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BCRF remembers Dr. Angela Brodie, Pioneer in Breast Cancer Research

By BCRF | June 12, 2017

Dr. Angela Hartley Brodie, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine passed away from complications of Parkinson’s Disease on June 7. She was 82.

Dr. Brodie was an internationally renowned expert in cancer research whose seminal work in the development of aromatase inhibitors represented a scientific breakthrough and paradigm shift in the management of post-menopausal, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

Commenting on Dr. Brodies’s impact, BCRF Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton remarked: “Angela’s struggle to gain support for her idea, as logical as it now seems to everyone, including her then-detractors, is legendary. The simple fact that she persisted against the odds has resulted in tens of thousands of saved lives. Her courage was one of focused determination based on absolute confidence in the rigor of her science, presented calmly, compassionately and with quiet grace. She is a role model for all of humanity.”

“The simple fact that she persisted against the odds has resulted in tens of thousands of saved lives.” – BCRF Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton

Dr. Brodie began her research in aromotase inhibitors with her husband Harry Brodie in the 1970’s. The research couple were searching for new compounds to be used for oral contraceptives. When one such compound called 4-hydroxyandrostenedione (4-OHA) was found to be unsuitable for contraception, Dr. Brodie began exploring its use to treat breast cancer. In 1994, 4-OHA (called formestane) was released, but due to its broad suppression of estrogen, it caused other medical complications. New formulations of aromotase inhibitors, including anastrozole (Arimidex®) exemestane (Aromasin®) and letrozole (Femara®) have significantly improved the treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer, benefitting thousands of women worldwide.

Dr. Brodie’s contributions over her 37-year career have been acknowledged with many prestigious awards including, the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research (2006), the Charles F. Kettering Prize for Cancer Research (2005), the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction  (2000) and the 2010 Jill Rose Award in honor of BCRF’s founding advisory board member and philanthropist, Jill Rose.

To learn more about Dr. Brodie, read this press release form the University of Maryland.