Research conducted by Samuel O. Antwi, Ph.D., focuses on the molecular epidemiology of cancers of the pancreas and liver. He investigates the genetic, epigenetic and nongenetic origins of liver and pancreatic cancers. Dr. Antwi seeks to understand how individual biological differences act independently or in concert with lifestyle factors to influence the risk for these cancers.
Dr. Antwi and his team use biospecimens obtained from individuals with cancer and individuals without cancer to perform genetic sequencing studies and mass spectrometry-based epigenetic analyses. The team creates molecular assays to identify novel factors associated with the development of pancreatic and liver cancers.
Dr. Antwi's laboratory also analyzes data from structured research questionnaires to identify nongenetic risk factors of liver and pancreatic cancers. His team examines the combined effects of the nongenetic factors and host biological differences on the risk of cancer development. A keen focus of Dr. Antwi 's research is biologically meaningful data analysis contributing to practical actions that benefit patients and populations.
- Genetic and epigenetic factors associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer. Dr. Antwi's research investigates the roles of inherited genetic variability, acquired epigenetic modification to DNA (5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine), and small molecules produced through the one-carbon metabolism pathway (for example, S-adenosylmethionine and S-adenosylhomocysteine) in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Findings from this research are expected to improve strategies for risk assessment and risk stratification as well as improve strategies for early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Genetic, molecular and nongenetic risk factors for pancreatic cancer. Dr. Antwi uses candidate gene- and pathway-based approaches to study the roles of genetic variants in pancreatic cancer development. He also studies whether molecular factors, such as telomeres, the telomerase enzyme and telomere maintenance genes, act independently or in concert to influence pancreatic cancer risk. Part of his research is focused on investigating interactions between inherited genetic variants and lifestyle factors, including obesity, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, and their effects on the risk of pancreatic cancer development.
- Racial and ethnic disparities in pancreas and liver cancers. Dr. Antwi and his colleagues recently established the Africa Hepatopancreatobiliary Cancer Consortium with the aim of investigating the genetic and nongenetic origins of pancreas, liver and biliary tract cancers among native Africans, African Americans and European Americans. The overarching goal is to identify the major drivers of disparities in these cancers for targeted intervention to ensure health equity across the cancer spectrum — from cancer prevention and early detection to treatment and survivorship.
Significance to patient care
The goal of Dr. Antwi's research is to provide sound molecular epidemiologic evidence to support the translation of findings from his research to cancer prevention, quantitative risk assessment and early detection of cancer before it progresses to incurable disease.
- Academic editor, World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2021-present
- Academic editor, Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, 2020-present
- Founding member, Africa Hepatopancreatobiliary Cancer Consortium, 2020-present
- Member, Cohort Consortium Associate Member Council, National Cancer Institute, 2019-present
- Recipient, Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 2013 and 2015
- Reviewer, Journal of Hepatology; Cancer Research; Journal of Clinical Oncology; Human Molecular Genetics; Carcinogenesis: Integrative Cancer Research; Molecular Carcinogenesis; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; American Journal of Epidemiology; International Journal of Epidemiology; JNCI Cancer Spectrum; and many others