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Gerburg Wulf, MD, PhD
Harvard Medical School
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
- Seeking to identify novel therapies for triple negative breast cancer.
- Clinical and laboratory studies are conducted to investigate new drug combinations in advanced triple negative breast and ovarian cancer.
- This collaborative effort is opening new doors to potential therapeutic combinations to improve outcomes for patients with these aggressive diseases.
Advances in tumor profiling and the identification of the genes or proteins that drive tumor growth and progression has revealed potential new targets for drug development. Many of these new agents perform well in laboratory studies, only to fail in clinical trials with patients. One challenge to improving response to these targeted therapies is the lack of biomarkers to select patients most likely to respond and understanding how tumors resist these therapies. Dr. Wulf is conducting a series of laboratory and clinical studies aimed at identifying blood-based biomarkers of response and strategies to prevent or counter drug resistance.
Full Research Summary
A major hurdle for the successful treatment of patients with targeted agents is the identification of predictive biomarkers for responses. Dr. Wulf is working closely with several BCRF colleagues on efforts aimed at improving outcomes for breast cancer patients.
This year, she will focus on strategies to improve response to targeted therapies. Working with her collaborators, she will use blood from patients participating in clinical trials to identify biomarkers of response to a PARP inhibitor (olaparib) and a PI3K inhibitor (BYL719).
Another strategy is to test whether novel, MRI-based, imaging of breast cancers at an early point in treatment can predict later tumor response to targeted agents that inhibit PI3K, PARP, CDK4/6, and estrogen receptors.
Laboratory studies in collaboration with Dr. Lewis Cantley will focus on resistance mechanisms, particularly how the activity of the PI3K pathway leads to reprogramming of tumor cell metabolism and how to leverage this information to improve response to PI3K inhibitors.
Dr. Gerburg Wulf is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Attending Physician in the Breast Oncology Group at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center (DFHCC). She received her medical school and graduate training in Germany where she studied in Muenster and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry in Munich. After a residency at the University in Heidelberg she came to the US in 1991 for a post-doctoral research fellowship in Hematology at Beth Israel Hospital. She received further post-graduate training at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (Internal Medicine) and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (clinical Hematology/Oncology), as well as a second post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Cell Biology with Dr. Kun Ping Lu. Her current professional work is a combination of clinical practice and laboratory-based research. As a board-certified oncologist, Dr. Wulf serves breast cancer patients from the greater Boston area in the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic at BIDMC. She is an active clinical scientist and an NCI, ECOG and DFHCC investigator. Her focus is laboratory-based research where she is interested in novel treatment concepts for endocrine-resistant breast cancer. She is collaborating closely with Dr. Lewis Cantley, Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York, to develop and test in preclinical models novel combination treatments that include the use of a PI3Kinase inhibitors.