Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami
Associate Professor of Surgery
John K. and Judy H. Schulte Junior Endowed Chair in Cancer Research
Associate Director, Breast Surgical Oncology Clinical Operations
Exploring how an individual’s neighborhood environment impacts their breast cancer development and growth.
An individual’s neighborhood impacts many aspects of their life with disadvantaged neighborhoods experiencing limited access to healthcare, good food, clean air and water, and more. In fact, despite significant advances in breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment, women living in disadvantaged compared to advantaged neighborhoods have higher breast cancer mortality rates. Dr. Goel is conducting studies to examine precisely how neighborhood disadvantage influences breast cancer survival and how neighborhood disadvantage “gets under the skin” and impacts an aggressive tumor microenvironment (TME). She hopes that her findings will enhance our understanding of the epidemiologic and genomic links between neighborhood disadvantage and an aggressive breast cancer TME. Her team will also examine the connection between psychological stress in these neighborhoods and tumor aggressiveness. Dr. Goel’s results may pave the way for future development of strategies to target modifiable factors and potentially level the playing field for those in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Dr. Goel and her colleagues will leverage epidemiologic and genomic data from the ongoing Miami Breast Cancer Disparities Study, a prospective longitudinal cohort study with 280 breast cancer biospecimens and validated survey data on perceived neighborhood stress. Samples from this large and diverse cohort of patients (approximately 55 percent Hispanic, 20 percent Black, 21 percent White) will be utilized to map the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which neighborhood disadvantage leads to aggressive tumor biology. Laboratory studies will focus on specific tumor drivers correlated with disadvantaged neighborhoods. On the patient level, distribution of neighborhood surveys will be expanded to assess if higher levels of perceived stress are also associated with an aggressive TME.
Neha Goel, MD is an Associate Professor of Surgery, surgical oncologist and scientist, and social epidemiologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of University of Miami Health Systems at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She has vast clinical expertise in the multidisciplinary management of breast cancer, melanoma, and sarcoma and is an internationally recognized expert in cancer disparities.
Dr. Goel received her medical degree from University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago in 2010 and completed a general surgical residency at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. She also has a master’s in public health from Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and has completed several other fellowships and training: at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital she completed a surgical critical care fellowship and a research fellowship at the Center for Surgery and Public Health; and at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, she completed a complex general surgical oncology fellowship.
Dr. Goel established and leads the Miami Breast Cancer Disparities Study, a prospective epidemiologic cohort study to understand multilevel pathways of breast cancer disparities. She is currently the principal investigator on multiple grants dedicated to using translational epidemiologic approaches to discover targeted therapies and cancer control interventions for diverse racial/ethnic and socioeconomically vulnerable populations, with the ultimate goal of improving cancer health equity.
The AutoNation and Dolphins Cancer Challenge Award
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