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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 some cases but is unsuccessful in others. 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 for ER-positive breast cancer patients for whom anti-estrogen therapy has failed.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Sgroi and his team have completed further validation of HOXB13 as a biomarker to predict benefit of extended hormone therapy in the Adjuvant Tamoxifen-To Offer More? (aTTom) phase III clinical trial. So far, their observations suggest that HOXB13 creates a pro-tumor immune environment that is fueled by estrogen.

What’s next

Dr. Sgroi and his team will use a HOXB13-expressing breast cancer model to characterize the tumor immune microenvironment to determine whether HOXB13 creates an immunosuppressive state. Furthermore, using this model, the team will determine whether estrogen promotes the HOXB13-induced immunosuppressive microenvironment.


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