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Investigating Breast Cancer
34 minutes | Sep 1, 2021
Unraveling the Mysteries of Inherited Gene Mutations with Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad
How can genetic testing data encourage prevention and agency without amplifying personal fear? What can research reveal about genetic markers of risk and predisposition? Or, put differently, how can understanding one’s inherited risk improve approaches to precision prevention? Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad is on the forefront of this research, focusing on breast cancer–associated genetic mutations among various populations, including Arab and Ashkenazi Jewish women. She is a professor of internal medicine and medical genetics at Hebrew University and director of the Medical Genetics Institute at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
22 minutes | Jul 30, 2021
Perfecting and Personalizing Risk Assessment with Dr. Katherine Nathanson
While breast cancer is not typically caused by inherited factors, as many as 10-15 percent of people diagnosed with breast cancer carry a known genetic mutation. The most well-known mutations are in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. But these only account for 5-10 percent of inherited breast cancers, so what about the many other gene mutations that increase a person’s risk of breast cancer? Also, what does this mean not only for genetic testing—but also how we should consider results? More significantly, what effect might this have on the personalization of risk? We talk with BCRF investigator and cancer geneticist Dr. Katherine Nathanson to answer these questions.
33 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
New Approaches to Reducing Repeat Breast Cancer Surgeries with Dr. Mehra Golshan
There are many challenges in managing breast cancer. Top among them is the fact that initial breast conserving surgeries often miss vestiges of a patient’s tumor. In fact, up to 40 percent of women require another procedure following lumpectomy. Not only can additional surgery, of course, increase a patient’s anxiety and be physically taxing, but it can cause delays in critical subsequent treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. So, why is that rate so high? Why is properly identifying the tumor so difficult? Most importantly: What can be done to reduce repeat surgeries? Dr. Mehra Golshan is working to uncover answers to these questions. A BCRF investigator since 2014, Dr. Golshan is the deputy chief medical officer for surgical services and director of the Breast Cancer Program for the Yale Cancer Center, Smilow Cancer Hospital, and Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers.
34 minutes | May 13, 2021
Improving the Quality of Life for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors with Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield
How do you measure quality of life? As researchers across fields discover new drug therapies or disease prevention—in breast cancer as well as other fields—science finds innumerable ways to measure physical results. But what about the social, behavioral, and psychological aspects of cancer care? And how should medical providers discuss such realties with patients? This is just one area of extraordinary impact that Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield has made in medicine. Dame Lesley is professor of psycho-oncology at Brighton & Sussex Medical School at the University of Sussex where she is director of the Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer group. She has been a BCRF Investigator since 2016—the same year she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for services to psycho-oncology.
34 minutes | Feb 25, 2021
Understanding Radiation Resistance and Barriers to Quality Care with Dr. Lori Pierce
For so many breast cancer patients, radiation therapy can bring extraordinary benefits—top among them improved survival rates and reduced recurrence. But there are also challenges and questions: Why do some people experience a recurrence after treatment? How can we reduce side effects? How can we ensure the right patients receive radiation therapy—and that the treatment works as well as possible? These are among the many medical mysteries to which Dr. Lori Pierce, BCRF investigator since 2003, has dedicated her career to answering.
32 minutes | Jan 27, 2021
Connecting the Dots Between Breast Cancer Risk and Obesity, with Dr. Vared Sterns
Women with breast cancer who are overweight or obese experience inferior outcomes compared to those with normal weight despite receiving optimal therapies. Dr. Vered Stearns discusses researching ways to reduce breast cancer recurrence through effective weight-loss interventions and why we need to bring more discoveries from the lab to the clinic. Dr. Stearns is a member of the BCRF Scientific Advisory Board and has been a BCRF Investigator since 2003.
47 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
BCRF Symposium and Awards Luncheon 2020
Each October, BCRF-funded investigators are honored at the Foundation’s Symposium & Awards Luncheon in New York City. This year, the program was held virtually, without the lunch—but with all of the important conversations and ideas. The annual event announces the Foundation’s grant investment for the coming year and recognizes BCRF investigators for their trailblazing scientific inquiry. This year’s program included an extraordinary symposium, moderated by BCRF Scientific Director Dr. Judy Garber, that included Dr. Angela DeMichele, Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr. and Dr. Lori J. Pierce. We’re proud to make their discussion available in a special episode of Investigating Breast Cancer.
