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Gad Rennert, MD, PhD
Director, Clalit National Israeli Cancer Control Center
Professor and Chairman,
Department of Community Medicine
Carmel Medical Center
- Seeking to understand the causes and characteristics of breast cancers in different populations.
- Efforts are ongoing to determine how inherited genetic mutations and environmental exposures affect tumor characteristics in an ethnically diverse group of breast cancer patients.
- This work is providing new insight into the causes of breast cancer that influence outcomes in Middle Eastern populations and may lead to new prevention and treatment strategies.
Breast cancer outcomes are influenced by a variety of factors, including environmental exposures, such as diet and exercise, as well as genetic factors specific to family or race. These factors also interact with each other so that each person’s breast cancer experience is unique. Dr. Rennert is leading an international effort to understand the influences of genetic and environment on breast cancer outcomes in an ethnically diverse group of Middle Eastern women.
Full Research Summary
Breast cancer outcomes and response to treatment are affected by multiple factors, including demographic characteristics (such as age at diagnosis and ethnic group), environmental exposures (such as reproductive patterns and obesity), and biological/genetic characteristics of the patient.
Dr. Rennert's BCRF-supported research aims to identify sub-sets of women with differing patterns of disease behavior, such as recurrence in the same or contralateral (opposite) breast, metastases (and site of metastases), and death due to breast cancer.
His group has recruited a large cohort of close to 10,000 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and is employing modern genetic methods to find associations with individual exposures, tumor characteristics and outcome. The study population includes Jewish women of many different origins (Ashkenazi, Sephardi) as well as Arab women of different origins and religions (Muslim, Christian, Druze), and different dwelling types (representing different risk exposure patterns).
These women were interviewed for a large variety of health habits (such as diet, physical activity, use of hormones, smoking etc.) and health risk markers (such as family history, medical history) and provided a blood sample for DNA analysis. Participants also undergo extensive genetic testing that includes testing for changes in multiple genes to identify markers that can further explain their disease behavior and survival patterns.
Dr. Rennert’s team has been able to identify a large variety of markers which can influence risk and survival of disease, potentially becoming a predictive tool to be of help when counselling women with breast cancer. Results from this study will enable a more personalized approach in planning optimized future treatments to maximize effectiveness and minimize unnecessary side effects.
Gad Rennert has been chairman of the Carmel Medical Center Department of Community Medicine and Epidemiology since 1992. He is a professor and the head of the public health and epidemiology teaching group at the Technion Faculty of Medicine.
Professor Rennert is also Director of the National Israeli Cancer Control Center and the Department of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention of Clalit and is leading its National Personalized Medicine Program offering testing, advice and policy on individualized molecular testing which dictates cancer risk and suitability for cancer treatments. He is responsible for the national breast and colorectal cancer detection programs in Israel and is a member of the National Oncology Council.
In 1984, Professor Rennert received his medical degree from Ben-Gurion Medical School. He received his PhD in Public Health from the University of North Carolina. He focuses his studies on understanding the behavioral and biological causes of cancer, with special emphasis on gene-environment interactions. He has been an invited speaker in key conferences, such as the Personalized Medicine World Conference, UPCP, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association of Cancer Research, St. Galen Cancer Prevention conference and San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
In addition to his activities at the Technion, Dr. Rennert is a reviewer for more than 30 international journals, an associate editor of two and serves on 10 editorial boards. He has published more than 200 papers in leading journals such as the NEJM, Science and Nature.