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Exploring the Molecular Workings of Breast and Gynecologic Cancers

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J. Dirk Iglehart, MD

By exploring the molecular workings of breast cancer and gynecologic cancers, researchers and clinicians at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers (SSC) are gaining new insights into the many subtypes of these diseases. Under the leadership of J. Dirk Iglehart, MD, they are also studying how genetic similarities among different cancers can be exploited to develop more effective therapies.

The center’s many clinical trials – about 65 are currently open and a comprehensive list is available at clinicaltrials – provide patients with the latest treatments and therapeutic developments. Many trials evaluate treatments prior to surgery and study the vulnerability of a specific cellular process, allowing oncologists to quickly determine the effectiveness of a drug or drug combination and make necessary adjustments.

Critical to the success of this work is tissue from patients. A recent $5 million pledge from the center’s Executive Council has made it possible to significantly expand the center’s tissue-banking capabilities. Researchers have established the Tissue Resource for Research (TRR), which includes detailed protocols for the collection and preparation of tissue samples for storage, as well as state-of-the-art storage facilities. The material will be used to uncover cancerrelated gene mutations and identify blood proteins that signal the presence of early cancer.

Physicians and researchers in the SSC expand knowledge of women’s cancers through their own research and close collaborations with colleagues at Harvard Medical School and other leading institutions around the world.

Dana-Farber is a founding member of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium, comprised of scientists from 16 academic medical centers nationwide. The consortium started as a center-funded meeting of clinical researchers from across the country.

“The center hosts several clinical and research meetings each year,” says Dr. Iglehart. “Our faculty also present at and participate in leading national and international conferences to further the exchange of discoveries.”

Courtesy of  Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Turning Point From the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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