have found that in mice with renal tumors, obesity impairs protective anti-tumor immunity and leads to immunotherapeutic failure. To better understand the translatability of our findings, we are evaluating the ways in which obesity alters immune responses in treatment-naive renal cancer patients.