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Powel H. Brown, MD, PhD

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Titles and Affiliations

John Charles Cain Distinguished Chair
Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Research area

Identifying new targets for the treatment and prevention of triple-negative breast cancer.


Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) are the most aggressive form of breast cancer, have a very poor prognosis, and patients with TNBC have few treatment options. More strategies to combat TNBC are urgently needed. Dr. Brown’s goal is to identify more effective and safe targeted therapies for patients with TNBC.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Brown’s previous BCRF-funded work demonstrated that a protein called SOX9, suppresses cell death and is essential for the survival and growth of TNBC. However, the SOX9 protein is difficult to target in the clinical setting. To address this problem, Dr. Brown and his team have identified other proteins that interact with and likely control SOX9 activity in TNBC. The team recently identified a potential target protein that interacts with SOX9 to control cell growth and metastasis.

What’s next

In the next year, Dr. Brown’s work will focus on developing effective and well-tolerated targeted therapies for the prevention of BRCA1-driven breast cancer. The findings from this preclinical study may demonstrate the anti-tumor immune effects of targeted therapies responsible for the suppression of BRCA1 breast tumor formation. He hopes to identify key immune cells and novel immune targets important for the development of tumors with BRCA1 mutations that can ultimately lead to the effective prevention of this aggressive form of breast cancer.


Powel Brown is a physician-scientist and molecular biology researcher focused on identifying novel strategies to effectively treat breast cancer at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he is Chair of the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention. He is currently identifying molecules highly expressed in triple-negative breast cancer that are essential for growth, survival, and metastasis, and developing strategies to inhibit these molecules for the treatment of this aggressive form of breast cancer. Dr. Brown has previously used genomic techniques to identify distinct subtypes of TNBC with varying clinical outcomes (1), and have also identified specific kinases (2), phosphatases (3), and transcription factors (4) critical for the growth and survival of TNBC. Through his study of highly expressed and activated transcription factors in TNBC, he discovered that SOX transcription factors are essential for TNBC survival and metastasis. These results provided the rationale to target Sox9 for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer metastasis.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The AutoNation DRV PNK Award

Areas of Focus

Treatment Tumor Biology