Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH
Chief, Division of Cancer Genetics and Prevention
Susan F. Smith Chair
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
BCRF Scientific Director
Assessing the biology of BRCA-associated, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.
Little is known about the biology of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers in tumors that also have inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 genes. BRCA-associated, ER-positive early-stage breast cancer may be associated with intrinsically less favorable biology, which could have higher risk of recurrence. This subset of breast cancers appears pathologically “intermediate” between BRCA-associated, ER-negative breast cancers and more common ER-positive breast cancers. This observation could mean that there is a unique mechanism by which some ER-positive breast cancers develop. Dr. Garber is working to understand the biology of BRCA-associated, ER-positive breast cancers more deeply and ultimately improve treatment for these patients.
PARP inhibitors are commonly used to treat BRCA-associated breast cancers independently of ER status, but a deeper knowledge of what drives these cancers is necessary for effective treatment. Dr. Garber is now assembling a cohort of patients with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, who are newly diagnosed with ER-positive breast cancer. She and her team are using state-of-the-art approaches to explore the loss of a DNA repair pathway and its effects on estrogen receptor biology. Revealing these biological signatures will pave the way to treat this breast cancer as effectively as possible.
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.
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