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Mapping and understanding brain metastasis in breast cancer, with Dr. Priscilla Brastianos

Metastasis, when cancer cells leave the breast and spread to other sites in the body, is the major cause of mortality from breast cancer. The brain is one of the most common organs breast cancer invades, occurring in more than one third of patients with advanced breast cancer, up to 300,000 patients a year. The prognosis of cancer patients who develop brain metastasis is poor, with only 20 percent of patients surviving at one year. For Dr. Priscilla Brastianos, a BCRF investigator since...


The De-Escalation of Therapy, with Dr. Eric Winer

How should we – patients, family, doctors – consider the careful balance in identifying patients who might benefit from less rigorous course of treatment? Dr. Eric Winer, a BCRF investigator since 2003, studies this concept. Known as “de-escalation of therapy,” this form of personalized medicine challenges the “one-size-fits-all” approach to breast cancer treatment. His current BCRF-supported study aims to improve quality of life by reducing post-surgery chemotherapy in carefully selected...


What Should I Eat? We asked Dr. Walter Willett

“What should I eat?” It’s a question that Dr. Walter Willett thinks about every day as a researcher focused on the intersection of diet, lifestyle and health. Dr. Willett, a BCRF investigator since 2001, is widely considered a global leader on nutrition research. His research aims to characterize the impact of diet and lifestyle on health outcomes, especially in relation to breast cancer risk. As the most cited nutritionist worldwide, his work has influenced numerous health...


Improving breast cancer diagnosis and care in remote and low resource communities, with Dr. Lawrence Shulman

Did you ever think you’d end up working in Africa? Neither did Dr. Lawrence Shulman. But then we never had Paul Farmer as our intern. Dr. Shulman – an oncologist who specializes in breast cancer – did. Farmer, if you don’t know, is the American anthropologist and doctor who in 1987 co-founded Partners in Health, an international non-profit that, in its own words, brings “health care to the world’s poorest families.” That means in places like Haiti and Rwanda. Which is why some eight years...


Focusing on early treatment, with Dr. Luca Gianni

You likely know the expression, Pay It Forward. It’s an important concept for any kind of social awareness, but it can carry special meaning as well in the breast cancer world, particularly in research. That’s because so much of today’s important breakthroughs are built not only on yesterday’s participation of other patients, but, of course, the work of other researchers. It’s a sentiment Dr. Luca Gianni not only knows well, but also puts into practice every day. As you’ll hear, in this...


Evaluating natural cancer treatments with Dr. Susan Horwitz

Can life change with a single letter in the mail? For my guest today, it did, and subsequently, so did the lives of millions of people with various forms of cancer, including breast cancer. The letter in question came from the National Cancer Institute in 1977. The recipient was Dr. Susan Horwitz. The result: The creation of one of the most important cancer drugs that come from a natural product: Taxol, which is isolated from the yew plant. Today it is given to over a million patients. As...


Inspiration and insight from breast cancer patients, with Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi

At first glance, it would seem that any of us who follow the breast cancer experience would look to the investigators – the scientists, researchers and their teams – for inspiration. They are, after all, dedicating their lives to fighting cancer. In this conversation, you’ll hear the opposite. To listen to Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi, you hear the inspiration and insight that he and his teams gain from the grace of breast cancer patients – in particular, people who have triple negative breast...


New strategies to prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer, with Dr. Sofia Merajver

Dr. Sofia Merajver is a professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Michigan, where she is also Scientific Director of the Merajver Breast Cancer Research Program and Director of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk Evaluation Program. As you’ll hear, Dr. Merajver – who has been a BCRF Investigator since 2004 – discusses her unique, collaborative and extraordinarily human approach to one of the most significant science questions of our time: How to find new strategies...


Avoiding chemotherapy, with Dr. Joseph Sparano

It was among the biggest cancer news stories of the year: A new study – the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever conducted – showed no benefit from chemotherapy for 70 percent of women with the most common type of breast cancer. As the Washington Post described, that means: “most patients who have an intermediate risk of a cancer recurrence — a group that numbers 65,000 women a year in the United States — can avoid chemotherapy and its often debilitating side effects.” The TAILORx...


How does cancer grow?, with Dr. Ben Ho Park

How does cancer grow? Why do some cancers react positively to treatment while others seem to resist? Understanding these relationships, the genetic events and cell-to-cell interactions that lead to cancer, not only can provide better understanding of how cancer develops, but also drive potential new targets for drug development. Understanding these relationships also essential to the incredible work being done by Dr. Ben Ho Park. Dr. Park was recently appointed as co-leader of the Breast...


