Robert Benezra, PhD
Member, Department of Cell Biology and Biology
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Play for P.I.N.K. Award)
Dr. Benezra has previously shown that neutrophils (a type of white blood cell involved in innate immunity) exhibit anti-metastatic properties when stimulated by the primary tumor in laboratory models of breast cancer. Furthermore, his team has shown that neutrophils isolated from human breast cancer patients are capable of killing breast cancer cells. Their recent data has shown that serum levels of three cytokines (cell signaling proteins), IL1A, MCP-1 and TNFα, are associated with the cancer cell killing capacity of neutrophils isolated from human patients. Moreover, stimulation of neutrophils with these cytokines results in cancer cell death in vitro. Further analyses of these signaling proteins and the molecular pathways that they activate may identify a means to stimulate the cancer cell killing capacity of neutrophils in breast cancer patients, and ultimately lead to a decrease in the incidence of metastatic progression.
Robert Benezra, PhD, is a Member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer (MSKCC) in the Department of Cell Biology and a Professor of Biology at Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City. Before he joined MSKCC, Benezra worked at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle where he identified the Id proteins as dominant negative regulators of the helix-loop-helix protein family, and has since gone on to identify these proteins as key regulators of tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis.
In addition, while at MSKCC, Benezra and his colleagues identified the first human mitotic checkpoint gene, hsMad2, and demonstrated that its de-regulation leads to chromosome instability, tumor progression and drug resistance. His program continues to focus on the molecular basis of tumor angiogenesis, tumor instability and metastasis and is currently developing molecular and cellular tools to inhibit these processes in patients.