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Francisco J. Esteva, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Medicine
Director, Breast Medical Oncology Program
Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
New York University, Langone Health
New York, New York

Current Research

Goal: To improve treatment and prevention of breast cancer metastasis with new therapeutic targets.

Impact: Dr. Esteva has discovered several genes that appear to play important roles in breast cancer biology. He and his team have developed tools that allow them to study how these genes work and how they can apply this knowledge to improve diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to improve breast cancer outcomes.

What’s next: The team will use advanced technologies to identify factors that predict response to preoperative HER2-targeted therapy in patients with stage II-III breast cancer. This information will be important for the design of clinical trials addressing resistance to targeted therapy in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Cells contain genetic material (DNA and RNA) that regulate cell processes by creating instructions (code) to make specific proteins. Mutations to DNA can lead to the under- or overproduction of a particular protein and promote tumor development and growth. However, there are also “non-coding” genetic molecules that don’t make proteins, and these appear to play important roles in breast cancer biology. Dr. Esteva is conducting studies to understand the interplay of protein-coding and non-coding genes in patients with aggressive breast cancers, which may lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Investigating the role of non-coding RNA in patients with aggressive breast cancers and how it could be used to improve treatment and prevention of metastasis.

Impact: The genetic material (DNA and RNA) in our cells regulate cell processes by creating code (instructions) to make certain proteins. Mutations to DNA can cause an excess or lack of a particular protein that promotes tumor development and growth. However, not all genetic material makes proteins, and little is known about the role these “non-coding” genetic molecules play in tumor growth. Dr. Esteva is studying non-coding RNA in patients with aggressive breast cancers, which he hopes could serve as biomarkers in blood and tumor tissue, as well as in prognostic tests and as therapeutic targets in breast cancer.

Current investigation: Dr. Esteva and his team are focused on understanding the interplay between protein-coding and non-coding genes in the development and progression of the most common breast cancer subtypes.

What he’s learned so far: The team’s work has revealed mechanisms of resistance to HER2-targeted therapies and developed novel therapeutic approaches to overcome resistance in patients.

What’s next: Dr. Esteva will apply next generation sequencing methods and artificial intelligence algorithms to identify molecular and clinical-pathological factors that predict pathologic response to preoperative HER2-targeted therapy in patients with stage II-III breast cancer. This information will be important for the design of clinical trials addressing resistance to targeted therapy in patients with HER2- positive breast cancer.

Biography

Dr. Esteva received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Zaragoza School of Medicine in his native Spain. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Cooper Hospital (Camden, NJ) and a fellowship in medical oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Esteva joined the faculty at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1997 and rose to the rank of Professor. In 2013, Dr. Esteva moved to the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University Langone, where he serves as Associate Director of Clinical Investigation, Director of Breast Medical Oncology, and co-Director of the Breast Cancer Disease Management Group. Dr. Esteva is board certified in medical oncology and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 2010 Dr. Esteva was inducted as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is a co-author in more than 200 publications including peer-reviewed research articles, invited reviews and book chapters.

Grid Reasercher Headshot - Esteva  Franciscoa

BCRF Investigator Since

2006

Donor Recognition

The Macy's Award

Area(s) of Focus