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Karen M. Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Behavioral Science, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Director, Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship, Division of OVP, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Adjunct Professor, Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Adjunct Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Rice University, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a Professor of Behavioral Science and the Director of the Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Basen-Engquist’s research focuses on cancer survivors and the role of health behavior interventions in decreasing the severity of late effects, improving physical functioning, optimizing quality of life and reducing risk of chronic diseases. In addition, she studies intervention methods for behavior change and innovative real-time methods for assessing symptoms and behavior in cancer patients and survivors.

Dr. Basen-Engquist recently completed an R01 study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate the mechanisms of exercise adoption and maintenance in endometrial cancer survivors, using a social cognitive theory model that tests the social, physiological and behavioral predictors of exercise adherence. Additionally, 2 NCI-funded pilot studies evaluated the benefits of exercise for advanced colon cancer patients and cancer survivors with chemotherapy induced heart failure. She currently directs a prevention program funded by the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to increase physical activity among medically underserved breast cancer survivors.

Through activities at the Center, Dr. Basen-Engquist endeavors to expand energy balance research by facilitating collaboration among investigators and expanding research in 4 broad areas – the effect of exercise, nutrition, and weight control on outcomes in cancer survivors and people at increased risk of cancer; biological mechanisms underlying relationships between energy balance and cancer; dissemination and implementation research related to energy balance interventions; and basic biobehavioral mechanisms underlying exercise, eating behavior and weight loss. 

Research Interests


Cancer Survivorship

Cancer Prevention

Quality of Life

Energy Balance

Weight Management

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1990 University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX, MPH, Health Promotion/Health Education
1989 The University of Texas, Austin, TX, PHD, Psychology
1982 Saint Olaf College, Northfield, MN, BA, Psychology


Administrative Appointments/Responsibilities

Co-Director, Patient Reported Outcomes, Survey, and Population Research (PROSPR) Shared Resource, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 9/2013-present

