Barbara A. Parker, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
2012-2013 BCRF Project
(made possible with generous support from Macy's)
Medical Director, Oncology Services
Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center
University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
In 2012, Dr. Parker's team reported the finding in a prestigious journal of the Public Library of Science that the cancer cells of many patients with breast cancer have a protein called ROR1. This protein ordinarily is used only by embryonic cells during early development prior to birth, and virtually all tissues of healthy adults do not express this protein.
Moreover, Dr. Parker's team found that cancer cells that have ROR1 often have characteristics of patients who have aggressive forms of breast cancer. They also confirmed other reports that the leukemia cells of adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) also express ROR1, which potentially means that there may already be existing therapies to use for treating some aggressive breast cancers. The studies that Dr. Parker's team has planned for 2012-2013 will help determine whether ROR1 can be used as a marker for aggressive breast cancer. They can also help define whether ROR1 can be used as a target for development of new therapies for patients with breast cancer.
Mid-year Progress: Prior studies have shown that patients with breast cancer cells expressing the protein ROR1 often have aggressive disease. During the first half of this grant period, Dr. Parker's team has begun studies to further define whether ROR1 can be used as a marker for aggressive breast cancer. They are also assessing whether ROR1 can be used as a target for development of new therapies for patients with breast cancer.
Dr. Parker is interested in novel therapies for the treatment of breast cancer, the impact of diet on breast cancer outcomes and quality of life issues of breast cancer survivors. She is the principal investigator for the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) clinical trials at UCSD. Dr. Parker is the Medical Director (Principal Investigator, Dr. John Pierce) for the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study of over 3,000 breast cancer survivors. She is also, the principal investigator for ATHENA Breast Health Network at UCSD and a collaborator on the I-SPY2 clinical trial.