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Jeremy Borniger, PhD

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Titles and Affiliations

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

American Association of Cancer Research

Research area

Understanding the link between the nervous system and cancer progression and resistance.


There is increasing evidence that breast cancer affects brain function and results in symptoms including poor sleep, cognitive problems, pain, and changes in appetite. There is limited understanding, however, of the crosstalk between tumors and the neuronal circuits that control cancer-associated processes. Dr. Borniger’s American Association for Cancer Research, supported by BCRF, is focused on unraveling the neural pathways that alter physiology and behavior, which are critical to developing novel therapies that target breast cancer as a systemic diseased rather than localized at the site of the cancer itself.

Progress Thus Far

In earlier work, Dr. Borniger and his team discovered a neural circuit that drives breast cancer-associated sleep and metabolic dysfunction. He and his team showed that non-metastatic breast cancer disrupts a signaling pathway that leads to activated neurons in the hypothalamus of the brain, causing fragmented sleep. Dr. Borniger has also observed widespread changes in neuronal activity across the entire brain in response to breast cancer. He and his team have now created a brain-wide map of neuronal activity in response to breast cancer growth and progression. So far, the findings have provided an unbiased window into breast cancer’s influence on the brain, highlighting a potential major center in the brain that is altered even at early stages of cancer before tumors are detectable.

What’s next

He and his team are now analyzing the data to uncover how breast cancer influences brain activity in four distinct stages of cancer development—from premalignancy to malignancy and metastasis—and will determine how neurons are changed and how they drive breast cancer. Dr. Borniger’s work represents a novel research area that has the potential to uncover new pathways that can be targeted for treatment and to deepen our understanding of the bi-directional communication between breast cancer and the brain.


Jeremy Borniger, PhD earned his BA from Indiana University – Bloomington in biological anthropology and PhD from The Ohio State University in neuroscience. Following his dissertation on brain-cancer crosstalk controlling sleep/wake states and hepatic metabolism, Dr. Borniger completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University working with Dr. Luis de Lecea on the identification of novel circuitry controlling sleep/wake states as well as central control of peripheral immunity. The Borniger Lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory aims to uncover mechanistic interactions between the brain and cancer and how manipulation of specific brain circuits influences cancer processes in the body.

Areas of Focus

Tumor Biology