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Sherene Loi, MMBS (Hons), FRACP, PhD, FAHMS

University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Australia

Titles and Affiliations

Professor, Cancer Therapeutics
Head, Translational Breast Cancer Genomics and Therapeutics Lab
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Research area

Building large datasets to help tailor more effective treatments for younger patients.


Women younger than 40 years old with breast cancer have poor outcomes, with increased rates of both local and distant recurrence compared with their older counterparts. Although younger women have higher rates of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), paradoxically hormone receptor (HR) – positive breast cancer seems to be more aggressive in this population. To understand the biological reasons behind this observation, Dr. Loi and her team have been analyzing tumor samples in premenopausal women with breast cancer from the landmark Suppression of Ovarian Function Trial (SOFT) which demonstrated the benefit of the addition of ovarian function suppression to chemotherapy and endocrine therapy after surgery in women under 40.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Loi and her team are performing RNA profiling on thousands of tumor samples from the SOFT study to investigate and compare the prognostic significance of current gene expression-based signatures in premenopausal women. She has used a gene-expression based test (Prosigna®) that provides both intrinsic subtype information and a numerical “Risk of Recurrence” (ROR) score that stratifies patients based on the risk of recurrence at distant organs in ten years. The goal is to assess the prognostic and predictive ability of the Prosigna® intrinsic subtypes and ROR scores in premenopausal women with HR-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer. She and the team have found that the scores are prognostic in premenopausal women, particularly in a low-risk subgroup where an estimated ten-year probability of distance recurrence is less than five percent.

What’s next

They will continue to focus on understanding the immune biology of premenopausal breast cancer and analyses of these prognostic gene expression-based assays in the SOFT study cohort. They will also be investigating and characterizing the immune microenvironment of HR-positive breast cancer in young women. They will evaluate the level of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in digitized tumor samples and test for prognostic and predictive associations of TILS with clinical outcomes. Finally, the team will try to determine differences in the immune microenvironment in young (less than 40 years old vs greater than 40 years old).


Sherene Loi, MMBS, FRACP, PhD, FAHMS is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne and a fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. She is a medical oncologist and clinician scientist with expertise in genomics, immunology, and drug development in breast cancer. She has published over 295 peer-reviewed research articles and has ranked in the top 1% of highly cited researchers globally by Clarivate Analytics since 2018. She has won numerous international awards including, but not limited to: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research, European Society of Clinical Oncology’s Breast Cancer Award, and Prime Minister’s Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year (Australia).

Dr. Loi completed her medical oncology training in Melbourne and worked for a large clinical trial network in Brussels, Belgium for nearly a decade before returning to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as an independent researcher in 2013. She is the Executive Director of Breast International Group (BIG), Chair of the Executive Committee of the Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Aspects of Breast Cancer, and Board Director of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Australia New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, the largest breast cancer clinical trials cooperative group in Australia. She has co-chaired with Dr Roberto Salgado an internationally recognized pathology working group on immune biomarkers in breast cancer ( and is a scientific committee member of European Society of Medical Oncology, Molecular Analysis for Precision Oncology Congress, and Molecular Analysis for Precision Oncology Congress.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Cynthia Lufkin Award

Areas of Focus

Tumor Biology