Honors and Awards

2014-present Fellow, Society of Behavioral Medicine
2010-2011 Leading Mentor in Cancer Prevention, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
2007 Nominee, Robert M. Chamberlain Distinguished Mentor Award, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
2006 Nominee, Robert M. Chamberlain Distinguished Mentor Award, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
2005-2006 M.D. Anderson Faculty Leadership Academy, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Versace F, Kypriotakis G, Basen-Engquist K, Schembre SM. Heterogeneity in brain reactivity to pleasant and food cues: evidence of sign-tracking in humans. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. e-Pub 11/25/2015. PMID: 26609106.
2. Basen-Engquist K, Carmack C, Brown J, Jhingran A, Baum G, Song J, Scruggs S, Swartz MC, Cox MG, Lu KH. Response to an exercise intervention after endometrial cancer: Differences between obese and non-obese survivors. Gynecol Oncol 133(1):48-55, 4/2014. PMCID: PMC3979927.
3. Santa Maria D, Swartz MC, Markham C, Chandra J, McCurdy S, Basen-Engquist K. Exploring parental factors related to weight management in survivors of childhood central nervous system tumors. J Pediatr Oncol Nurs 31(2):84-94, Mar-Apr, 3/2014. PMID: 24608701.
4. Crane TE, Khulpateea BR, Alberts DS, Basen-Engquist K, Thomson CA. Dietary intake and ovarian cancer risk: A systematic review. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 23(2):255-73, 2/2014. e-Pub 10/18/2013. PMCID: PMC4077283.
5. Zaid T, Burzawa J, Basen-Engquist K, Bodurka DC, Ramondetta LM, Brown J, Frumovitz M. Use of social media to conduct a cross-sectional epidemiologic and quality of life survey of patients with neuroendocrine carcinoma of the cervix: A feasibility study. Gynecol Oncol 132(1):149-53, 1/2014. e-Pub 10/19/2013. PMCID: PMC4265467.
6. Peterson SK, Shinn EH, Basen-Engquist K, Demark-Wahnefried W, Prokhorov AV, Baru C, Krueger IH, Farcas E, Rios P, Garden AS, Beadle BM, Lin K, Yan Y, Martch SL, Patrick K. Identifying early dehydration risk with home-based sensors during radiation treatment: A feasibility study with head and neck cancer patients. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 2013(47):162-168, 12/2013. PMCID: PMC3881993.
7. Basen-Engquist K, Carmack CL, Li Y, Brown J, Jhingran A, Hughes DC, Perkins HY, Scruggs S, Harrison C, Baum G, Bodurka DC, Waters A. Social Cognitive Theory predictors of exercise behavior in endometrial cancer survivors. Health Psychol 32(11):1137-1148, 11/2013. e-Pub 2/25/2013. PMID: 23437853.
8. Treviño RA, Vallejo L, Hughes DC, Gonzalez V, Tirado-Gomez M, Basen-Engquist K. Mexican-American and Puerto Rican breast cancer survivors' perspectives on exercise: similarities and differences. J Immigr Minor Health 14(6):1082-1090, 12/2012. e-Pub 5/2012. PMCID: PMC3469768.
9. Basen-Engquist K, Carmack CL, Perkins H, Hughes D, Serice S, Scruggs S, Pinto B, Waters A. Design of the steps to health study of physical activity in survivors of endometrial cancer: testing a social cognitive theory model. Psychol Sport Exerc 12(1):27-35, 1/1/2011. PMCID: PMC3014624.
10. Jovanovic JL, Hughes DC, Baum GP, Carmack C, Greisinger AJ, Basen-Engquist K. Accelerometry and self-report in sedentary populations. Am J Health Behav 35(1):71-80, Jan-Feb, 1/2011. PMCID: PMC3979893.
11. Hughes D, Baum G, Jovanovic J, Carmack C, Greisinger A, Basen-Engquist K. An acute exercise session increases self-efficacy in sedentary endometrial cancer survivors and controls. J Phys Act Health 128(5):1151-1168, 11/2010. PMCID: PMC3024053.
12. Shinn EH, Swartz RJ, Thornton BB, Spiess PE, Pisters LL, Basen-Engquist KM. Testis cancer survivors' health behaviors: comparison with age-matched relative demographically-matched population controls. J Clin Oncol 28(13):2274-2279, 5/1/2010. e-Pub 4/5/2010. PMCID: PMC2860440.
13. Perkins HY, Waters AJ, Baum GP, Basen-Engquist KM. Outcome expectations, expectancy accessibility, and exercise in endometrial cancer survivor. J Sport Exerc Psychol 31(6):776-785, 12/2009. PMID: 20384012.
14. Perkins HY, Baum GP, Taylor CL, Basen-Engquist KM. Effects of treatment factors, comorbidities and health-related quality of life on self-efficacy for physical activity in cancer survivors. Psychooncology 18(4):405-411, 4/2009. PMID: 19241489.
15. Basen-Engquist K, Scruggs S, Jhingran A, Bodurka DC, Lu K, Ramondetta L, Hughes D, Carmack Taylor C. Physical activity and obesity in endometrial cancer survivors: associations with pain, fatigue, and physical functioning. Am J Obstet Gynecol 200(3):288.e1-8, 3/2009. e-Pub 12/25/2008. PMCID: PMC2666540.
16. Basen-Engquist K, Hughes D, Perkins H, Shinn E, Taylor CC. Dimensions of physical activity and their relationship to physical and emotional symptoms in breast cancer survivors. J Cancer Surviv 2(4):253-261, 12/2008. e-Pub 10/16/2008. PMCID: PMC3076788.

Invited Articles

1. Basen-Engquist K, Chang M. Obesity and cancer risk: recent review and evidence. Curr Oncol Rep 13(1):71-6, 2/2011. e-Pub 11/16/2010. PMCID: PMC3786180.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Pilot test of a lifestyle intervention arm in an endometrial cancer prevention trial: Effects on endometrial proliferation and related biomarkers
Funding Source: Duncan Family Institute
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 8/1/2011 - 12/31/2015
Title: Yoga for women with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Cohen, L
Duration: 4/1/2010 - 3/31/2016
Title: CYCORE: CYberinfrastructure for Comparative Effectiveness Research
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator - Multiple PI
Principal Investigator: Peterson - Corresponding
Duration: 9/30/2009 - 8/31/2013
Title: Oncologist-Assisted Home Exercise Program For Advanced Colon Cancer Patients
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 8/14/2009 - 7/31/2013
Title: Take Heart: Exercise & Diet Intervention for Heart Failure in Cancer Survivors
Funding Source: NIH
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 4/1/2009 - 2/28/2013
Title: UPR/MDACC Partnership of Excellence in Cancer Research - Pilot Project C: Exercise in Hispanic Breast Cancer Survivors
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Project Leader
Principal Investigator: Lopez-Berestein
Duration: 2/1/2009 - 8/31/2015
Title: Social Cognitive Theory and PA after Endometrial Cancer
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 9/1/2004 - 8/31/2011

Last updated: 11/20/2015