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David Rimm, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Pathology
Director, Pathology Tissue Services
Director, Translational Science in Pathology
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut

Current Research

  • Seeking methods to distinguish patients at high risk of breast cancer recurrence from normal risk patients.
  • Clinical trial data are analyzed to identify biomarkers that can select the most appropriate treatment option for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.
  • These studies will help to ensure that each patient receives the right treatment and is not exposed to additional therapy that is not needed.

There are currently five FDA-approved targeted therapies for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, but no way to tell which drug is right for an individual patient. Dr. Rimm is using patient samples collected as part of a large clinical trial to identify markers that predict response to various treatments and combinations. The goal is to develop an assay that can match the right drug to the right patient. 

Full Research Summary

Trastuzumab (Herceptin®) is one of the most effective drugs for management of HER2-positive breast cancer. However, not all patients who take the drug are cured.

The goal of Dr. Rimm's BCRF research is to determine which patients are likely to recur so that treatments can be adjusted to prevent recurrence in that particular subset of patients. In a large international clinical trial called ALTTO, addition of the anti-HER2 drug lapatinib (Tykerb®) to trastuzumab helped some patients with HER2-positive breast cancers, but for most patients, the added therapy did not provide additional help.

Dr. Rimm will use the tissue obtained from patients enrolled in the ALTTO trial to better understand why some tumors do not respond to trastuzumab and test an assay to identify patients who might benefit from the addition of lapatinib. This study is ongoing and is expected to be completed this year.

Five drugs are currently approved to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, but no assay can define which patients will benefit from which drugs. This year, Dr. Rimm will continue research to define specific biomarkers and special combinations of those markers that may allow segregation of different patients to different HER2 therapies.


Dr. David Rimm is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the Yale University School of Medicine with a secondary appointment in Medicine (Oncology). He completed an MD-PhD at Johns Hopkins University Medical School followed by a Pathology Residency at Yale and a Cytopathology Fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia. His lab group focuses on quantitative pathology using the AQUA® technology invented in his lab with projects related to predicting response to therapy, recurrence or metastasis in breast cancer. He is a member of a number of correlative science committees for multi-institutional breast cancer clinical trials including SWOG, ALLTO, and TEACH. He also serves on the Molecular Oncology committee for the College of American Pathologists. He is an author of over 280 peer-reviewed papers and 8 patents. He has served on advisory boards for Genentech, Novaritis, BMS, Perkin Elmer, Dako, ACD, Avida , OptraScan, Metamark Genetics and Genoptix.

Researcher Headshot - Rimm David

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies’ North America Manufacturing & Distribution and Global Research & Development Award

Area(s) of Focus