Gad Rennert, MD, PhD
Professor and Chairman, Department of Community Medicine
Carmel Medical Center
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. Understanding the origin of malignancies that show up at a young age (more than 15 years prior to average diagnosis age) will help plan proper preventive measures. Dr. Rennert and his 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.
The team is conducting the study in a sample of 1,500 women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 46 but with no known breast cancer mutations, and thus far they recruited over 1,200 women who fit these criteria. Specifically, they suspect alterations in genes that regulate immune response, as well as other small genetic variants in the tumor, will help explain the early onset of breast cancer.
Dr. Rennert’s team is ruling nothing out to identify potential causal sources of breast cancer. Their analysis of tumor tissue includes genetic sequencing, and because genetic changes can be associated with outside factors, they are also exploring the association between ethnicity, lifestyle behaviors, environmental exposure, reproductive history, and the immune system’s infiltration of tumors.
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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