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Monica Fornier, MD

Associate Member at the Breast Medicine Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Associate Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York

Current Research

Goal: To discover new biomarkers to predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Impact: Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli are studying the metabolomic profile found in blood samples from women with early-stage breast cancer to determine whether they can be used to predict the likelihood of the breast cancer recurrence. By identifying women at high risk of breast cancer recurrence, treatment can be tailored to level of risk for every patient.

What’s next: The team will expand their ongoing retrospective and clinical trials this year and continue to evaluate the metabolite profile of blood from patients with early-stage breast cancer.

Aggressive treatments aimed at reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence such as chemotherapy can be difficult for patients to endure. Unfortunately, there are limited ways to help determine which patients benefit the most from chemotherapy, so some patients receive therapy they don’t need. Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli are investigating how metabolites found in the blood of breast cancer patients could allow doctors to more precisely identify those who require aggressive treatments like chemotherapy and those who can avoid them.

Full Research Summary

Research area: Seeking biomarkers that would help identify women with early breast cancer who are more likely to have their cancer return after surgery.

Impact: Approximately 25 percent of patients with early stage breast cancer will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Recurrence is a serious clinical challenge, in part because doctors have limited tools that predict which patients are at the greatest risk of relapse—information that would help guide treatment. Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli’s study of metabolites (the molecules that occur as a result of cell activity) and how they vary in the presence of cancer could lead to refinements in risk assessment and help personalize treatment.

Current investigation: The team has launched a prospective study that aims to test whether metabolomic analysis of blood can further refine the risk prediction of the genomic assay OncotypeDX® in patients with early hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.

What they’ve learned so far: A retrospective proof-of-concept study demonstrated that metabolomic analysis can split existing Oncotype-defined recurrence risk groups, which could identify patients at the highest risk of relapse and allow doctors to tailor their adjuvant treatment accordingly.

What’s next: Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli plan to open a second site of the trial and increase patient accrual.


Dr. Monica Fornier is an Associate Member at the Breast Medicine Service of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Assistant Professor at Weil Cornell Medical College. She specializes in the treatment of breast cancer. She is also an Associate Professor at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York Presbyterian Hospital

Dr. Fornier graduated summa cum laude at the University of Milan (Italy); she pursued her Oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute of Milan, under the mentorship of Dr. Gianni Bonadonna, and a second fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, under the mentorship of Dr. Larry Norton. She is currently a member of the Faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she conducts clinical research in breast cancer. Dr. Fornier has been involved in the development and conduction of numerous clinical trials assessing novel drugs and drug scheduling strategies for the treatment of breast cancer, both in the adjuvant and metastatic setting.

Dr Fornier is an active member of various national and international scientific groups, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Society of Medical Oncology. Dr Fornier has numerous publications to her name and has presented data at international meetings. 

Large Researcher Headshot - Fornier Monica

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies’ North America Manufacturing & Distribution and Global Research & Development Award

Area(s) of Focus