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Hanna Irie, MD, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, New York

Titles and Affiliations

Associate Professor of Medicine and Oncological Sciences

Research area

Investigating how to overcome drug resistance and restore drug sensitivity in triple-negative breast cancer.


Despite advances in treatments for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive form of breast cancer that is more likely to spread than other subtypes, it remains a deadly disease for many patients. While chemotherapy and immunotherapy are effective for some patients, not all respond or sustain their response to those treatments. Drs. Irie and Port are working to combat drug resistance in TNBC by understanding how cancer stem cells, a small subpopulation of cells found within triple negative cancers, contribute to and promote drug resistance. They are using these new insights to overcome resistance by identifying novel therapies that target cancer stem cells specifically.

Progress Thus Far

The team has identified a novel drug that kills cancer stem cells, restores chemotherapy sensitivity in TNBC, and blocks the growth of disease that has already spread in laboratory models. This drug inhibits multiple pathways that are active in breast cancer stem cells and triggers a favorable anti-cancer immune response in laboratory models by recruiting activated immune cells to tumor sites to kill cancer cells and block tumor growth. There is synergistic, sustained inhibition of triple negative tumors with this drug in combination with approved immunotherapy in their laboratory models of TNBC.

What’s next

The team is comprehensively characterizing the changes in immune cell composition and activity caused by cancer stem cell inhibition to better understand the mechanisms of immune evasion promoted by cancer stem cells. These insights will help them translate their promising findings for use in future clinical trials with the goal of enhancing the efficacy of immunotherapies and achieving cures for a larger population of patients diagnosed with TNBC.


Hanna Irie, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology and in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She received her MD and PhD degrees from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a clinical fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The focus of her research is to identify and validate novel therapeutic strategies for high risk and metastatic breast cancer. Recent research efforts have focused on oncogenes that regulate ephithelial-mesenchymal transition, drug resistance and metastases of breast cancer cells. Her laboratory collaborates with chemical biologists to develop and validate novel therapeutics targeting oncogenes and pathways. She and Dr. Port have worked on the generation of novel patient-derived estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) models that enable validation of novel therapeutics. Their work further investigates biomarkers of chemotherapy and immunotherapy resistance to complement validation of these novel therapeutics. She and Dr. Port serve as co-PIs of the Mount Sinai Breast Tumor Biospecimen Repository which has banked over 500 breast tumor specimens.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Amy Robach Award


Elisa Port, MD, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

New York, New York