Titles and Affiliations

Robert and Kate Niehaus Chair in Inherited Cancer Genomics
Chief, Clinical Genetics Service
Vice Chairman, Academic Affairs
Department of Medicine,
Member, Cancer Biology and Genetics Program,
Sloan Kettering Institute
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

Research area

Identifying new causes of inherited breast and ovarian cancer and increasing knowledge and awareness of personal risk.


In addition to the BRCA genes, there are many other genes that, when mutated, predispose women and men to breast cancer. Dr. Offit and his colleagues are conducting studies to identify other genes involved in hereditary breast cancer. They have identified a rare inherited cause of breast cancer and a type of therapy that may benefit affected patients. Their work continues to add to our understanding of the genetic risk of breast cancer and inform more personalized strategies for preventing and treating the disease.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Offit and his team discovered a new class of susceptibility genes that increase risk for breast and other cancers. Over the past year, they performed a chemical screening of 10,000 molecules and found a small number that target these genes and are toxic to tumors. Dr. Offit and his team are analyzing DNA sequences from hundreds of families with unexplained breast and ovarian cancers. They also published their findings from the BRCA Founder Outreach Registry (BFOR) Study that demonstrated the utility of an internet-based model for BRCA testing of individuals of Ashkenazi ancestry. 

What's next

Dr. Offit plans to continue gene susceptibility discovery efforts in breast cancer-prone families and in individuals who have had multiple primary tumors. Dr. Offit plans to expand targeted genes to include BRCA2, ATM, and CDKN2A, with a focus on risk of prostate and pancreas cancer in carriers of mutations of these genes. Finally, Dr. Offit and his team are expanding the BFOR study with federal funding to test a new strategy that focuses on “cascade” genetic testing—testing family members of individuals with known cancer risk mutations. Initial modeling has shown cascade testing is a more efficient and timelier alternative to genetic screening of millions in the general population.


Kenneth Offit is Chief of the Clinical Genetics Service in the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). He is also Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Vice Chairman of the Program in Prevention, Control and Population Research at MSKCC. He received his AB at Princeton University and his MD and MPH from the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He was awarded an American Cancer Society Career Research Recognition Award and the 2013 ASCO American Cancer Society Award for research in cancer prevention. Dr Offit is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute, and of the Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention working group of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. Offit's research team identified the most common mutation associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in those of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. His group also published the first prospective study documenting a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer following oophorectomy in women carrying inherited mutations of the BRCA genes, and the first genome wide association study of BRCA2 mutation carriers. Dr Offit's group has discovered or characterized inherited mutations associated with risk of breast, ovarian, colon cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and other malignancies. His laboratory currently focuses on utilizing genomic approaches to discover novel mechanisms associated with increased risk for common malignancies, or which modify the risks of known hereditary predispositions.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Gray Foundation and BCRF Collaborative Award