Identification of Specific Dietary Fats that Fuel Cancer

2023 Emerging Leader Award

Lydia Lynch, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Lydia Lynch, PhD

Obesity is a risk factor for 13 types of cancer. Obesity and a high fat diet can fuel tumor cell growth and at the same time, prevent the immune system from killing cancer cells. However, not all obesity or high fat diets have the same effect on the immune system and cancer. Dr. Lynch’s lab has shown that diets rich in animal fat are particularly harmful in promoting cancer while plant fats are not, even if they cause the same level of obesity. Now, she will test the hypothesis that the metabolic by-products of animal fat impair CD8 T cell metabolism and function and allow tumors to grow.

Dr. Lynch received her B.Sc. degree in Cell Biology and Genetics, and PhD in Immunology from University College Dublin. She then completed her postdoctoral studies in immunometabolism in the labs of Prof. Michael Brenner and Prof. Ulrich von Andrian at Harvard University. In 2015, Dr. Lynch started her independent lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Her lab is interested in the effects of obesity and diet on immune cell functions, particularly innate metabolite sensing lymphocytes.

published research

McIntyre CL, Temesgen A, Lynch L. Diet, nutrient supply, and tumor immune responses. Trends Cancer. 2023.