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Jeffrey N. Weitzel, MD

Director, Clinical Cancer Genetics Program
Professor of Oncology and Population Sciences
Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope
Duarte, California

Current Research

  • Seeking to increase genetic screening and counseling for hereditary breast cancer in Latin America and Mexico.

  • An international team is engaged in the training of doctors and the recruitment of  women to undergo genetic testing for BRCA mutations.

  • These efforts are increasing access to early screening and appropriate genetic counseling that can save the lives of women at risk of breast cancer in Latin America and Mexico.

Although commercial testing for BRCA mutations has been available in the US for nearly two decades, access to BRCA gene testing and genetic counseling is not available for the majority of Latin American and Mexican families.

Dr. Weitzel is conducting an international project studying BRCA mutations among Latin American women, while helping these countries create an infrastructure of genetic counseling clinicians, and develop and test low-cost genetic testing tools to apply in their home countries.

He and his colleagues have made substantial scientific progress, in addition to an extensive training of doctors In Latin America. They have initiated patient accrual in Peru (Lima), Mexico (Monterrey and Guadalajara) and Colombia (Medellin and Bogota). A new site in Mexico City will initiate accrual soon.

Updates from last year show that BRCA mutation is prevalent in approximately 16 percent of the study participants in Peru and Bogota, Columbia, suggesting that doctors are referring patients appropriately, and that hereditary breast cancer is an important problem in these populations. A recent site visit to Peru provided confirmation of best practices including hospital staff seminars to promote appropriate referrals for genetic cancer risk assessment. Overall, 1,500 prospective samples from Latin America have been genotyped.

Identification of women at highest risk for breast cancer allows for limited clinical resources to be focused where they are needed most to detect breast cancer earlier, and prevent the disease.

These studies are advancing our understanding of the impact of BRCA mutations in Latina women and support efforts for early screening and genetic counseling an access to care.

Bio

Jeffrey N. Weitzel, MD is Chief of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics and the Cancer Screening & Prevention Program at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California. Dr. Weitzel is Board Certified in clinical genetics and medical oncology, and he is a Professor of Oncology and Population Sciences at the City of Hope. At the vanguard of personalized medicine, Dr. Weitzel’s multidisciplinary clinical, research, and training programs emphasize translational research in genomic cancer risk assessment, chemoprevention, targeted therapy, clinical and psychosocial outcomes, genetic epidemiology and health services research in underserved minorities, and hereditary cancer in Latin America. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the NCCN Genetics/Familial Risk Assessment practice guidelines committee. Dr. Weitzel is the principal investigator for the City of Hope Cancer Genetics Education Program and for the Clinical Cancer Genetics Community Research Network, which are funded by the National Cancer Institute.

BCRF Investigator Since

2013

Donor Recognition

Basser Initiative @ Gray Foundation and BCRF Collaborative Award

Area(s) of Focus