53 minutes | Nov 25, 2020
Improving National and Global Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Care with Dr. Funmi Olopade
Women of African descent are more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive breast cancers than white women and are more likely to die from their disease regardless of its type or stage. For those living in remote or low-resource areas, limited access to screening and genetic testing make improving outcomes even more challenging. In this episode of our podcast, Dr. Funmi Olopade, talks about her work in Africa and Chicago, the critical importance of precision medicine, and why she’s “impatient” about eliminating barriers to breast cancer care around the world. Dr. Olopade, a BCRF investigator since 2001, serves as the founding director of the Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic and associate dean for global health, both at the University of Chicago.
38 minutes | Oct 28, 2020
A Closer Look at the Evolution of Breast Cancer Cells with Dr. Kornelia Polyak
The immune system plays a critical role in tumor growth by attacking cancer cells with white blood cells. Cancer cells that survive this immune attack can become invasive and metastatic (a process called immune escape). In this episode of Investigating Breast Cancer, Dr. Kornelia Polyak shares the impact of understanding breast cancer at a molecular level. Dr. Polyak, a BCRF investigator since 2008, is an internationally recognized leader in the breast cancer research field.
40 minutes | Sep 28, 2020
Exploring the Many Intersections of Health Equity in Latin America with Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel
While genetic testing and counseling for breast cancer has been available in the U.S. for many years, accessing these services in Mexico and the rest of Latin America is more challenging due to limited resources. Leading genetics researcher and oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel, has devoted his career to decreasing these barriers. Dr. Weitzel, a BCRF investigator since 2013, is director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program and professor of oncology and population sciences at the Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope.
33 minutes | Aug 5, 2020
Closing the Gap in Breast Cancer Care with Dr. Mariana Chavez MacGregor
Research shows that when chemotherapy is delayed, a patient’s chance of survival falls significantly. Dr. Mariana Chavez MacGregor, a BCRF investigator since 2018, joined our podcast to talk about her work with underserved and underinsured patients—those who are most likely to experience delays—to develop personalized ways to improve healthcare access and, ultimately, outcomes. Dr. MacGregor is an associate professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, holding a primary appointment in the Health Services Research Department and a joint appointment in the Breast Medical Oncology Department.
29 minutes | Jun 30, 2020
The Promise and Potential of Breast Cancer Vaccines with Dr. Karen Anderson
One key goal in developing precision vaccines and immune therapies is to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Yet currently, there is only one FDA-approved immunotherapy drug for breast cancer, and it benefits just a small subset of women. In this episode of Investigating Breast Cancer, we talk with Dr. Karen Anderson about vaccines, harnessing the power of a person’s immune system, and reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence. And of course, we’d all like to know: What’s the progress? And how has COVID-19 impacted this research?
34 minutes | May 28, 2020
The Underlying Biology of Drug Resistance with Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty
Advances in cancer therapy have dramatically contributed to the decline in breast cancer deaths over the last three decades. But even with these advances, drug resistance—when tumors stop responding to anti-cancer drugs—remains a serious clinical challenge. Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty talks about the strategies to prevent cancer cells from evading the drugs designed to kill them. Dr. Chandarlapaty is a laboratory head at the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He's also a BCRF Scientific Advisory Board member and has been a BCRF researcher since 2015.
42 minutes | Apr 28, 2020
A Cross-disciplinary Approach to Breast Cancer Research with Dr. Antonio Wolff
In the fight to understand and solve breast cancer, “it takes a village.” In this case, the village is more like a globally connected series of research labs, scientists, patients, funders and more. In other words, something that looks a lot like the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC). The TBCRC is a collaborative group founded in 2005 to conduct innovative and high-impact clinical trials for breast cancer led by Dr. Antonio Wolff. Dr. Wolff, a BCRF investigator since 2007, is the Chief Operating Officer for the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC).
