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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 (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 shown that a type of treatment that targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) combined with chemotherapy has a very high rate of pathological complete response  in patients with IBC.

One reason for this favorable response may be due to the dual targeting of this approach; the chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells directly, while the anti-EGFR therapy targets other tumor promoting factors in the tumor microenvironment (TME).

To explore this further, Dr. Ueno's team will use a laboratory model to test the effects of anti-EGFR drug on components of the TME. In the process, they will attempt to identify specific biomarkers that can predict the efficacy of EGFR-targeted therapy in IBC. They will also test this approach in combination with a drug that targets another component of the TME, called CSF-1 to see if this combination strategy will enhance the efficacy of EGFR therapy. CSF-1 regulates macrophages (immune cells involved in inflammation) that can promote tumor growth. 

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.

BCRF Investigator Since


Area(s) of Focus