Tan A. Ince, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology
Director, Tumor Stem Cell Division
Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Play for P.I.N.K. Award)
Accurate classification is essential to understand the pathophysiology of a disease entity. Hematopoietic malignancies such as leukemias and lymphomas have been successfully classified principally based on the phenotypic similarity between tumor cells vs. normal blood and bone marrow cells. The use of normal cell types as a point of reference to classify tumors, however, has not been widely emulated in solid tumors, partly due to a more limited understanding of normal epithelial cell differentiation in solid tissues compared to the hematopoietic system. To provide a better definition of the subtypes of epithelial cells comprising the normal breast epithelium, Dr. Ince's team performed a systematic analysis of a large set of breast epithelial markers in normal human breast tissue samples. This work resulted in a significantly more detailed description of normal cell types in normal human breast, revealing many more normal breast cell types than previously appreciated. These researchers then applied the information from this analysis to classify human breast tumors into four major subtypes based on their normal cell counterparts. This novel ontological classification scheme is associated with significant patient survival differences among the four breast cancer subtypes and provides actionable insights for personalized treatment of breast tumors with multi-hormone combinations.
Dr. Ince is an Associate Professor of Pathology and director of Tumor Stem Cell Division at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. After receiving his MD at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Dr. Ince received a PhD degree in Pharmacology from Cornell University. During this work, he identified a novel DNA binding site for the tumor suppressor protein p53 that regulates human multidrug resistance gene (MDR1), which may contribute to chemotherapy resistance in p53 mutated tumors. Following basic science training at Cornell, he continued his clinical training in Anatomic and Surgical Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital and completed a subspecialty fellowship in breast and gynecologic pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Ince received a career development award from National Cancer Institute for advanced research training in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he stayed during 2000-07. While at the Whitehead Institute, Dr. Ince developed a new cell culture nutrient medium that is now widely used to grow human breast and ovary cells in the laboratory. This advancement provided the opportunity to directly compare genetically identical tumors that were created from various distinct normal human breast cell types. This work revealed that tumor cell behavior is strongly influenced by the nature of the normal cell type that serves as the precursor of the tumor cells.