22 minutes | Mar 24, 2020
Breast Cancer Care and COVID-19: From the Frontlines with Dr. Judy Garber
Breast cancer—and any cancer—can be incredibly stressful under the best of circumstances for patients, survivors, and their families. In this time of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), concerns can feel like they’re rising exponentially. So, what do we all need to know? With tons of new information bombarding us at once, what should cancer patients and families consider? Are there practical tactics or is there tangible guidance to stay safe? In this special episode of Investigating Breast Cancer, we talk to Dr. Judy Garber for the answers. Dr. Garber is BCRF’s scientific director and chief of the Division of Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
29 minutes | Feb 28, 2020
Developing Personalized Risk Prediction with Dr. Mark Robson
Dr. Mark Robson talks about how he’s working to help identify the right tests for the right person at the right age How can researchers provide more precise risk estimates so that individuals with inherited risks can make informed decisions about their health, so that the right women are getting the right tests at the right age? Dr. Robson is conducting studies that employ advanced technologies that incorporate information from genetic tests to enhance the precision of genetic risk assessment in women with mutations in the BRCA gene.
30 minutes | Jan 17, 2020
Unraveling Metastatic Breast Cancer, with Dr. Martine Piccart
Dr. Martine Piccart talks to us about the power of collaboration in metastatic breast cancer research Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells from the breast to other sites in the body, is responsible for nearly all breast cancer deaths. Approximately 150,000 men and women are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer each year. Today, BCRF is the largest private funder of this critical area of research. Dr. Martine Piccart is passionate about metastasis research and the vital role that international collaboration plays in her work. A BCRF investigator since 2004, Dr. Piccart’s research aims to better understand the origins of metastatic breast cancer and how it evolves. Through the Breast International Group (BIG), she oversees the AURORA-EU study, the Belgium-based arm of the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund for Metastatic Breast Cancer Research. Named for BCRF’s founder, the Founder’s Fund is a multi-year, international collaboration. In 2019, AURORA-EU presented findings on the molecular differences between metastatic cells and other tumor cells, revealing a new avenue of research including the potential for targeted treatments. Dr. Piccart is Professor of Oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Director of Medicine at the Institut Jules Bordet. She is also the co-founder and chair of BIG, which unites 55 academic research groups from around the world, running over 30 trials, and developing numerous research programs.
42 minutes | Dec 20, 2019
Young women and breast cancer, with Dr. Ann Partridge
For young women, a breast cancer diagnosis presents a unique set of challenges not only due to age, but the biology of the disease as well. While a diagnosis under the age of 40 is rare, the disease tends to behave more aggressively. Compared to older breast cancer patients, young women treated for the disease tend to have an increased risk of experiencing emotional distress, treatment-induced sexual dysfunction, and concerns about future pregnancies. This is where Dr. Ann Partridge steps in. Her BCRF-supported research seeks to understand the complex issues young women with breast cancer face. Dr. Partridge studies the biology behind their breast cancers as well as focusing on how young women make their way through their experiences – whether it’s physical or emotional. A BCRF researcher since 2016, Dr. Partridge is co-founder and director of the Young and Strong Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer, and serves as the Director of the Adult Survivorship Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Partridge is Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School.
72 minutes | Dec 2, 2019
BCRF Symposium & Awards Luncheon: Live from New York City
Every October, BCRF-funded researchers are honored at the annual Symposium & Awards Luncheon in New York City. This is when BCRF makes its formal announcement of research grants for the upcoming year and recognizes its investigators for their devotion to ending breast cancer with their trailblazing scientific inquiry. The event provides a unique opportunity for BCRF researchers to convene, share ideas and collaborate with fellow colleagues from around the world. This year’s program began with a symposium featuring an expert panel of BCRF investigators. They discussed current breaking topics in breast cancer research, ranging from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and survivorship. We’re proud to share that discussion here in this special bonus podcast.
29 minutes | Oct 11, 2019
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 2017, this cause hits close to home. Both her mother and grandmother died of metastatic breast cancer. That’s why she has dedicated her career to better understanding brain metastasis. As the Director of the Central Nervous System Metastasis Program & Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms driving metastatic disease to the brain. She is currently conducting studies to characterize the genetic and molecular profiles of brain metastasis compared to primary breast cancer with the goal of identifying potential targets for therapy and strategies to improve response to existing therapies.
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