My clinical and research interests focus on the treatment of patients with breast cancer. I am particularly interested in developing novel treatments for patients with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Compared with non-TNBC, these tumors generally occur in younger or black women, are of a higher grade, have a higher propensity to spread to distant organs, and have a worse outcome with a high rate of recurrences after adjuvant treatments. Thus, there is a dire need to develop tumor-specific targets in an attempt to improve the outcome for patients with TNBC.
I am the Principal Investigator on an NIH-funded clinical trial investigating a unique chemotherapy combination in the pre-operative setting in patients with triple negative breast cancer. This is an innovative co-clinical trial, in which we will simultaneously be developing patient-derived xenografts in immunodeficient mice. The ultimate goal of this project is to determine if we can increase the pathologic complete response rate at time of surgery by utilizing this chemotherapy combination. In addition, we will investigate molecular mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance using genomic and proteomic analysis.
I also collaborate actively with several scientists on clinical protocols in which immune therapies are used to harness the immune system to fight against breast cancer. In the largest and most rigorous investigation on NY-ESO-1 cancer testis antigen in patients with TNBC, we have shown that NY-ESO-1 is expressed in a subset of TNBC patients and leads to a relatively high spontaneous humoral immune response rate in these individuals. Progress continues to be made in understanding the interactions between the immune system and patients with breast cancer. It is through careful characterization of the different subtypes of TNBC through analysis of its genomic features and other indices detectable by IHC that progress will be made in using these differences for the development of personalized therapies.
I see patients with all types of breast cancer at the Siteman Cancer Center Main Campus and South County Campus. I am particularly interested in patients with TNBC and young women with breast cancer and provide them information on the latest research findings and clinical trials available. I am passionate about the patients and families I care for.