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Sara Souto Strom, PhD

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Research Interests


Dr. Strom is an epidemiologist with special interest in molecular epidemiology. Molecular epidemiology is a new field that has emerged from the integration of molecular biology into traditional epidemiologic research. It focuses on the contribution of potential genetic and environmental risk factors, identified at the molecular level, to the etiology, distribution, and prevention of cancer. Even though prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States, very little is known about the epidemiological and genetic risk factors associated with prostate cancer risk. Dr. Strom’s research interest has focused on the role that epidemiologic factors (e.g. body mass index (BMI), diet, smoking) play in modulating PC risk and progression. In collaboration with Dr. Spitz, she determined that weight gain in adulthood is associated with a risk of being diagnosed with clinically relevant PC. Continuing with this research, her group has assembled a cohort of approximately 600 prostate cancer patients treated with only radical prostatectomy. In this cohort, they found that higher BMI at time of diagnosis as well as at age 40 were associated with increased risk of disease progression (i.e., biochemical failure) as men who were obese by age 40 were significantly more likely to experience biochemical failure. Interestingly, weight gain during early adulthood (age 25 to 40) showed a stronger association with progression than weight gain later in life. Among these patients she found an association between CAG repeat lengths in the androgen receptor gene and prognosis. Men with fewer repeats were more likely to experience biochemical failure, and this association was retained even after adjustment for clinical markers (e.g., PSA and Gleason score). Her group also evaluated common allelic variants in genes such as the b2-adrenergic receptor, Vitamin D receptor, Cyclin D1, and 5-alpha reductase, as possible markers of prostate cancer risk and progression among men of different ethnicities. Dr. Strom believes that differences in genotypic frequencies for key functionally relevant genes may partially explain racial disparities in prostate cancer risk and prognosis, and her group is continuing to integrate the genotypic data with information on diet, body composition, co-morbid conditions, and other lifestyle characteristics known to alter the hormonal milieu to gain insight into the role that plays in individual risk of developing prostate cancer and disease.


Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1155 Pressler Street
Department of Epidemiology
Unit Number: Unit 1340
Houston, TX 77030-4009
Phone: (713) 792-3020
Fax: (713) 794-1964

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1991 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Post-Doc, Cancer Epidemiology
1988 University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX, PHD, Epidemiology
1980 University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. B.S., Biology
1968 University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, M.B.S., Zoology

Postgraduate Training

1995 Genetics Course, The Jackson Laboratory Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics Course, Bar Harbor, ME
1993 Advanced Epidemiology, New England Epidemiology Institute, Boston, MA
1988-1991 Post-Doctoral Fellow, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, Louise Strong

