Titles and Affiliations

Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Deputy Director, Center for Cancer Precision Medicine
Associate Member, Broad Institute
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, Massachusetts

Research area

Generating a clinical and genomic landscape of metastatic breast cancer through patient-partnered research.

Impact

Mortality from breast cancer is higher in Black women than in white women. However, the influence of tumor biology on this racial disparity is unclear, mainly because the tumor genomics of breast cancer in Black women is understudied. The goal of Dr. Wagle’s project is to improve our understanding of metastatic breast cancer in Black patients through integrated analysis of genomic, transcriptomic, clinical, and patient-reported data. Patients will be selected for the study via the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project (MBCproject), a nationwide initiative that seeks to empower patients to accelerate research by sharing their samples and clinical information. These efforts will aid the development of personalized therapy for patients with MBC, as well as inform the development of new therapeutic strategies, including targeted drug combinations or novel therapeutic agents.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Wagle and his team have continued to enroll patients in the MBCproject. They have analyzed initial tumor samples and germline samples from patients who have enrolled in the project so far and shared this clinical and genomic data publicly for access by all researchers. Dr. Wagle has also continued to develop outreach strategies to increase enrollment of Black patients in the MBCproject.

What’s next

Dr. Wagle’s goal is to enroll 1000 Black patients with metastatic breast cancer in the MBCproject and perform comprehensive genomic sequencing in tumors and blood from 250 participants. Once completed, this work should provide new knowledge about the biological characteristics of breast cancer that develops in Black patients. Dr. Wagle and his team will also create a shared unique resource of somatic and germline genomic information linked to clinical data, including patient outcomes, which should prove invaluable for future translational research questions. 

Biography

Nikhil Wagle is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He is the Deputy Director of the Center for Cancer Precision Medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He received his MD from Harvard Medical and completed his residency training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he also served as chief medical resident, and completed his fellowship training in hematology/oncology in the Dana-Farber/Partners program.

Dr. Wagle leads a translational research program in the field of breast cancer genomics and precision (or “personalized”) cancer medicine. The major goals of his work are to better understand the biology of metastatic breast cancer and to develop new ways to overcome or prevent drug resistance in patients with advanced breast cancer. Ultimately, his research aims to identify characteristics of tumors that might improve clinical decision-making for patients with advanced cancer.

He also leads The Metastatic Breast Cancer Project (mbcproject.org), a nationwide direct-to-patient research initiative that engages patients with advanced breast cancer through social media and seeks to empower them to accelerate cancer research through sharing their samples and clinical information. The project’s outreach program, developed in collaboration with advocacy organizations and patients, serves to connect thousands of patients around the U.S. with metastatic breast cancer research, allowing them to participate regardless of where they live.

BCRF Investigator Since

2016

Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies' Charitable Foundation Awards