Harini S Aiyer, PhD., got her undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Madras and a Diploma in Clinical Nutrition from Sri Ramachandra Medical University, Chennai, India. Following this, she received her doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY in 2007.
For her doctoral thesis, she studied the effectiveness of dehydrated dietary berries in preventing hormone-induced mammary tumors in rats. The female hormone 17ß-estradiol (E2) is implicated as a causative risk factor for the development of breast cancer in women.
Dr. Aiyer and colleagues used an animal model that closely mimicked this clinical scenario by inducing mammary tumors in ACI rats with E2. In this model, at least two doses each of dehydrated blueberry and black raspberry (1% and 2.5% w/w) as well as one dose of the berry polyphenol ellagic acid (400 ppm) were tested. Both berries and ellagic acid reduced the incidence, volume and number of mammary tumors per animal to various extents in the order 1% blueberry < 2.5% blueberry = 1% black raspberry < 400 ppm ellagic acid < 2.5% black raspberry. Berries and ellagic acid also reduced E2-induced hepatic DNA damage and significantly modulated enzymes responsible for the conversion of E2 to harmful metabolites in the mammary glands. This work on the prevention of mammary tumors by dietary berries and ellagic acid has been published in many peer-reviewed journals.
Dr.Aiyer is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington D.C and is funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research. She is studying the effects of dietary polyphenols, including berry polyphenols on the development of drug and anti-estrogen resistance in breast cancer.