Titles and Affiliations

Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology
Associate Vice Chancellor Cancer Programs
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Research area

Improving the effectiveness of radiation for breast cancer treatment. 

Impact

Radiation is employed in a majority of breast cancer patients as at least one component of their therapeutic regimen. However, resistance, recurrence, and toxicity pose significant challenges for some patients. Dr. Haffty and his team are conducting a series of studies including laboratory studies to identify therapeutic targets in radiation resistant breast cancers; translational studies evaluating genetic correlates with recurrence, toxicity, and outcomes; and a clinical trial testing short course radiation before surgery. All are done with the goal of improving outcomes in breast cancer patients undergoing radiation.

Progress Thus Far

For their translational study, Dr. Haffty’s team is nearing completion of their robust database of approximately 1,000 patients who were treated with radiation therapy. Ultimately, the data will include 10 years of clinical follow-up information, patient demographics, and sequencing data for over 6,000 genes from patient blood. This collection of data could lead to new insights on the origins of radiation response and toxicity. In the laboratory, the team also established an important relationship between HIF-1alpha, a gene that propagates radiation resistance, and PARKIN—a gene that functions to suppress tumor growth in breast cancer. They will pursue this interaction in further studies. 

What’s next

Using the 1,000-patient database, the team’s initial analysis will look for patterns between genetic alterations in several DNA repair genes—which could contribute to radiation resistance—with patient outcomes. Their findings could point to potential radiation response biomarkers, or therapeutic targets for combination therapies with radiation. Their laboratory studies will continue evaluating how radiation interacts with PARKIN in radiation-resistant Triple-negative breast cancers and how to improve response by targeting the PARKIN pathway. And in the clinic, Dr. Haffty and team will launch a clinical trial testing pre-operative short course radiation prior to lumpectomy.

Biography

Bruce G. Haffty, MD is Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Programs at Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences. His medical school training, internship, residency and chief residency was at Yale.  Dr. Haffty was a Professor of Yale’s Department of Therapeutic Radiology, served as residency program director from 1992-2004, and Vice Chairman and Clinical Director from 2002-2005. He moved to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Cancer Institute of New Jersey in 2005.

Dr. Haffty’s clinical area of expertise is breast cancer, and he has focused on outcomes and prognostic factors women undergoing radiation therapy, evaluating novel molecular markers and potential targets, for which he has had many research grants and conducted numerous clinical and translational research programs. He has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles and 30 book chapters. He is consistently listed as one of the country’s leading physicians by Best Doctors in America and Top Doctors in New York and New Jersey.  In addition to a busy clinical practice, Dr. Haffty has served on numerous national committees related to research and education in breast cancer and radiation oncology. He is currently Deputy  Editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Haffty is a Past President of the American Board of Radiology and the American Radium Society, past Chairman of the Residency Review Committee in Radiation Oncology, and past  President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society for Radiation Oncology. Currently he is Chairman of the Board of RSNA (Radiological Society of North America).