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Einstein researchers receive grants totaling $700,000 for innovative breast cancer research

(BRONX, NY) -- Three researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have been awarded grants from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Drs. Thomas Rohan, Susan Horwitz and Rachel Hazan each received grants from the BCRF in its ongoing effort to support the advancement of breast cancer research. At the heart of the BCRFs generosity is its mission, which is to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and genetic research at leading medical centers worldwide, while also increasing public awareness about good breast health.

Dr. Rohan, professor and chair of epidemiology and population health at Einstein, received $250,000 to carry out gene expression profilingusing so-called gene chipson women at risk of developing breast cancer. Using a technique that he and colleagues developed for extracting and storing RNA from breast tissue, Dr. Rohan will focus his efforts on women with benign breast disease (BDD), since women with this condition have an increased risk for breast cancer. For those BDD patients who eventually develop breast cancer, gene-expression profiles may help to predict clinical outcomes and identify those patients most likely to respond to therapy. Dr. Rohan and his colleagues have already established a multi-center cohort of more than 25,000 women who have undergone biopsies for BDD, and these breast tissue samples will be used in the study.

Dr. Horwitz, Falkenstein Professor of Cancer Research and co-chair of molecular pharmacology at Einstein, received $225,000 to study epigenetic changes (i.e., switching genes on and off in ways that dont involve changes in DNA sequence) in breast cancer cells that may help pinpoint why some breast tumors become drug-resistant. In particular, she will study whether epigenetic mechanisms cause cells to become resistant to Taxol, a drug she helped discover that has proven highly effective in treating breast cancer. Her work could lead to new drugs that reverse drug resistance and make breast tumors more sensitive to Taxol.

Dr. Hazan, associate professor of pathology at Einstein, received $225,000 to support her research effort to eradicate mestastasizing tumor cells. She will collaborate with Dr. Larry Norton of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to determine the mechanism of action of the protein N-cadherin, which is produced by aggressive breast tumors and stimulates the spread of those tumors. The team will also look for potential drugs that can target this protein, with the ultimate aim of expanding the available options for treating late-stage breast cancer.


Contact: Karen Gardner
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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