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Pettaway CA, Song R, Wang X, Sanchez-Ortiz R, Spiess PE, Strom SS, Troncoso P. The ratio of matrix Metalloproteinase to E-Cadherin expression level: prognostic significance of mRNA and protein expression among African American prostate cancer patients. Prostate 68(13):67-76, 9/2008. PMCID: PMC2574568.
2. Rollison DE, Howlader N, Smith MT, Strom SS, Merritt WD, Ries LA, Edwards BK, List AF. Epidemiology of myelodysplastic syndromes and chronic myeloproliferative disorders in the United States, 2001-2004, using data from the NAACCR and SEER programs. Blood 112(1):45-52, 7/2008.
3. Guadagnolo BA, Zagars GK, Ballo MT, Strom SS, Pollock RE, Benjamin RS. Mortality after cure of soft-tissue sarcoma treated with conservation surgery and radiotherapy. Cancer 113(2):411-8, 7/2008. PMID: 18506733.
4. Moore T, Beltran L, Carbajal S, Strom SS, Traag J, Hursting SD, DiGiovanni J. Dietary energy balance modulates signaling through Akt/mTOR pathways. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 1(1):65-76, 6/2008. e-Pub 3/2008. PMID: 19138937.
5. Strom SS, Yamamura Y, Forman MR, Pettaway CA, Barrera SL, DiGiovanni J. Saturated fat intake predicts biochemical failure after prostatectomy. Int J Cancer 122(11):2581-5, 6/2008. PMID: 18324626.
6. Strom SS, Yamamura Y, Flores-Sandoval FN, Pettaway CA, Lopez DS. Prostate cancer in Mexican-Americans: identification of risk factors. Prostate 68(5):563-70, 4/2008. PMID: 18247399.
7. Strom SS, Vélez-Bravo V, Estey EH. Epidemiology of myelodysplastic syndromes. Semin Hematol 45(1):8-13, 1/2008. PMID: 18179964.
8. Sellick GS, Goldin LR, Wild RW, Slager SL, Ressenti L, Strom SS, Dyer MJ, Mauro FR, Marti GE, Fuller S, Lyttelton M, Kipps TJ, Keating MJ, Call TG, Catovsky D, Caporaso N, Houlston RS. A high-density SNP genome-wide linkage search of 206 families identifies susceptibility loci for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Blood 110(9):3326-33, 11/2007. e-Pub 8/2007. PMCID: PMC2200912.
9. Wang LE, Li C, Strom SS, Goldberg LH, Brewster A, Guo Z, Qiao Y, Clayman GL, Lee JJ, El-Naggar AK, Prieto VG, Duvic M, Lippman SM, Weber RS, Kripke ML, Wei Q. Repair capacity for UV light induced DNA damage associated with risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer and tumor progression. Clin Cancer Res 13(21):6532-9, 11/2007. PMID: 17975167.
10. Hernández-Valero MA, Wilkinson AV, Forman MR, Etzel CJ, Cao Y, Bárcenas CH, Strom SS, Spitz MR, Bondy ML. Maternal BMI and country of birth as indicators of childhood obesity in children of Mexican origin. Obesity (Silver Spring) 15(10):2512-19, 10/2007. PMID: 17925478.
11. Brewster AM, Lee JJ, Clayman GL, Clifford JL, Reyes MJ, Zhou X, Sabichi AL, Strom SS, Collins R, Meyers CA, Lippman SM. Randomized trial of adjuvant 13-cis-retinoic acid and interferon alfa for patients with aggressive skin squamous cell carcinoma. J Clin Oncol 25(15):1974-8, 5/2007. PMID: 17513803.
12. Li C, Liu Z, Zhang Z, Strom SS, Gershenwald JE, Prieto VG, Lee JE, Ross MI, Mansfield PF, Cormier JN, Duvic M, Grimm EA, Wei Q. Genetic variants of the vitamin D receptor gene alter risk of cutaneous melanoma. J Invest Dermatol 127(2):276-80, 2/2007. e-Pub 9/2006. PMID: 16990805.
13. Barcenas CH, Wilkinson AV, Strom SS, Cao Y, Saunders KC, Mahabir S, Hernández-Valero MA, Forman MR, Spitz MR, Bondy ML. Birthplace, years of residence in the United States, and obesity among Mexican-American adults. Obesity (Silver Spring) 15(4):1043-52, 2007.
14. Sonke GS, Chang S, Strom SS, Sweeney AM, Annegers JF, Sigurdson AJ. Prenatal and perinatal risk factors and testicular cancer: a hospital-based case-control study. Oncol Res 16(8):383-7, 2007.
15. Li C, Hu Z, Liu Z, Wang LE, Strom SS, Gershenwald JE, Lee JE, Ross MI, Mansfield PF, Cormier JN, Prieto VG, Duvic M, Grimm EA, Wei Q. Polymorphisms in the DNA repair genes XPC, XPD, and XPG and risk of cutaneous melanoma: a case-control analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 15(12):2526-32, 12/2006. PMID: 17164380.
16. El-Zein R, Etzel CJ, Lopez MS, Gu Y, Spitz MR, Strom SS. Human sensitivity to PhIP: a novel marker for prostate cancer risk. Mutat Res 601(1-2):1-10, 10/2006. e-Pub 8/2006. PMID: 16889804.
