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Rachel Schiff, PhD

Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas

Titles and Affiliations

Professor, Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center, Departments of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Associate Director of Education, Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center, Department of Medicine

Research area

Identifying and treating drivers of resistance in advanced estrogen receptor-positive and HER2-positive breast cancers.


While effective treatments for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and HER2-positive breast cancers are available, many tumors are or become resistant to these therapies. Drs. Schiff and Osborne and their teams conduct laboratory and clinical studies to understand resistance to endocrine and anti-HER2 therapy and develop new treatment strategies to overcome it. They have a growing panel of experimental models of drug resistance and metastasis, as well as data from clinical specimens—valuable resources to advance the understanding of the molecular drivers of drug resistance that can be shared with the wider research community.

Progress Thus Far

In the past several years, the research group has used their large growing panel of laboratory models of resistance to reveal several mechanisms of resistance to ER and HER2 therapies. They have also developed novel treatment combinations to target these vulnerabilities to overcome resistance. In (ER)-positive breast cancer, the group has identified key molecular factors in promoting endocrine resistance and metastatic features, co-inhibition of which could potentially overcome resistance, and potential new vulnerabilities in resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors that may be therapeutically exploited in future studies.

What’s next

Leveraging their unique collection of models of resistance, the team will focus on further expanding their panel of genetically diverse models of acquired drug resistance to current and emerging targeted agents. They will also continue to characterize these models at the molecular and functional level and integrate them with relevant clinical datasets. Their studies will set the stage for future clinical studies to prevent or overcome resistance and will also help optimize the sequence of HER2-targeted agents in clinical practice.


Dr. Schiff is Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, Sue & Lester Smith Breast Center and the Departments of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is an internationally recognized expert in breast cancer translational research and in preclinical therapeutic models, especially concerning endocrine, HER2, and additional targeted therapies. Dr. Schiff received her PhD in 1992 from Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. She joined Baylor College of Medicine in 1999 as a faculty member of the Sue & Lester Smith Breast Center.

Dr. Schiff’s research focuses on understanding key signaling pathways in breast cancer and on identifying therapeutic strategies to overcome them. Major interests include molecular aspects of estrogen receptor (ER) and HER2 action in breast cancer, the crosstalk between the ER signaling network and growth factor receptor and cellular kinase pathways, the role of ER co-regulators in breast cancer development and progression, mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapies, and the identification of biomarker and signatures of hormonal and anti-HER2 therapy resistance for therapeutic interventions. Dr. Schiff’s research is partly supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, BCRF, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.

BCRF Investigator Since



C. Kent Osborne, PhD

Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas