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BCRF Investigator Since

2001

Donor Recognition

The Meredith Israel Thomas Award

Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH

Director, Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Director, Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts
Chairman, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Current Research

  • Seeking to identify signals in blood after breast cancer treatment that can predict long-term outcome in newly diagnosed patients.

  • Blood from newly diagnosed breast cancer patients is analyzed to look for gene mutation patterns that can identify patients at risk of developing blood cancer.

  • This study will shed light on a little known phenomenon relating to cancer therapy that may be important in preventing additional cancers after breast cancer therapy.

Low levels of acquired (not inherited) mutations have been found in many genes in the blood of healthy people. The prevalence of this phenomenon, called clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), increases with advancing age and may increase the risk of blood cancers.

Recent data suggest that chemotherapy for ovarian cancer can increase these mutations resulting in an increased risk of treatment-related blood malignancy. In the upcoming year, Dr. Garber and her team will collect specimens from newly diagnosed breast cancer patients before treatment and at two timepoints after treatment to determine whether chemotherapy increases the prevalence of these low-level gene mutations and whether the cells containing the mutations are cleared after treatment.

As a comparison, they will also analyze CHIP in a group of patients whose breast cancer diagnosis occurred five years before and who did not experience a recurrence to examine the association of CHIP with breast cancer outcomes. The results from these studies may provide a way to better way to predict long-term outcomes.

Bio

Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH is the Director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Attending physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Her interests focus on breast cancer genetics, risk reduction and the development of therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of breast and related cancers in individuals carrying predisposing mutations.  Her research includes the study of basal-like breast cancer, common in women with BRCA1 mutations. Her first neo-adjuvant trial of cisplatin in patients based on the role of BRCA1 in DNA repair demonstrated a significant complete response rate that has led to a series of trials, including a randomized phase II international, multicenter trial. Her research also includes the evaluation of novel agents targeting DNA repair defects in the treatment and prevention of triple negative or basal-like breast cancer, particularly platinums, PARP inhibitors and RANK ligand inhibitors.

Dr. Garber was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2013. She is a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research and a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board. She also served on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute. She has been a member of the BCRF Scientific Advisory Board since 2008.