New Cancer Center Member Focuses on the Interplay between Nutrition and Cancer

February 8, 2024 by Katelyn Queen, PhD

Trishnee Bhurosy, PhD

      Trishnee Bhurosy, Ph.D., started experimenting in the kitchen at the age of eight, paving the way for a successful career in nutrition. Born and raised in Mauritius, an island located southeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Bhurosy was inspired by nutrition research and completed her undergraduate and master's education in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Mauritius. As an undergraduate student, she led a study looking at the association between food habits, body mass index, and socioeconomic status among pre- and post-menopausal women. Later, as a graduate student in Mauritius, she developed and evaluated a nutrition education program to improve local sources of calcium among older adults. During those formative years, she became interested in the motivations for dietary practices and ways to improve the nutrition behaviors of different communities, leading her to pursue a Ph.D.
     Bhurosy completed her Ph.D. in Health Behavior, with a focus on nutrition, at Indiana University – Bloomington, where she led research projects and partnered with several community stakeholders to improve nutrition security among socially vulnerable populations. Motivated by her understanding of the high rates of cancer in her home country and its association with decreased nutrition and sedentary lifestyle changes, Bhurosy completed a post-doctoral position at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Before joining the University of Vermont (UVM), she worked as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Public Health at Hofstra University where she led the creation and implementation of the Dome Pride Pantry, a satellite food pantry that serves free food to any students, faculty, and staff in need. 

Bhurosy joins the UVM Cancer Center with a focus on nutrition security for cancer patients
Drawn to the quality of research, collegiality, and resources of the UVM Cancer Center, Bhurosy began her position as an Assistant Professor of Nutrition in August of 2023 and joined the Cancer Population Science research program. “The UVM Cancer Center’s opportunities for start-up funds, grant-writing support, and collaborations are a big part of why I am excited to be here,” Bhurosy said.
      An expert in nutrition security and health equity, Bhurosy is actively building her research program here in Vermont. Currently, she is investigating provider-level strategies and systemic approaches to improve access to medical nutrition therapy among cancer patients. Recent evidence shows that nutritional status is an important prognostic factor for response to treatment, survival, and quality of life among cancer patients. However, a study that Bhurosy led at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, demonstrated that less than 20% of cancer patients received any form of nutritional support during their treatment. Bhurosy says the reasons for this lack of nutritional support are multifactorial, but she hopes by focusing on the provider side of care, nutritional support may be effectively embedded into treatment conversations. 

Inspiring a future generation of cancer and public health scientists 
Bhurosy is a first-generation high school and college graduate who is actively working to diversify the cancer, nutrition, and public health workforces. This includes the implementation of a support group for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and international students of color in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences. Her goal is to support the next generation of researchers who might not have access to diverse mentors and resources to thrive in academia. “Representation is critically important. To be a professor – which is so far removed from the kind of professions people in my family have had the opportunities to be able to accomplish - is a big reason I am in this field,” reflects Bhurosy. “From my childhood until now, nutrition has been a very integral part of how I communicate and show my care for other people.” 

Trishnee with grad students Victoria Idehai and Pindar Mbaya standing in front of a poster at a conferenceTrishnee presenting at the Society of Behavioral Medicine Conference
Trishnee harvesting tomatoes Mentee Pindar Mbaya looks at food in the food pantry the Bhurosy lab started

Images from left to right and top to bottom: 1) Trishnee Bhurosy, PhD, stands in front of a poster with graduate students Victoria Idehai and Pindar Mbaya, 2) Trishnee Bhurosy, PhD, presents at the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference, 3) Trishnee Bhurosy, PhD, harvests tomatoes, and 4) Graduate student Pindar Mbaya looks at food in the food pantry the Bhurosy lab started.