City of Hope
Assistant Professor, Division of Breast Surgery, Department of Surgery and Division of Health Equities, Department of Population Sciences
Conquer Cancer – The ASCO Foundation
Understanding the biological factors that contribute to drug resistance in Black women with breast cancer.
Anti-estrogen therapy, also known as endocrine therapy, has dramatically improved outcomes in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease, but not uniformly in all racial groups. Despite the use of endocrine therapy, however, Black women still die at a disproportionately higher rate from ER-positive breast cancer. Research by Dr. Jones has confirmed that Black women have a different reaction to endocrine therapy, and she has identified a gene named UBE2C, which is expressed significantly higher in Black compared to white women, as being associated with worse survival in ER-positive breast cancer.
The African American Breast Cancer Epidemiology and Risk (AMBER) consortium established by the National Cancer Institute is a collaboration of four different national studies, including the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS), the Women’s Circle of Health Study (WCHS), and the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), and is one of the largest databases of breast cancer tissue from Black women. The focus of Dr. Jones’s Conquer Cancer research, supported by BCRF, is to utilize this database to characterize the gene expression in tumors of Black women treated with endocrine therapy and determine which factors, including sociodemographic factors and ancestry that are associated with expression of UBE2C. She will also determine if UBE2C is related to resistance to endocrine therapy by measuring the recurrence of breast cancer while on endocrine therapy treatment. Results from this project will help elucidate the role of UBE2C expression in endocrine therapy resistance in Black women.
Veronica Jones, MD, FACS is a breast surgical oncologist at City of Hope in Duarte, CA. She earned her undergraduate degree with honors from Stanford University before receiving her medical doctorate with honors from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. While in medical school, she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) National Medical Honor Society and traveled to Kenya to complete clerkships in HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. Dr. Jones continued her postdoctoral training at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX, with a categorical general surgery internship and residency. At Baylor, Dr. Jones was honored as chief resident of the year. In 2014, she completed a breast surgical oncology fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, GA before joining the faculty there as an assistant professor. She has been an assistant professor at City of Hope since 2015, with dual appointments in the Department of Surgery, Division of Breast Surgery, and the Department of Population Sciences, Division of Health Equities.
Board-certified in surgery, Dr. Jones is both a practicing clinician and translational researcher. Her overall goal is to mitigate breast cancer morbidity and mortality, especially in Black/African American women who disproportionately die from this disease. Her current research efforts focus on developing targeted therapies for ER-positive breast cancer to not only diminish racial disparities but improve survival for all patients with ER-positive breast cancer. To this end, she performs analyses to further understand the genomic and proteomic drivers of therapy resistance, recurrence, and progression. Additionally, Dr. Jones investigates novel imaging techniques to predict disease initiation and progression. She holds active memberships with several professional societies and is heavily involved in community outreach, speaking frequently at numerous events across Southern California.
The Women's Cancer Research Fund Award
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