Cynthia A Thomson, PhD, RD

Professor, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Director, Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention & Health Promotion
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Medicine
Professor, Nutritional Sciences Graduate Program
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-1565
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Cynthia Thomson is a doctoral trained nutrition scientist and registered dietitian who leads a focused research program in lifestyle behaviors and cancer survivorship. She currently leads the multi-site, NRG Lifestyle Intervention in ovarian cancer Enhanced Survival (LiVES) Study, the largest trial ever undertaken to evaluate the role of diet and physical activity in promoting progression-free survival among women previously treated for ovarian cancer. In addition, Dr. Thomson has an R01 to evaluate the role of di-indolylmethane (vs placebo) in enhancing tamoxifen efficacy in breast cancer survivors. She directs the UACC Behavioral Measurements and Interventions Shared Resource (BMSR), a service designed to support lifestyle interventions and related behavior measurements in cancer prevention research. Additionally, she directs the UA Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion a center whose goal is to promote healthy lifestyles in Tucsonans as well as the Arizona Smokers' Helpline, a tobacco cessation helpline to support all Arizonans in their quest to stop tobacco use.

As a clinical translational scientist involved in lifestyle behavioral interventions for the modification of chronic disease risk with an emphasis on diet, cancer and obesity and one who has demonstrated success in leadership over time, Dr. Thomson is well-positioned to lead and support the Cancer Prevention and Control Program as well as the Behavioral Measurements and Intervention Shared Resource at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. In the past 20 years she has led numerous diet and health behavior intervention trials, including leadership as Site PI for the Women’s Eating and Living Study (Pierce), The Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (Chlebowski) and the Dietary Modification trial of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) (Prentice).

Currently Dr. Thomson is leading a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of di-indolylmethane in women taking Tamoxifen (1R01CA149417-01A1) and a large cooperative group study of lifestyle interventions for ovarian cancer survivors (NCT 00719303). As a doctoral trained nutrition scientist with expertise and a significant publication record in the area of diet, dietary measurement, and cancer, she is positioned to support researchers interested in cancer prevention/behavioral intervention research including assistance with clinical trial design, interventions and implementation as well as exposure measurement and analysis. Further, she has mentored dozens of junior faculty and students during her tenure at the university.

Dr. Thomson has developed a substantial network of colleagues and relevant resources to support junior investigators in achieving their research goals, a mentoring role essential to the on-going expansion of our CPC program at the cancer center. In the area of leadership she currently leads a research team of 35 staff, 4 pre-doctoral/medicine, a post-doctoral fellow, and 27 master’s and undergraduate level students in active training.

In 2014 Dr. Thomson was selected to direct the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline and immediately established a tobacco research team to expand the impact of this resource for cancer prevention research. She leads a similar research team of junior investigators who are using data from WHI to test hypotheses related to cancer and chronic disease risk reduction, resulting in over 25 manuscript publications in the past 4 years.

Dr. Thomson has led the Behavioral Measurements Shared Resource for the past 15 years, providing expertise in assessment of nutrient/bioactive intake, questionnaire administration and interpretation of dietary data including measurement error and bias to numerous investigators. Importantly, she has established a team of content experts to support advisement for investigators at the cancer center regarding other lifestyle measures and interventions including such areas as physical activity (Going, Garcia), sun safety (Loescher, Harris), tobacco (Muramoto, Gordon), and stress (Wiehs, Badger). These advisors also give input to our strategic planning and service provisions. In summary, Dr. Thomson is highly committed to assuring the success of UACC, through effective and strong leadership of the high impact, nationally recognized Cancer Prevention and Control program.

Clinical Information

Disease or Clinical Specialty: 
Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Prevention
Cancer Prevention
Ovarian Cancer
Women's Health

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Prevention and Control
Research Focus: 
Major Fields of Research Interest: Diet and cancer prevention (breast, ovarian, colon), Dietary methodology, Biomarkers (cancer and diet).
Selected Publications: 

Professional Information

Other Experience and Professional Memberships/Affiliations: 
  • American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO)
  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
  • American Public Health Association
  • American Society for Nutritional Sciences
  • American Society for Nutrition (ASN) (this includes ASNS, ASCN, SINR)
  • Arizona Dietetic Association
  • Society of Nutrition Education
  • Southern Arizona District Dietetic Association
Board Certifications & Licenses: 

Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition

Academic Information

Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Master's Degree: 
MS, Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Undergraduate School: 
BS, Family & Consumer Resources/Dietetics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV