Laura Q. Rogers, MD ’84, has built her career around the idea that medications are just one tool in a physician’s toolbox when treating chronic diseases. For nearly 30 years she has developed, tested and applied research related to healthy lifestyle behavior changes in people living with chronic disease, including cancer survivors. Rogers has served on the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) since 2012, most recently as a professor and associate director of the Division of Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine. She is also a senior scientist in several UAB research centers, including the Nutrition Obesity Research Center, the Center for Exercise Medicine and the Cancer Control and Population Science Program of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.
In all her appointments, she seeks to collaborate with other scientists to build impactful multidisciplinary research projects.
Born and raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, by the time Rogers was in sixth grade she already knew she wanted to be a doctor and use science to help people. She earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina. When looking at medical schools, a fellow Erskine graduate encouraged her to apply to the relatively young College of Medicine at USF.
Rogers chose to focus her medical studies on internal medicine and earned her MD from USF in 1984. She completed her residency at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and afterwards joined the faculty there. While her residency at MCG helped Rogers hone her clinical skills, joining the faculty sparked her interest in research.
For the next couple of decades, Rogers juggled raising her two sons with a variety of academic positions, clinical activities and research projects, first at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and then at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine.
It was in Memphis that Rogers’ work in preventive medicine began to flourish, focusing on the impacts of smoking cessation and dietary counseling for patients. Between Memphis and SIU, Rogers briefly returned to MCG. It was a fortuitous interval as she connected with faculty interested in exercise promotion and benefits in chronic disease populations and developed a passion for this area of research.
As her children became more independent, Rogers began to think about the next steps in her career path. Wanting to learn more about research design and epidemiology, she went back to school to earn a Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina in 2000.
The family then moved to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where Rogers began to build a research program in earnest. She would later grow that work into a bigger, multidisciplinary team at UAB. Her published work has since enhanced the knowledge base for understanding and successfully applying the social cognitive theory to exercise behavior in cancer survivors.
Rogers designed and successfully pilot tested the BEAT Cancer intervention, which assists breast cancer survivors in becoming and remaining more physically active. She led a National Cancer Institute-funded multi-center randomized trial testing the intervention’s effectiveness.
With Rogers serving as a co-investigator, the team has adapted the intervention to web-based delivery for older cancer survivors. Dubbed AMPLIFY, or Aim, Plan and Act on Lifestyles, the web-based intervention focuses on healthy eating, exercise and weight loss.
Amongst her other current pursuits, she is principal investigator on an NCI-funded project, Role of Gut Microbiome Composition in Psychosocial Symptom Response to Exercise Training in Breast Cancer Survivors, that is looking for effects of exercise on the gut microbiome and fatigue in breast cancer survivors.
Rogers is board certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine and is a fellow in the American College of Physicians and American College of Sports Medicine.
She met her husband, David, a fellow 1984 USF Health Morsani College of Medicine graduate, at USF and they were married during their second year of residency. The couple have two grown sons, and in their free time enjoy hiking, visiting historic sites and traveling to see their family.
For her outstanding career achievements and contributions to the study and understanding of the role of exercise in treatment of chronic disease, Rogers is an ideal choice to receive the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Distinguished Physician Alumna Award in Academics.