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Thomas E. Rohan, MBBS, PhD, DHSc
Harold and Muriel Block Chair,
Epidemiology and Population Health
Leader, Cancer Epidemiology Program
Associate Director for Population Science
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, New York
Seeking to identify biomarkers that can predict the risk of metastasis.
Laboratory studies are ongoing to validate a group of potential biomarkers of metastasis and to identify new biomarkers to predict risk of invasive disease in early pre-cancerous lesions.
This research may lead to more accurate prediction models of breast cancer risk and improve the clinical management of women at risk.
Breast cancer mortality is largely due to metastatic disease (spreading of the cancer to other parts of the body), but clinical prognostic criteria such as tumor grade and tumor size do not adequately predict metastatic potential, and new methods are needed.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that control several cancer-related processes. Thus, improper miRNA expression may influence breast cancer prognosis, but their role in relation to the risk of metastasis is not fully understood.
In the course of his BCRF research, Dr. Rohan identified 14 miRNAs associated with risk of metastasis. This year, they will validate these markers in a study population of almost 4,000 women.
Continuation of this work will be to study mRNA in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a pre-invasive lesion, to identify gene expression patterns that predispose the patient to subsequent invasive breast cancer. They continue analyses focused on identifying risk factors for DCIS and invasive breast cancer, using data from several ongoing cohort studies.
The future goal is to test the miRNA markers in a large clinical study and validate them as accurate prediction models of breast cancer risk, and to guide the clinical management of women at risk.
Dr. Thomas Rohan is Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and Associate Director for Population Sciences in the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, and he recently completed a term as a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors. He is a cancer epidemiologist with extensive experience in the design, conduct, and analysis of studies of genetic/molecular, nutritional, and hormonal factors in the etiology and pathogenesis of breast cancer. He has published widely on these topics, and he has co-edited books on cancer precursors and on cervical cancer. Dr. Rohan also has extensive experience in conducting translational studies that involve multiple investigators and require careful planning and coordination.