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Eric P. Winer, MD

Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Faculty Advancement
Chief, Division of Breast Oncology
Thompson Chair in Breast Cancer Research
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Current Research

Goal: To improve quality of life for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. 

Impact: Dr. Winer is conducting studies aimed at identifying patients with HER2-positive breast cancer who may forego post-surgery chemotherapy. His work could spare many from unnecessary treatment and the associated side effects and costs.

What’s next: He and his team will launch a nationwide trial to understand the comfort level of patients with low-risk HER2-positive breast cancer, and their doctors, HER2-targeted therapy alone without added chemotherapy. 

More than 90 percent of patients with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer are cured with modern treatment regimens. However, many receive more treatment than they need, which exposes them toxic therapies and adds to their financial burden. Dr. Winer is pursuing ways to determine whether patients with no residual cancer following pre-surgical (neoadjuvant) therapy can be treated with HER2-targeted drugs alone without additional chemotherapy.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Advancing precision medicine with strategies that will deliver the right drug to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. 

Impact: Once an aggressive and lethal disease, HER2-positive breast cancer is often curable with modern medicines that target the HER2 protein. Some patients, however, will need more aggressive therapies including chemotherapy and multiple HER2-targeted agents. These options can reduce the risk of recurrence in patients with aggressive disease, but they come with added medical and financial toxicities. Under current treatment strategies, many HER2-positive patients receive two additional chemotherapy drugs after surgery even though the benefit of more chemotherapy is uncertain. Dr. Winer’s goal is to change the standard of care for patients who can achieve excellent long-term outcomes with less toxic treatments.

Current investigation: Dr. Winer and his team are conducting a clinical trial in patients with stages II and III HER2-positive breast cancer who have excellent response to their preoperative treatment. They will assess both attitudes and the willingness of patients and doctors to adhere to a reduced chemotherapy regimen after surgery.  

What he’s learned so far: He and his team are currently conducting the DAPHNe (De-escalation to adjuvant antibodies post-pCR to neoadjuvant THP (paclitaxel/trastuzumab/pertuzumab) clinical trial to examine less intensive chemotherapy regiments for 100 HER2-positive breast cancer patients who have excellent prognoses. The DAPHNe study closed in January 2020, sooner than expected, after reaching its planned enrollment number. Dr. Winer believes that the rapid patient accrual to the DAPHNe trial reflects patients’ and their doctors’ excitement about a tailored approach to care in stage II and III HER2-positive breast cancer.

What’s next: The results of the DAPHNe trial will help to inform two new trials that are based on the design of DAPHNe. The first is a nationwide clinical trial called COMPASS, set to begin in 2020, that will investigate the same questions on a larger scale. The second is small, 171 patient clinical trial called MARGOT that will test margetuximab, a new HER2-targeted antibody therapy, in patients who do not respond to trastuzumab.

Biography

Eric P. Winer, MD, is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Faculty Advancement, Chief, Division of Breast Oncology, and the Thompson Chair in Breast Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  He is the Principal Investigator of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center SPORE in Breast Cancer, and he serves as the co-chair of the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee that oversees the breast cancer clinical trials sponsored by the NCI.  Dr. Winer has received numerous awards for breast cancer research.  He has also been recognized for his mentoring efforts.  The Dana-Farber breast cancer program cares for thousands of individuals with breast cancer each year and has an extensive research portfolio with the goal of extending the lives of individuals with breast cancer and minimizing suffering from the disease. 

Dr. Winer is a graduate of Yale College, with a degree in History and Russian/East European Studies. He subsequently obtained his medical degree from Yale School of Medicine, followed by training in internal medicine at Yale. He completed a fellowship in medical oncology at Duke University Medical Center and remained on the Duke Faculty until 1997, when he moved to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to assume the role of Director of the Breast Oncology Center.

BCRF Investigator Since

2003

Donor Recognition

The Westchester Women’s Award in Memory of Marla Mehlman

Area(s) of Focus

Co-Investigators