Making a difference in patients' lives, with Dr. Hedvig Hricak

Dr. Hedvig Hricak: is, among many other roles, Chairman, Department of Radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She also recently was honored by BCRC with the 2018 Jill Rose Award for outstanding research excellence. As you will hear, Dr. Hricak is extraordinary – not just in her work helping merge imaging technology with molecular medicine, but also in her teaching across borders. Among her wonderful lines in this conversation: “The best thing in life is to give,” and “The...


Studying breast cancer at the single cell level, with Dr. Michael Wigler

Breast cancer and technology. At first glance, they seem like totally separate topics. After this conversation, you’ll not only better understand the connection, but you’ll be waiting to learn what comes next. As you’ll hear, thanks to technology developed by our guest Dr. Michael Wigler – in collaboration with BCRF colleague James Hicks – researchers can now study breast cancer at the single-cell level, setting the stage for the development of new diagnostic tools that will aid in...


Managing the stress of cancer treatments, with Dr. Annette Stanton

Today, we have an outstanding and thoughtful conversation on stress, breast cancer, and the science of survivorship. We all, of course, experience stress, work, family, money, but what about health, in particular, cancers like breast cancer? Obviously dealing with illness, indeed dealing with ongoing treatments and procedures brings stress to a whole new level. How can women undergoing breast cancer treatments manage that stress? Perhaps more significantly, are there scientifically...


Attacking cancer's weaknesses, with Dr. Alan Ashworth

It sounds like something out of Game of Thrones: Attack the weakness. Today, we apply the phrase to a more important and real battle – the one against breast cancer. As you’ll hear, Dr. Alan Ashworth is part of a team that developed something called PARP Inhibitors and, quite creatively, identified ways to use them to attack the weaknesses of various cancers, including breast cancer. As a recent new report noted, “with three recent FDA approvals, and a number of Phase 3 trials ongoing, the...


A Closer Look at Metastatic Breast Cancer with Dr. Robert Schneider

Most women who die of breast cancer die from metastatic disease, the spread of tumor cells to different parts of the body. Metastasis often results following treatment failure, but it also can occur decades after what was thought to be successful treatment. Currently, no curative therapies exist for metastatic breast cancer. But today, the race to develop effective treatments for this disease is a key focus of some extraordinary research, much of it centering on cancer cells’ protein...


How randomized clinical trials can inform breast cancer prevention strategies, with Dr. Jack Cuzick

Well-designed randomized clinical trials may provide information about prevention strategies and effective treatments for women at risk of, or diagnosed with, breast cancer. A major limitation of clinical trials, however, is that results apply to the trial group as a whole, but not necessarily to each individual woman. That’s because individual responses are influenced by the patient's and the tumor's unique DNA, or genetic profile. So how might researchers precisely identify risks for...


All about immunotherapy with Dr. Jedd Wolchock

Immunotherapy – treating a disease by inducing, enhancing, or suppressing an immune response – remains one of the biggest hopes in terms of potentially finding a breast cancer cure. And yet, it also remains an incredibly challenging discipline. What works for one type of cancer may not for another. Why is that? What lessons can researchers take from successful cases – melanoma, lung or other cancers – and apply to breast cancer? And where, exactly, are researchers in finding an immunology...


Innovations in tracking cancer through the body with Dr. Peter Kuhn

What if we could track where the cancer is moving through the body, not by evasive biopsies, but rather through a common procedure we go through nearly anytime we visit a doctor. A simple blood draw. That's just one of the innovations I discussed with Dr. Peter Kuhn. It was a terrific conversation. Dr. Kuhn is not your typical researcher, part scientist. Kuhn's a physicist by training and part entrepreneur. That mix of disciplines comes across in how he thinks and how he approaches his...


Genetic variants that may cause breast cancer, with Dr. Fergus Couch

My guest is Dr. Fergus Couch who is, among many other roles, Professor and Chair of the Division of Experimental Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Couch works on the genetics of breast cancer, discovering and understanding the connections of inherited genetic variance in cancer susceptibility genes. He's also a BCRF Grand Tee since 2007. Dr. Couch has more than 300 publications, but the one we focused on came just a few months ago and it was an incredibly big...


How the environment impacts breast cancer, with Dr. Mary Beth Terry

While much of the focus around breast cancer rightfully looks at preexisting genetics, an important part of finding a cure also means looking at what's happening outside the body, specifically the environment. How does the air we breathe and chemicals we ingest every day potentially put us more at risk for the disease? What can be done to prevent it? As you'll hear, the work is a blend of intensely modern science and old-fashioned, hard-nosed research. Dr. Mary Beth Terry is a cancer...