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Neil Iyengar, MD

Assistant Member and Attending Physician,
Breast Medicine Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Associate Attending Physician, The Rockefeller University
New York, New York

Current Research

Goal: To develop a personalized intervention platform which matches patients to relevant lifestyle modifications to reduce breast cancer risk. 

Impact: Obesity has been shown to increase breast cancer risk and exacerbate existing disease. Dr. Iyengar is developing a personalized digital-hybrid tool to help patients with lifestyle modifications that have been shown to lower breast cancer risk. His work could lead to further personalized prevention strategies and improve outcomes in those who do develop breast cancer.

What’s next: Dr. Iyengar will develop a lifestyle intervention pilot called the Optimal Living Program. This tool will provide individualized lifestyle prescription plans for people diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Lifestyle factors including exercise and nutrition can affect breast cancer risk. Dr. Iyengar is developing a personalized digital-hybrid tool to help breast cancer patients make lifestyle modifications and ultimately improve outcomes

Full Research Summary

Research area: To develop personalized prevention strategies for breast cancer patients.

Impact: Obesity increases the risk of several chronic diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is also a risk factor for several types of cancer including breast cancer that occurs after menopause. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can both reduce the risk of breast cancer and improve outcomes and quality of life after a breast cancer diagnosis. Dr. Iynegar’s research is focused on developing a personalized lifestyle intervention tool to improve patient outcomes.
Current research: Dr. Iynegar continues his ongoing studies, focusing this year on interventions to reverse the effects of energy imbalances associated with obesity. 

What they’ve learned so far: In previous studies, Dr. Iynegar and his colleagues showed that breast inflammation associated with obesity increases the risk of ER-positive breast cancer and that breast cancer patients with breast inflammation have a worse outcome. They further showed that as many as one-third of healthy weight women harbor inflammatory lesions in fat tissue that increase their risk of breast cancer.

What’s next: Dr. Iyengar is expanding on the results from his previous work to now focus on developing a new, multi-faceted lifestyle intervention pilot, called the Optimal Living Program, which will provide individualized lifestyle prescription plans for people diagnosed with breast cancer. The intervention will use a hybrid care model that includes online risk assessment tools, virtual education sessions, and telemedicine appointments with exercise physiologists, nutritionists, and nurse practitioners trained in lifestyle coaching. In this first stage, Dr. Iyengar will assess the feasibility of the Optimal Living Program and its impact on quality of life and blood-based markers of metabolism, inflammation and breast cancer prognosis.


Neil Iyengar is a medical oncologist and clinical-translational researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). He is an Assistant Attending Physician in the Breast Medicine Service at MSKCC and also holds a joint research appointment at the Rockefeller University as an Associate Attending. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago. He complete residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago followed by fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at MSKCC. His research has been supported by grant awards from several organizations including Young Investigator Awards from the Conquer Cancer Foundation and from Expedition Inspiration, as well as awards from the NCCN, the American Association for Cancer Research, and others. He has been invited to speak at international meetings and he has published several peer reviewed articles.

Dr. Iyengar steers the multi-institutional Obesity & Cancer Working Group – a highly productive translational research team that includes basic scientists, clinicians, epidemiologists, exercise physiologists, and other experts. Dr. Iyengar specifically studies the role of metabolic health and inflammation in the development and progression of breast and several other cancers. Given the rising rates of obesity worldwide, Dr. Iyengar and his team are working to develop feasible and highly-targeted preventive and treatment strategies aimed at adipose tissue inflammation, which are poised to have a broad public health impact.

Grid Researcher Headshot - Iyengar

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Play for P.I.N.K. Award