Komal P. Singh, Ph.D., a nurse-scientist at Mayo Clinic, conducts research to improve outcomes for oncology patients. Currently, patients experience several debilitating neuropsychological and gastrointestinal symptoms related to cancer treatment. Some of these symptoms are persistent and continue beyond treatment completion into survivorship.
Associations between patient symptoms and exercise, dietary intake and changes in the gut microbiome composition profiles (both during and after chemotherapy) are limited. Currently, Dr. Singh is investigating these associations so that personalized interventions can be developed to improve patient quality of life.
- Evaluating predictors for chemotherapy-induced nausea. Dr. Singh has identified several clinical risk factors associated with chemotherapy-induced nausea. Her research has shown that several clinical factors, including neuropsychological and gastrointestinal symptoms, are associated with worse trajectories of nausea. Using latent-class analyses and a person-centered approach, she identified subgroups of patients at risk for nausea and investigated how these subgroups differ in terms of demographic, clinical and symptom characteristics.
- Investigating additional underlying biological mechanisms associated with symptom occurrence and severity. Using patient blood samples post-chemotherapy, Dr. Singh's research provides indirect evidence on associations between biological pathways influenced by the gut microbiome and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Through patient stool samples, Dr. Singh is investigating associations between chemotherapy-induced nausea and changes in gut microbiome composition profiles as well as changes in the metabolite concentrations during treatment and survivorship.
Significance to patient care
A better understanding of the associations between symptoms, changes in the gut microbiome and metabolites over time will reveal underlying biological mechanisms that can be targeted for treatment strategies to improve quality of life for patients undergoing cancer treatment.