17. Strom SS, Kamat AM, Gruschkus SK, Gu Y, Wen S, Cheung MR, Pisters LL, Lee AK, Rosser CJ, Kuban DA. Influence of obesity on biochemical and clinical failure after external-beam radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer. Cancer 107(3):631-9, 8/2006. PMID: 16802288.
18. Li C, Larson D, Zhang Z, Liu Z, Strom SS, Gershenwald JE, Prieto VG, Lee JE, Ross MI, Mansfield PF, Cormier JN, Duvic M, Grimm EA, Wei Q. Polymorphisms of the FAS and FAS ligand genes associated with risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma. Pharmacogenet Genomics 107(4):631-9, 4/2006. PMID: 16538172.
19. Wang LE, Xiong P, Strom SS, Goldberg LH, Lee JE, Ross MI, Mansfield PF, Gershenwald JE, Prieto VG, Cormier JN, Duvic M, Clayman GL, Weber RS, Lippman SM, Amos CI, Spitz MR, Wei Q. In vitro sensitivity to ultraviolet B light and skin cancer risk: a case-control analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst 97(24):1822-31, 12/2005. PMID: 16368944.
20. Strom SS, Gu Y, Gruschkus SK, Pierce SA, Estey EH. Risk factors of myelodysplastic syndromes: a case-control study. Leukemia 19(11):1912-8, 11/2005. PMID: 16167059.
21. Strom SS, Wang X, Pettaway CA, Logothetis CJ, Yamamura Y, Do KA, Babaian RJ, Troncoso P. Obesity, weight gain, and risk of biochemical failure among prostate cancer patients following prostatectomy. Clin Cancer Res 11(19 Pt 1):6889-94, 10/2005. PMID: 16203779.
22. Wilkinson AV, Spitz MR, Strom SS, Prokhorov AV, Barcenas CH, Cao Y, Saunders KC, Bondy ML. Effects of nativity, age at migration, and acculturation on smoking among adult Houston residents of Mexican descent. Am J Public Health 95(6):1043-9, 6/2005. PMCID: PMC1449306.
23. El-Zein R, Gu Y, Sierra MS, Spitz MR, Strom SS. Chromosomal instability in peripheral blood lymphocytes and risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 14(3):748-52, 3/2005. PMID: 15767363.
24. Clayman GL, Lee JJ, Holsinger FC, Zhou X, Duvic M, El-Naggar AK, Prieto VG, Altamirano E, Tucker SL, Strom SS, Kripke ML, Lippman SM. Mortality risk from squamous cell skin cancer. J Clin Oncol 23(4):759-65, 2/2005. PMID: 15681519.
25. Loh ML, Martinelli S, Cordeddu V, Reynolds MG, Vattikuti S, Lee CM, Wulfert M, Germing U, Haas P, Niemeyer C, Beran ME, Strom SS, Lubbert M, Sorcini M, Estey EH, Gattermann N, Tartaglia M. Acquired PTPN11 mutations occur rarely in adult patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. Leukemia Res 29:459-62, 2005.
26. Chang S, Erdman JW, Clinton SK, Vadiveloo M, Strom SS, Yamamura Y, Duphorne CM, Spitz MR, Amos CI, Contois JH, Gu X, Babaian RJ, Scardino PT, Hursting SD. Relationship between plasma carotenoids and prostate cancer. Nutr Cancer 53(2):127-34, 2005. PMID: 16573373.
27. Strom SS, Gu Y, Zhang H, Troncoso P, Babaian RJ, Pettaway CA, Shete S, Spitz MR, Logothetis CJ. Androgen receptor polymorphisms and risk of biochemical failure among prostatectomy patients. Prostate 60(4):343-51, 9/2004. PMID: 15264247.
28. Zagars GK, Ballo MT, Lee AK, Strom SS. Mortality after cure of testicular seminoma. J Clin Oncol 22(4):640-7, 2/2004. e-Pub 1/2004. PMID: 14726503.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: Project 5: Prostate Cancer SPORE: obesity, prostate cancer progression and AKT/MTOR signaling
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Project Co-Leader
Principal Investigator: Logothetis
Duration: 9/2/2009 - 8/31/2014
Title: Genotypes and phenotypes of apoptosis and risk of head and neck cancer
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Co-Investigator
Principal Investigator: Wei
Duration: 3/2/2009 - 1/31/2014
Title: Identification of men with a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer: targeted screening in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and controls
Funding Source: The Institute of Cancer Research-UK
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Principal Investigator: Eeles
Duration: 1/28/2009 - 3/31/2014
Title: Molecular epidemiology of DNA repair in head and neck cancer
Funding Source: NIH/NIEHS
Role: Co-Investigator
Duration: 3/1/2008 - 2/28/2013
Title: Genetic epidemiology of chronic lymphocytic leukemia CLL
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator-MDACC
Principal Investigator: Slager
Duration: 8/23/2006 - 7/31/2016
Title: Mechanisms and prevention of environmental disease study
Funding Source: NIH/NIEHS
Role: Core Leader
Principal Investigator: Johnson
Duration: 4/1/1997 - 3/31/2013

Last updated: 8/14/2013