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Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, FACP, FASCO

Professor, Department of Breast Medical Oncology
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
Chair, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Current Research

  • Seeking to improve patient outcomes by improving response to existing therapies and developing new ones.
  • Current research is focused on developing a novel approach to immunotherapy in breast cancer.
  • These studies may lead to alternative approaches to improving response to anti-PD-L1 therapies in breast cancer.

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive form of the disease, with no approved targeted therapies. Clinical trials with immunotherapies have shown benefit for some patients with TNBC, but the most patients receive very little benefit and may suffer severe side effects. Drs. Hung and Hortobagyi are conducting studies to employ novel approaches to improve response to immunotherapy agents.

Full Research Summary

New immunotherapies targeting the programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) have shown promising results in clinical trials for several cancers. However, only about 15-20 percent of breast cancer patients respond and there is an increased risk for developing autoimmune disorders from the therapy.

PD-L1 is a protein that is produced by many cell types including cancer cells. It works to regulate immune response by binding to its companion protein PD-1 on cancer fighting immune cells, thereby shutting down immune response. The normal functioning of this immune regulation can go awry in tumor cells, allowing tumors to escape immune surveillance and go undetected by immune cells that are capable of killing them. Therefore, it is imperative to develop better immunotherapy treatments.

Drs. Hung and Hortobagyi are exploring a novel approach to immune checkpoint therapy for the purpose of developing new PD-L1 targeted drugs, while also investigating the causes of resistance to these therapies in an effort to develop combination therapy to overcome the resistance.

In the last year, they identified new potential combination therapies and developed strategies to improve anti-PD-1 immunotherapy for breast cancer patients. They will continue to study the mechanisms of resistance to these agents over the next year.


Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi is an internationally recognized expert in clinical and translational research of breast cancer. He is Professor and the Chair Emeritus of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. He was Hematology/Oncology Training Program Director at MDACC for many years and continues as member of the educational faculty.

He is Past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and is one of the world's leading authorities on the management of breast cancer. Dr. Hortobagyi is recipient of numerous awards. He has over 1000 full-length publications in peer-reviewed journals, and over 140 book chapters to his credit. Dr. Hortobagyi served on various task forces and committees of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, served on the Board of Directors, and in 2005 was elected President. He served as President of the International Society of Senology, as a member of the U.S. National Committee for the International Union Against Cancer, the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Progress Review Group, and the Integration Panel of the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense, chaired the Steering Committee of the Breast Health Global Initiative, the Health Advisory Board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the NCI’s Operational Efficiency Working Group. Dr. Hortobagyi is currently the Chair of the Southwest Oncology Group Breast Committee and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Grid Reasercher Headshot - Hortobagyi Gabriel

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Blizzard Entertainment Award

Area(s) of Focus