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Elizabeth Mittendorf, MD, PhD

Rob and Karen Hale Distinguished Chair in Surgical Oncology
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

Goal: To improve outcomes for more patients receiving immunotherapy treatments.

Impact: The first immunotherapy drug was recently approved for the treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC). While it extended the lives of some patients, most patients did not benefit. This study, called TRIBUTE, aims to understand why immunotherapy treatment works for some and not others and, ultimately, to extend its use for a greater number of patients.

What’s Next: Dr. Mittendorf and her team will collect clinical data and biospecimens from patients with mTNBC treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs). They will use state-of-the-art immune assays to identify biomarkers of response, which will inform future immunotherapy studies.

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that stimulates a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. While it has been effective in improving long-term outcomes in patients with certain types of cancer, relatively few breast cancer patients benefit from immunotherapy. Dr. Mittendorf and her team are working to develop a database which will provide a unique opportunity to study factors that may help us improve treatment outcomes for patients with this aggressive form of breast cancer.  

Full Research Summary

Research Area: To improve outcomes for patients with triple negative breast cancer receiving immunotherapy treatments.

Impact: Metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the most aggressive and fatal forms of breast cancer. While there are few targeted treatments, a recent breakthrough in immunotherapy brought new hope to patients with this disease. In spite of the results of the IMPassion 130 study, which demonstrated a significant benefit of the immune checkpoint inhibitor (CPI), atezolizumab in some patients, most patients did not benefit from the drug.

The TRIBUTE (Translational Resource for Immuno-Biology to Understand Therapeutic Efficacy) study was designed to identify biomarkers that may help select patients most likely to benefit from CPI therapy, as well as guide new research to improve response to CPIs for more patients. This study is supported in partnership with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI)

Current Research: This collaborative effort, led by Dr. Elizabeth Mittendorf, will follow patients treated with immunotherapy agents and collect clinical data, tissue, blood, and stool samples. This unique repository—a first-of-its-kind resource—will help provide the catalyst for further advancements in immunotherapy treatment for triple-negative breast cancer patients.

Learn more about this exciting partnership here.


Elizabeth Mittendorf, MD, PhD is the Robert and Karen Hale Distinguished Chair in Surgical Oncology and Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital. She is also the Director of the Breast Immuno-Oncology program and Co-Director of the Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center. Dr. Mittendorf received her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine where she also completed a residency in General Surgery. She then served on active duty in the United States military before completing a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Mittendorf also holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. She is board certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Elizabeth Mittendorf Image

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Hale Family Award

Area(s) of Focus