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John Forbes, MB BS, FRACS, AM
Director of Research
Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group
Professor of Surgical Oncology
University of Newcastle
Seeking to improve risk assessment in high-risk women by identifying protein and gene biomarkers.
Analyses of clinical trial specimens including blood, tumor tissue, mammograms and clinical data are conducted to identify biomarkers to improve risk prediction.
The creation of a large biobank of clinical trial specimens ensures an invaluable resource to study breast cancer outcomes and identify risk prediction biomarkers.
Well-designed randomized clinical trials may provide information about prevention strategies and effective treatments for women at risk of, or diagnosed with, breast cancer. A major limitation of clinical trials, however, is that results apply to the trial group as a whole, but not necessarily to each individual woman, because individual responses are influenced by the patient's and the tumor's unique DNA, or genetic profile.
The goal of the BCRF research led by Drs. Forbes and Cuzick is to precisely identify risks for individual women based on protein and gene biomarkers that can predict outcomes for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. To do this, they created a High Risk Breast Bio-Bank (HRBB) that includes blood, tumor tissue, and mammograms with clinical outcome data and long-term follow-up of individual women in prevention and treatment trials.
In the coming year, Drs. Forbes and Cuzick will continue to add to the HRBB and conduct analyses of clinical outcome data and biomarkers to improve prediction of risks for the trial population. The following ongoing studies are new tissue sources for the HRBB:
1) A randomized phase II neoadjuvant trial called ELIMINATE, which is currently open to enrollment;
2) EXPERT is a randomized phase III trial of adjuvant radiation therapy versus observation following breast-conserving surgery and endocrine therapy in patients with molecularly characterized luminal-A early breast cancer; and
3) The pilot study IBIS-III is an International Breast Intervention Study investigating prevention of late recurrence in ER+ breast cancer survivors following 5 years of adjuvant aromatase inhibitor treatment.
Tissue collected from these trials will expand the excellent HRBB resource for future translational research.
John Forbes is Professor of Surgical Oncology, University of Newcastle (Australia); Director, Department of Surgical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital; and Director of Research, Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group. His breast cancer research encompasses national and international clinical trials to develop new treatments and prevention strategies. He graduated in Medicine at the University of Melbourne and completed his surgical training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and studied further at the Welsh National Medical School, Cardiff, Wales. On his return to Australia, he and colleagues established the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, and the International Breast Cancer Study Group, formerly known as the Ludwig Breast Cancer Study Group, and he was a founding member of the Breast International Group. He has presented papers at scientific meetings internationally, and published over 250 papers on many aspects of breast cancer – in particular on prevention, biomarkers and endocrine treatment. He Chairs, Co-chairs, or is a Member of Steering Committees for national and international breast cancer clinical trials, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In 2012 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), being recognized for service to medicine in the field of breast cancer research, to the development of improved clinical practice standards and service to the community. He was recognized as one of the world’s leading scientific researchers on Thomson Reuters’ list of "The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds – 2014."