Under the leadership of Howard Federoff, MD, PhD, executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown, GUMC has rapidly moved into systems medicine, which is the application of systems biology to translation medicine with an ultimate goal of preventing or delaying illness, or managing it at the earliest stage possible. Both systems biology and systems medicine involve understanding a combination of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, environmental, that conspire to produce biological disorder.
In this grant, researchers at Lombardi will work with scientists at Virginia Tech and Fox Chase Cancer Center to understand how molecular signals from the estrogen receptor a protein in breast cancer cells that recognizes and binds the estrogen hormone and directs the cell's response to estrogen contribute to development and progression of breast cancer.
"We are so excited about this opportunity," Clarke says. "This is truly a systems approach to understanding a process that is fundamental to most breast cancer cases, and at the end of the day, we want to make things better for women with breast cancer."
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2009, 192,000 women were newly diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and approximately 70 percent of these cases are considered to be estrogen receptor-positive (ER+), implying that estrogen and its receptor drives the disease. Also in 2009, the Society estimated that more than 40,000 women are expected to die from breast cancer which is one breast cancer death on average every 13 minutes.
Most of the gene and proteins regulated by the estrogen receptor are unknown, and the molecular effects of therapies such as anti-hormonal drugs, like tamoxifen, are also largely unidentified, says Clarke. "This gene network ultimately regulates th
|Contact: Karen Mallet|
Georgetown University Medical Center