It’s often said that cancer doesn’t discriminate, but researchers are investigating how certain disparities may influence risk of specific types of cancer.
A veterinary anatomic pathologist, Arlin B. Rogers, DVM, PhD, is the principal investigator of a research laboratory investigating molecular carcinogenesis of the liver with an emphasis on the influence of sex and hormones on disease risk and prevention.
Dr. Rogers explains, “Males develop the primary liver cancer hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) more than twice as often as females. Using molecular approaches and rodent models, we are exploring the mechanistic basis for this in order to develop new therapies for prevention and treatment in men and women.”
HCC is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and the fastest rising cancer in the United States. For reasons that remain poorly understood, men develop significantly more HCC than women despite nearly equal exposure to the two major risk factors: chronic viral hepatitis and aflatoxin B1. This gender disparity is recapitulated in rodent models. Dr. Rogers has shown in mice that male sex hormones do not directly promote liver cancer. Rather, masculinization of the liver through an endocrine cascade involving growth hormone invokes changes in the hepatocyte that produces an inherent state of vulnerability to tumor-promoting inflammation.
Dr. Rogers is an Associate Professor and the Head of Pathology at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. As Head of Pathology, Dr. Rogers is tasked with section administration, autopsy and biopsy service, resident training, and veterinary student teaching. He frequently collaborates with investigators using animal models of cancer and chronic inflammatory disease and serves as a pathology consultant to numerous academic and corporate clients.
His work exploring the role of gender and microbes in tumor promotion is groundbreaking and lays the groundwork for targeted cancer treatments and prevention approaches. Dr. Rogers is exploring the potential epigenetic basis for male predisposition to HCC, with significant implications for predicting and preventing disease in humans. In addition, his researchers are investigating metabolic liver cancer promotion in a novel wild-type F1 mouse model that develops spontaneous insulin resistance with parent-specific inheritance. Dr. Rogers, explains, “Together our studies will introduce a molecular basis to define host-environment interactions in hepatocarcinogenesis, and introduce new biomarkers and molecular targets for the prevention and treatment of HCC.”
Dr. Rogers studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a BS in veterinary science, D.V.M. in veterinary medicine, and a MS in veterinary pathobiology. After working as a small animal and exotics veterinarian for several years, Dr. Rogers returned to school and earned a PhD in experimental pathology from Colorado State University. He went on to hold a dual appointment as Chief of Comparative Pathology and Principal Research Scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After seven years at MIT, Dr. Rogers joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as an Assistant Professor, principal investigator and pathology consultant. He joined Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 2013.
Dr. Rogers research has garnered him several prestigious accolades throughout the years, a few of which include the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Pilot Award (2005), a NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) at UNC-Chapel Hill 10K Grant (2008), the Theodore T. Puck Award for Outstanding Abstract at the Aspen Cancer Conference (2009), and the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Development Award (2010).