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Past Postdoctoral Member: Maria Azrad, PhD

Maria Azrad, PhD Past Postdoctoral Trainee
Department of Nutrition Sciences


Maria Azrad, PhD, RD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. Dr. Azrad’s research interests include the associations between obesity and cancer risk and survivorship as well as polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) metabolism and cancer risk and progression. She has obtained funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to longitudinally explore changes in body weight and serum biomarkers associated with cancer recurrence in African-American and age- and BMI-matched White breast cancer survivors enrolled in two year weight loss trial. The goal of this study is to assess potential racial differences in weight change and maintenance as well as metabolic changes associated with body weight. Also, Dr. Azrad and her mentor, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, RD, received funding from the Alabama Department of Health to explore the expression of genes involved in the PUFA metabolic pathway in prostate tumor tissue and matched-normal tissue in relation to markers for aggressive prostate cancer. The goal of this study is to determine whether the expression of genes in the PUFA pathway is altered in prostate cancer and whether this impairs PUFA metabolism in the target tissue and drives tumor progression.


  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • pre 2011
  1. Azrad M, Demark-Wahnefried W. The association between adiposity and breast cancer recurrence and survival: A review of the recent literature. Curr Nutr Rep. 2014 3:9-15.
  2. Sedjo Rebecca, Ganz P, Colditz G, Demark-Wahnefried W, Rock C, Azrad M, Byers T. Predictors of Weight Gain Prior to Entry Into a Weight-Loss Study among Breast Cancer Survivors. J Cancer Surviv – IN PRESS.
  3. Azrad M, Vollmer RT, Madden J, Polascik TJ, Snyder DC, Ruffin MT Moul JW, Brenner DE Demark-Wahnefried W. Discordant results between proliferation rates of surgically-excised prostate tumors and an in vitro bioassay using sera from a positive randomized controlled trial. Submitted to: Biotechnic & Histochemistry - Under Review.
  4. Azrad M, Blair CK, Rock C, Sedjo RL, Wolin KY, Demark-Wahnefried W. Rapid adult weight gain is associated with earlier onset breast cancer: An opportunity for screening and lifestyle modification. Submitted to: CEBP – Under Review.
  5. Zhang DY, Azrad M, Demark-Wahnefried W, Frederickson CJ, Lippard SJ, Radford RJ. A Peptide-based, Two-fluorophore, Ratiometric Probe for Quantifying Mobile Zinc in Biological Material. In preparation.
  1. Azrad M, Vollmer RT, Madden J, Dewhirst M, Polascik TJ, Snyder DC, Ruffin MT Moul JW Brenner DE Demark-Wahnefried W. Flaxseed-derived enterolactone is inversely associated with tumor cell proliferation in men with localized prostate cancer. J Med Food. 2013 16:357-60.
  2. Rock CL, Byers TE, Colditz GA, Demark-Wahnefried W, Ganz PA, Wolin KY, Elias A, Krontiras H, Liu J, Naughton M, Pakiz B, Parker BA, Sedjo RL, Wyatt H. Reducing breast cancer recurrence with weight loss, a vanguard trial: the Exercise and Nutrition to Enhance Recovery and Good Health for You (ENERGY) Trial.; Exercise and Nutrition to Enhance Recovery and Good Health for You (ENERGY) Trial Group. Contemp Clin Trials. 2013 34:282-95.
  3. Azrad M, Turgeon CE, Demark-Wahnefried W. Current evidence linking polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) with cancer risk and progression. Frontiers in Oncology 2013 3:224.
  1. Azrad M, Gower BA, Hunter GR, Nagy TR. Intra-abdominal adipose tissue is independently associated with sex-hormone binding globulin in premenopausal women. Obesity 2012; 20:1012-5.
  2. Azrad M, Demark-Wahnefried W. Dietary omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and prostate cancer - letter. Cancer Prev Res 2012 5:798-9.
  3. Azrad M, Gower BA, Hunter GR, Nagy TR. Racial differences in adiponectin and leptin in premenopausal women. Endocrine 2012 DOI: 10.1007/s12020-012-9797-6.
  4. Hursting SD, DiGiovanni J, Dannenberg AJ, Azrad M, LeRoith D, Demark-Wahnefried W, Madhuri K, Brodie A, Berger NA. Obesity, energy balance and cancer: New opportunities for prevention. Cancer Prevention Research 2012 DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0140.
  5. Azrad M, Zhang K, Vollmer RT, Madden J, Polascik TJ, Snyder DC, Ruffin MT, Moul JT, Brenner D, He X, Hardy R, Demark-Wahnefried W. Prostatic alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is positively associated with aggressive prostate cancer: A relationship which may be modified by genetic variation in ALA metabolism. PLoS One 2012;7(12):e53104. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053104.
  1. Azrad M, Gower BA, Hunter GR, Nagy TR. Reduced Mitogenicity of Sera Following Weight Loss in Premenopausal Women. Nutr Cancer. 2011;63:916-23.
  1. Piyathilake CJ, Azrad M, Jhala D, Macaluso M, Kabagambe EK, Brill I, Niveleau A, Jhala N and Grizzle W. Mandatory fortification with folic acid in the United States is not associated with changes in the degree or the pattern of global DNA methylation in cells involved in cervical carcinogenesis. Cancer Biomark. 2006 2:259-66.
  2. Piyathilake CJ, Azrad M, Macaluso M, Henao OL, Johanning GL, Cornwell PE, Partridge EE and Heimburger DC. The protective association of MTHFR polymorphism on cervical intraepithelial neoplasia is modified by riboflavin status. Nutrition. 2007 23:229-35.
  3. Piyathilake CJ, Celedonio-Colquococha JE, Bell WC, Azrad M, Grizzle WE. Mandatory fortification with folic acid in the United States is associated with increased expression of DNA Methyltransferase 1 in the cervix. Nutrition. 2008 24:94-9.
  4. Azrad M, Nagy TR. Energy balance, obesity and mechanisms for increased cancer risk. Cell Science Reviews Vol 6. No 2, 2009


Years: 2014 - 2015
Mentor(s): Wend Demark-Wahnefried, PhD

Maria Azrad, PhD moved on from UAB effective 3/25/2015
Current Location: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa