Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Professor and Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology
Associate Vice Chancellor Cancer Programs
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Conducting studies to improve and personalize radiation therapy in breast cancer patients.
Radiation is at least one component of the therapeutic regimen employed in treating most patients with breast cancer. Dr. Haffty seeks to further understand how radiation therapy (RT) influences the molecular profile of the tumor, the patient’s immune response, and mutations and small changes that result in the patient’s genome. The studies are unique in that they span the spectrum of basic laboratory experiments, translational studies, and clinical trials in humans so that he his team can immediately link the results from each project.
Dr. Haffty and his team have established a suitable laboratory model to evaluate the immune response to RT. They have refined the model and technique and have shown significant immune response using various radiation schemes. The insights gained from these experiments will be compared to the immune response of several patients in the human clinical trial.
For their translational study, Dr. Haffty’s team has collected blood specimens from nearly 1000 breast cancer patients treated with RT and they have refined a comprehensive database of clinical, demographic, treatment and outcomes data. They are analyzing the blood specimens to identify gene mutations resulting from RT, including any mutations in genes related to DNA repair. The database is continuously being updated as they supplement the clinical data with the genetic information.
The research team enrolled 55 patients in a novel clinical trial where a portion of the RT is given before surgery (referred to as lumpectomy boost) and whole breast RT is given after the lumpectomy.
In the coming year, Dr. Haffty will continue to enroll an additional 53 patients into the clinical trial. They will evaluate immune markers in the lumpectomy specimens of patients treated with the pre-operative RT boost and compare these to those observed in the laboratory model experiments. The results obtained from these studies are important in determining how molecular and immunologic factors respond to radiation and provide the details researchers need to define a more personalized RT approach for patients with breast cancer.
Bruce G. Haffty, MD is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey Medical School, and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He is Associate Vice Chancellor for Cancer Programs at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. His medical school training, internship, residency, and chief residency was conducted at Yale University. Dr. Haffty was a Professor of Yale’s Department of Therapeutic Radiology, served as residency program director from 1992-2004, and was 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 laboratory is devoted to novel molecular targets in radiation therapy for cancers and his team has several ongoing clinical and laboratory investigations related to radiation treatment of breast cancer and other malignancies. He has published over 450 peer-reviewed articles and 30 book chapters. 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 Fellow of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (FASTRO), American College of Radiology (FACR), and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO). He recently became an Honorary Member of the European Society of Radiology.
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