Gad Rennert, MD, PhD
Professor and Chairman, Department of Community Medicine
Director, Clalit National Israeli Cancer Control Center
Understanding the origins of early onset breast cancer.
The underlying cause of most breast cancers is unknown—only about 20 percent are explained by single mutations in known breast cancer genes. Continuous funding from BCRF enabled Dr. Rennert and his team to develop one of the largest breast cancer studies in the world, incorporating 30,000-plus individuals—of Israeli and Arab descent—with and without breast cancer. This study now has 20 years of follow up, making it rich with data to inform health habits and risk factors, over time, and trends in breast cancer incidence and mortality. The biological samples from this study, banked over time, now benefit from new analytical technologies and are subjected to retroactive tests to develop new insights. Leveraging this information, the team are looking at the differences between tumors of patients who inherited mutated genes that predispose them to breast cancer, versus patients who do not possess any known mutations. This could help identify non-inherited causes of breast cancer, along with new prevention strategies.
This year, the study focused on a cohort of 1,650 women who developed breast cancer before the age of 46 years. They were studied for mutations in all common genes reported to be associated with breast cancer occurrence. In women without these mutations, they were tested for genetic indicators of immunological processes in the tissue. While still in process, several differences were identified between mutation carriers and those where mutations have not been identified.
Dr. Rennert’s team will continue their study of immunological changes in tumors from patients lacking common breast cancer mutations. Identifying immunological events in the tissue that drive cancer progression can lead not only to prevention but also to designing new treatment avenues.
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.
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