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Naoto Ueno, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Current Research

  • Seeking to improve outcomes for patients with inflammatory breast cancer by developing novel therapies.
  • Laboratory studies are conducted to test targeted combination approaches to block the growth of tumor cells and shut down other tumor-promoting factors in the tumor environment.
  • These studies could lead to novel approaches that could improve outcomes for patients with inflammatory breast cancer, a rare but devastating form of breast cancer.

Inflammatory breast cancer is the most lethal and aggressive form of breast cancer because the disease appears rapidly, does not form a lump, and is often missed by doctors, screening tests, and even the patient herself. Dr. Ueno’s BCRF research is focused on improving treatment for this disease by targeting the tumor microenvironment–the cells and tissue that surround the tumor that can either promote or inhibit tumor development. 

Full Research Summary

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the most lethal and aggressive form of breast cancer and has a high rate of metastasis. Although the disease affects only 2-4 percent of breast cancer patients, it is responsible for about 10 percent of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. Novel treatment strategies to reduce IBC recurrence and metastasis are urgently needed.
Dr. Ueno and colleagues have previously shown that a type of treatment that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) combined with preoperative chemotherapy has a high rate of tumor response in patients with primary IBC. In subsequent laboratory experiments they showed that the EGFR drug increases the amount of cancer-killing immune cells and reduces IBC tumor growth. 
Their next step is to test the EGFR inhibitor with anti PDL-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Dr. Ueno expects that this work will lead to a new combination approach that will enhance the efficacy of EGFR-targeted therapy and identify IBC patients who would most benefit from this approach. The long-term goal is to reduce IBC patient death by developing a novel therapy that modulates the TME.


Naoto T. Ueno is a Professor of Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; his research is in the area of inflammatory breast cancer/triple negative breast cancer, the molecular mechanism of metastasis (cancer microenvironment), and tumorigenicity in breast cancer. He is best known for his preclinical development for E1A, EGFR, HER2, MAPK pathway targeting therapy leading to novel clinical trials related. He is the Executive Director of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program and Clinic and Section Chief of the Translational Breast Cancer Research at Department of Breast Medical Oncology.

He is passionate about education related to clinical/translational research. He received The University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2013. Dr. Ueno received the Nylene Eckles Distinguished Professorship of Breast Cancer Research in 2012.

Grid Researcher Headshot -  Ueno Naoto

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Award

Area(s) of Focus