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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

  • Seeking new biomarkers to predict risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • Metabolic signals in blood from patients with early stage breast cancer will be combined with current risk assessment tools to improve risk prediction.
  • If successful, this strategy could help identify women with early stage breast cancer who may be at risk of recurrence.

Approximately 25 percent of patients with early stage breast cancer will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer recurrence is a serious clinical challenge and a source of anxiety that many patients experience after treatment ends. Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli are conducting studies to understand how metabolites in the blood may be used to identify women with a high risk of recurrence. 

Full Research Summary

Metabolomics is a relatively new scientific field in cancer, but one with great potential. It focuses on the molecules that are created during normal cellular processes. These molecules, called metabolites, are often found in the blood or other bodily fluids and can be used to determine what kinds of processes are occurring in cells. Cancer alters both the types and amounts of metabolites in the blood, and these can provide important clues about the cancer.

Drs. Fornier and Biganzoli are studying whether metabolites in the blood of women with early-stage breast cancer can help predict the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence. They have collected 730 blood samples from patients with early breast cancer and 109 samples from patients with metastatic disease from two trials run in Southeast Asia. Their analysis of these samples identified signals that predicted a higher risk of relapse.

Their current efforts are aimed at assessing the benefit of combining metabolomic risk analysis with existing models such as OncotypeDX® or AdjuvantOnline®. This year, the team will link information about the metabolomic pattern of each sample to the corresponding OncotypeDX® score of the tumor. Adding the metabolomic information is expected to increase the precision of the OncotypeDX® prediction of disease relapse. They are now performing a similar prospective (forward-looking) study to see if metabolomic information plus the OncotypeDX® score can predict recurrence in patients with early stage breast cancer.

The team also hopes to begin a small study that combines metabolomic analyses with other biomarkers to build a computer model to predict disease relapse.

Results from these projects could help identify women with early breast cancer who are more likely to have their cancer return after surgery. This will allow greater focus of treatments on this group, whereas those less likely to experience a recurrence may be spared unnecessary therapy.


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 Assistant 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