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Priscilla Brastianos, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Titles and Affiliations

Director, Central Nervous System Metastasis Program
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Research area

Identifying new strategies for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer that has spread to the brain.


Breast cancer that spreads to the brain occurs in more than a third of patients with advanced breast cancer. While advances in cancer therapies have improved our ability to control breast cancer outside of the brain, more breast cancer patients are dying of brain metastases. The genetic and molecular drivers of metastasis are largely unknown. The overarching objective of Dr. Brastianos’ work is to characterize the tumor and immune microenvironment of brain metastases that will shed light on their fundamental biology and to ultimately identify novel therapeutic targets. Dr. Brastianos hopes to quickly translate her team’s scientific findings to innovative clinical trials for patients with breast cancer brain metastases.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Brastianos’ findings have revealed that there are clinically actionable genetic changes enriched in brain metastases compared to the original primary breast cancer, and this has led to clinical trials that are showing promising results in patients with brain metastases, including a national trial open at more than 400 sites throughout the US. Her BCRF-funded work also led to the identification potential biomarkers of response to immunotherapy in the central nervous system using the characterization of cerebrospinal fluid from patients with central nervous system metastases.

What’s next

In the coming year, Dr. Brastianos will build upon these findings and characterize the tumor-immune microenvironment of brain metastases using single-cell sequencing technologies. The hope is that data from this work will allow the team to define why metastatic disease is resistant to therapy and how to circumvent drug resistance in the brain.


Dr. Priscilla Brastianos is the Director of the Central Nervous System Metastasis Program at Massachusetts General Hospital of Harvard Medical School. Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, she received her BSc in biochemistry and chemistry from the University of British Columbia, where she graduated as her class valedictorian. She completed her medical school training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and her internal medicine residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Following her training at Johns Hopkins, she pursued her fellowship training at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. As a physician-scientist, Dr. Brastianos received a number of prestigious awards for her scholarship and research.

Dr. Brastianos’ research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive brain metastases. Her pioneering work has led to national multicenter cooperative group trials that she is leading. She also leads a multidisciplinary central nervous system metastasis clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her hope is that the findings from genomic studies will provide an understanding of the molecular pathways that drive brain metastasis, which will allow the development of more rational therapeutic approaches for this common and devastating complication of cancer.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Boston Hot Pink Luncheon Award in Honor of Nancy and Rick Kelleher

Areas of Focus

Metastasis Tumor Biology