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Dennis C. Sgroi, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Titles and Affiliations

Co-Director of Breast Pathology
Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School

Research area

Discovering new strategies to treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.


Estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer can be successfully treated with an anti-estrogen hormone (endocrine) therapy in most cases, but resistance is common. Dr. Sgroi is identifying predictors of treatment response in ER-positive breast cancers that can assist oncologists in the treatment-making process. The gene HOXB13 is expressed in some ER-positive breast cancers and is shown to be a predictor of hormonal responsiveness, but the mechanism is poorly understood. Dr. Sgroi is working to understand why HOXB13 predicts the benefit from extended endocrine therapy in women with ER-positive breast cancer, which will provide new avenues of treatment for ER-positive breast cancers that are resistant to anti-estrogen therapy.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Sgroi and his team have made several key insights into the role of HOXB13 in response to endocrine therapies. He and his team found that HOXB13-expressing tumors display a significant growth advantage as compared to those tumors not expressing HOXB13 that are driven, in part, by ovarian hormones and immune suppression.

What’s next

Dr. Sgroi and his team will follow on these observations using a HOXB13-expressing breast cancer model to characterize the tumor immune microenvironment and understand how hormones synergize with HOXB13 to generate immune suppression of tumors.


Dennis C. Sgroi, MD is a Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, and Co-Director of Breast Pathology and Member of the Center for Cancer Research at Massachusetts General Hospital.  He maintains an active clinical practice on the breast pathology consultation service, and he is actively engaged in translational research. He has served on the scientific advisory board for the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University and currently serves on the scientific advisory board for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

The overarching goals of research in the Sgroi laboratory are to develop better ways to identify patients who are at risk for the development of breast cancer and to identify those breast cancer patients who are likely to benefit from targeted drug therapies. His laboratory is taking several different approaches to achieving these goals. First, they are deciphering specific molecular events that occur during the earliest stages of tumor development and using this knowledge to develop biomarkers that will predict for increased risk of progression to cancer. Second, using advance molecular technologies, they are searching for novel breast cancer biomarkers to identify patients with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer who are most likely to benefit from extended hormonal therapy and from novel targeted therapeutics.

BCRF Investigator Since


Areas of Focus

Tumor Biology