Titles and Affiliations

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

Research area

To assess diagnostic tests that would help clinicians personalize breast cancer treatment by matching patients with the best treatment for their breast cancer.  

Impact

Chemotherapy can reduce the risk of recurrence of breast cancer, but there is no way to tell which patients will benefit. Clinicians face a similar challenge in determining which patients will benefit from new immunotherapy drugs. Dr. Rimm and his team are working to improve diagnostic tests that increase the sensitivity and specificity for matching the right drugs to the right patient so fewer people will be exposed to unnecessary additional treatments. They have discovered that an inexpensive test that measures the presence of a proliferation marker called Ki67 in tumor biopsies can identify which patients need chemotherapy and which can avoid it. While this test has been around for a long time, his team realized that standardization and quantification of this test may provide information that is comparable to the 21-gene recurrence score using the Oncotype DX® test, but at less than one-tenth of the cost. In the next few years, Dr. Rimm hopes to define the use of the Ki67 and other assays to enable their use in the clinic to provide patients with the optimum treatment for their breast cancer and improve treatment outcomes. 

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Rimm and his colleagues have defined a method of standardizing the Ki67 test across different clinical sites as an accurate predictor of response to chemotherapy. Since immunotherapy is also used in breast cancer treatment, his lab has used novel methods to assess the immune system status (by measuring the presence of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes TILs) in breast cancer biopsy specimens to better determine which patients will benefit from immunotherapy and forgo chemotherapy.

What's next

Dr. Rimm will continue his work on the standardization and automation of several tests and their potential application in the clinical setting:

  • Ki67 testing 
  • TILs as a potential tool to determine which triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients may safely forgo chemotherapy 
  • assays for PD-L1 detection in TNBC patients so that clinicians/pathologists can determine which patients would benefit from PD-L1 immunotherapy.

Biography

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.

BCRF Investigator Since

2012

Areas of Focus