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Portrait of Dr. Laura Rogers
Dr. Laura Rogers with a patient

March 29, 2011

SIU Med School Receives Grant to Study Head and Neck Cancer

A physician at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a national grant from the American Institute for Cancer Research to test a program designed to prevent loss of muscle mass during treatment for head and neck cancer.  Total budget for the two-year grant is $165,000.

Dr. Laura Rogers, associate professor of internal medicine and member of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, is the principal investigator for the project. 

Patients with head and neck cancer often suffer serious decreases in their ability to eat, causing them to lose weight and muscle tissue as well as experience a negative impact on their quality of life.  The study will evaluate a number of head and neck cancer patients, who are starting radiation therapy.  They will be enrolled in a 12-week diet-counseling program.  Half will also receive strength training.  Results of the study may provide new ways to improve treatment and quality of life for head and neck cancer patients.

A researcher since 1989, Roger’s research funding at SIU also includes two exercise and breast cancer grants currently funded by the National Cancer Institute.  For more information about SIU exercise and cancer research, visit  In addition to Rogers’ exercise and cancer research, her previous research has focused on healthy lifestyles related to high cholesterol management, smoking cessation and osteoarthritis.

Rogers joined the SIU faculty in 2000 and is a member of SIU HealthCare.  She completed a two-year faculty development fellowship in general internal medicine at the University of North Carolina (1990) and her internal medicine residency at the Medical College of Georgia (1987).  She earned her master’s in public health at the University of South Carolina (2000), medical degree at the University of South Florida School of Medicine (1984) and bachelor’s at Erskine College (1980).

The Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU is focusing the medical school’s efforts in cancer research, physician and public education, and treatment for patients from across central and southern Illinois.  Its Web site is