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Lisa A. Carey, MD

Physician-in-Chief, North Carolina Cancer Hospital
Chief, Division of Hematology-Oncology, UNC School of Medicine
Preyer Distinguished Professor in Breast Cancer Research
Medical Director, UNC Breast Center
Lineberger Cancer Center
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Current Research

  • Seeking to understand how different breast cancer subtypes respond to treatment.
  • Analyses of primary and metastatic tumors is conducted to understand why some breast cancers spread to other parts of the body and others don't.
  • These studies will inform strategies to improve outcomes for patients with metastatic breast cancer and identify patients at high risk of metastasis.

The translation of laboratory findings into clinical practice relies on a multidisciplinary effort involving strong laboratory and clinical programs that are coordinated to translate new findings into practice. This begins with the acquisition of tumor tissue and clinical data from patients. Dr. Carey and colleagues are using a variety of tissue resources to understand how different tumors respond to treatment and how tumors that have spread to other tissues are different from the original tumor. 

Full Research Summary

Breast cancer is widely recognized as a collection of diseases comprised of different subtypes. Scientists are now discovering that the major subtypes of breast cancer can be further sub-classified, and this information will ultimately lead to better treatments.

Dr. Carey's research is focused on understanding the impact of these subtypes on how tumors respond to treatment. Through BCRF support, Dr. Carey and her colleagues have acquired blood and tissue samples from breast cancer patients participating in clinical trials, and studies from these samples have provided great insight into the molecular determinants of treatment response.

This year, the team is focusing on metastatic breast cancer by collecting tissue from patients with this advanced stage of disease. The UNC Breast Rapid Autopsy Program (RAP) allows patients with metastatic breast cancer to posthumously donate tumor samples for cancer research. The purpose of this program is to collect, store, and analyze samples of tumor and normal tissue from patients who have just died from breast cancer. 

The goals of these studies are to delineate the molecular evolution of breast cancer metastases when compared to the original breast tumor, and to understand how the tissue microenvironment is affected by, or contributes to, cancer growth. Dr. Carey and her team hope to leverage these translational efforts in primary and metastatic breast cancer to be able to realize personalized treatment for all breast cancer patients.


Lisa A. Carey, MD is an experienced clinician-scientist, Division Chief of UNC Hematology/Oncology and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Associate Director for Clinical Research. She has developed and been PI of multiple clinical and translational trials and has a particular interest in the clinical implications of different molecular subtypes of breast cancer. She was the lead author of a seminal JAMA article examining racial disparities among breast cancer molecular subtypes and the Clinical Cancer Research article that first explained the paradox of high chemosensitivity but poor outcomes among certain types of breast cancer. She was also PI of CALGB 40601, a randomized phase III trial of dual versus single HER2-directed therapy with mandatory research biopsies to identify predictive biomarkers. She serves as the mentor for medical students, medicine residents, and oncology fellows as well as two of the junior faculty in Medical Oncology. Dr. Carey serves on the NCI’s CTAC’s Breast Cancer Steering Committee. She was awarded a Doris Duke Clinician Scientist Award in 1999, a Career Development Award from the NCI in 2000, was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars in 2008, and was awarded the NCI Director’s Service Award in 2011.

Grid Reasercher Headshot - Carey Lisa

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Pink Promises Award in Memory of Sue Decina

Area(s) of Focus