Public Health Sciences Division, Fred Hutch
Dr. Thomas Kensler is a translational scientist who specializes in cancer prevention. He and his colleagues study the central stress defense/adaptive response signaling pathway in cells and how those pathways interact with other signaling networks to achieve “health maintenance” within the body and its organs. Among other projects, he and his colleagues work to develop strategies to protect against unavoidable exposures to environmental carcinogens in air, water and food. One such strategy involves the Keap1-Nrf2 signaling pathway in cells, which can be induced by certain small molecules that demonstrate a protective effect in preclinical cancer chemoprevention models.
Over the past few years, Dr. Kensler and collaborators have conducted a series of clinical trials in Qidong, China — a region where exposures to food- and airborne carcinogens are considerable — to evaluate the suitability of broccoli sprout beverages, which are rich in two small protective molecules that may block the harmful effects of environmental carcinogens. Their “green chemoprevention” preparations of broccoli sprouts have rapidly and persistently enhanced the detoxication of airborne toxins, which may in turn reduce their associated health risks, including cancer, in exposed individuals. Dr. Kensler and his team continue to optimize dose, formulation and biomarkers of pharmacodynamic action in these molecules. Another area of his translational research uses small molecules that target activation of the Keap1-Nrf2 pathway to develop new interventional strategies for patients with prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes or, potentially, Type 1 diabetes.
Ph.D., Toxicology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 1976