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Monica Bertagnolli, MD

Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School
Brigham and Women's Hospital
President, Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

  • Seeking to identify biomarers from clinical trial samples to inform strategies to reduce morbidity and mortality from breast cancer.

  • Analyses of clinical trial data is conducted to identify biomarkers of drug resistance in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

  • These studies will help to improve treatment for patients with TNBC by identifying predictive factors of response to therapy. 

BCRF has provided critical support for the molecular analysis of tumor specimens from clinical trials. These efforts are fundamental to the development of biomarkers that can predict risk of recurrence, response to treatment, as well as the identification of new treatment for drug-resistant tumors.

Dr. Bertagnolli serves as Group Chair of the National Cancer Institute-designated Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, which has a long and successful history of conducting clinical trials in the adjuvant and metastatic setting that aim to reduce morbidity and mortality from breast cancer.

In the coming year, Dr. Bertagnolli will continue work with colleagues, Terry Hyslop and Deanna Kroetz, to conduct analyses of a phase II clinical trial called CALGB 40603, which studied triple-negative breast cancer. Although triple-negative breast cancers tend to respond to chemotherapy, many do not respond. The team has received DNA from tumor and blood samples and has begun to assess the quality of the samples. Next, they will sequence the DNA.

In addition, Dr. Bertagnolli will study mutations in triple-negative breast cancer tumors. They hope these analyses will help to identify factors that can predict how a tumor will respond to treatment. This will improve personalized therapy and reduce side effects.


Dr. Bertagnolli is a Professor of Surgery at Harvard University Medical School, and an Associate Surgeon at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital . She is presently the Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. She is also a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at DF/BWCC, where she collaborates with colleagues in medical oncology, radiation oncology, and pathology to treat cancer patients in a tertiary care setting.

Dr. Bertagnolli maintains an active research laboratory focused on understanding the role of the inflammatory response in epithelial tumor formation. In 1999, she extended her basic laboratory observations to the clinical trials setting as the lead Principal Investigator of the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib Trial. This pivotal study, reported in 2006, demonstrated dramatic suppression of colorectal adenomas with selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition, but also uncovered unanticipated cardiovascular toxicity with these agents. Dr. Bertagnolli was an organizing member of gastrointestinal correlative science initiatives within the NCI-funded Cancer Cooperative Groups, where she facilitated integration of tumor-specific molecular markers of treatment outcome into nation-wide clinical cancer treatment protocols. She has had numerous leadership roles in multi-institutional cancer clinical research consortia, and from 2010-2011 served as Group Chair of Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB). Dr. Bertagnolli was elected in July 2011 to lead the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a new NCI-funded cooperative group formed by merger of CALGB, the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, and the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award
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