Titles and Affiliations

Professor of Medicine
Chief, Breast Medical Oncology
Co-Director, Yale Cancer Center Genetics and Genomics Program
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Research area

Identifying combination treatments that will improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy in patients with aggressive breast cancers.

Impact

The immune system plays an important role in the progression of primary breast cancer to metastatic breast cancer. Dr. Pusztai is conducting studies to assess the immune cell composition of primary and metastatic breast cancer to examine the changes that chemotherapy causes in the tumor genome and tumor -immune environment. Identifying and understanding the mechanisms of immunosuppression and immune evasion will provide the foundation for immunotherapy combination therapies that could provide patients with more effective therapeutic options.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Pusztai and his team have identified a subset of patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers who benefited from immune checkpoint therapy. Over the last year, they have also discovered several new drug targets and are conducting laboratory studies of a new drug that inhibits a metabolic enzyme that is critical for cancer growth.

What's next

Dr. Pusztai is conducting a large, randomized clinical trial to test the benefit of adding preoperative immunotherapy for a subset of patients with ER-positive breast cancer. In the laboratory, he and his team are continuing to study the immune microenvironment of breast cancer and the cancer genome to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited therapeutically. They are currently developing a novel antibody-drug conjugate that specifically targets breast cancer cells.

Biography

Dr Pusztai is Professor of Medicine at Yale University and Chief of the Breast Medical Oncology Section at the Yale Cancer Center. He is also Co-Director of the Cancer Center Genomics and Genetics Program. Dr. Pusztai received his medical degree from the Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest, and his D.Phil. degree from the University of Oxford in England. His research group has made important contributions to establish that estrogen receptor-positive and-negative breast cancers have fundamentally different molecular, clinical and epidemiological risk characteristics. He has been a pioneer in evaluating gene expression profiling as a diagnostic technology to predict chemotherapy and endocrine therapy sensitivity and have shown that different biological processes are involved in determining the prognosis and treatment response in different breast cancer subtypes. His group has also developed new bioinformatics tools to integrate information from across different data platforms in order to define the molecular pathways that are significantly disturbed in individual cancers and could provide the bases for future individualized treatment strategies. He made important contributions to clarify the clinical value of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in different breast cancer subtypes.

Dr Pusztai is also principal investigator of several clinical trials investigating new drugs and potential response markers. He has published over 200 manuscripts in high impact medical journals and is the Clinical Editor of the British Journal of Cancer, Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Member of the Breast Cancer Steering Committee of the NCI and Co-Chair of the Trans-ALTTO Committee that oversees the translational research projects of tissues collected during two larger randomized clinical trials (ALTTO and NeoALTTO). He is also Chair of the Data Safety Monitoring Committee of the OPTIMA trial.

BCRF Investigator Since

2002

Areas of Focus