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Christopher Li, MD, PhD, MPH

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
Seattle, Washington

Titles and Affiliations

Professor, Public Health Sciences Division
Vice President, Faculty Affairs and Diversity
Helen G. Edson Endowed Chair for Breast Cancer Research
Associate Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium

Research area

Improving outcomes for patients with luminal B breast cancer by identifying which patients are at a high risk of recurrence.


Existing risk prediction tools like Oncotype DX® are immensely helpful for guiding treatment strategies for many newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. For example, patients with a high Oncotype DX® score are those with an elevated risk of recurrence, and chemotherapy is recommended for those patients. Patients with a low score have a low risk of recurrence and can safely forgo chemotherapy avoiding its side effects. However, Oncotype DX® was primarily developed and assessed among patients with a subtype of breast cancer known as luminal A, whereas luminal B breast cancers, considered potentially more aggressive than luminal A, are without these tools. Dr. Li and his team will leverage patient tumor tissue samples from a large clinical study that included different subtypes of breast cancer to develop a new risk prediction model for luminal B breast cancer.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Li and his colleagues have performed deep molecular and genetic characterization of tumor tissue samples from 62 luminal B patients who experienced a subsequent recurrence and 62 patients who have not. They found 141 genes that have statistically significant different levels of expression between these two groups of patients.

What’s next

In the coming year, the team will build on these findings and develop a targeted panel of genes that can be used to identify high and low risk groups. This panel of genes combined with clinical and epidemiological patient data, will be used to develop a risk model that can be used to help guide clinical decision making for luminal B patients. The team will then test their model on publicly available breast cancer datasets, and potentially identify new treatment strategies for subsets of luminal B patients based on this new risk assessment.


Christopher Li, MD, PhD completed his medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco and his PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Washington. He is the Vice President for Faculty Affairs and Diversity at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and the Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of the Fred Hutch/UW/Seattle Children’s Cancer Consortium (an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center). He holds the Helen G. Edson Endowed Chair for Breast Cancer Research and is a full professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a research full professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington.

Dr. Li’s research spans breast and colorectal cancer early detection, screening, etiology, and survivorship. His work has identified novel risk factors related to the development of cancer and has evaluated the molecular features of cancer that are associated with poor outcomes. He also investigates the causes of disparities in cancer incidence, treatment, and mortality. Additionally, Dr. Li co-leads the NCI-funded SEER cancer registry serving western Washington state and Fred Hutch’s NCI-funded Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening Process (PROSPR) consortium Coordinating Center focused on improving screening for cervical, colorectal, and lung cancers.

BCRF Investigator Since