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BCRF Investigator Since

2008

Donor Recognition

The Play for P.I.N.K. Award
The Hale Family Award

Zhigang Charles Wang, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Surgery
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

  • Seeking new strategies for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, particularly breast cancers that have spread to the brain.

  • Laboratory studies are ongoing to test new drugs and immunotherapy combinations in sophisticated models of breast cancer metastasis.

  • The findings from this research are likely to have profound implications in advancing new treatments so urgently needed by patients with metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is an incurable, but treatable disease. New therapeutic options are urgently needed, however as these tumors are often resistant to many different drugs or only respond a short time.

PTEN plays a major role in negative regulation of PI3K proteins, which, if unregulated, strongly promote tumor growth. For this reason, PTEN is sometimes called a tumor suppressor.  Drs. Wang and Zhao recently uncovered an important mechanism by which a PTEN deficiency causes breast cancers to escape the immune system, raising the possibility of combining immunotherapy with anti-PI3K drugs.

In the coming year, the research team will evaluate combined immunotherapy and PI3K-targeted therapies in laboratory models of metastatic breast cancer and identify targets that may improve or impair the effectiveness of immunotherapy on breast cancer.

The findings from this research are likely to have profound implications in advancing treatment options for patients suffering from breast cancer brain metastasis.

Dr. Wang is also a co-investigator on a project with BCRF investigators Ursula Matalonis and Ross Berkowitz aimed at improving response to PARP inhibitors in ovarian and triple negative breast cancers. 

Bio

Zhigang Charles Wang received his MD from Shanghai Second Medical University in Shanghai, China and his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from New York Medical College. His resident training in pathology was completed at Rie-Jing Hospital in China and his post-doctoral training occurred at the Center for Blood Research at Harvard Medical School and at the National Institute for Dental Research. At the latter, he served as Senior Staff Fellow. Dr. Wang is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research and currently an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Dr. Wang's research is interested in the genetics of breast cancer, with a particular focus on the heterogeneity of the disease which he studies through detailed mapping of chromosomal lesions and analysis of genes critical for its pathogenesis. He has worked closely with other BCRF grantees, Drs. Andrea Richardson and James D. Iglehart, to discover the high genetic instability and signature chromosomal alterations of a highly malignant subtype of breast cancer (the basal-like tumor). He has also discovered a significant association between copy gain of chromosome 8q22 and distant metastasis in breast cancer patients that received post-surgery chemotherapy. Furthermore, studies are underway to identify critical genes in this chromosomal region as therapeutic targets and prognostic markers.

Recently, he became interested in the genetic similarities between serous ovarian cancer and basal-like breast tumors. In collaboration with Drs. Ross Berkowitz and Ursula Matulonis at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, he has begun a comprehensive genomic analysis of breast and serous ovarian cancer to discover the common chromosomal alterations and genes critical for the pathogenesis of both diseases.

Co-Investigators