Mark Pegram, MD
Director, Breast Cancer Program, Stanford Cancer Institute
Director, Molecular Therapeutics Program Stanford Cancer Institute
Susy Yuan-Huey Hung Professor
Stanford University School of Medicine
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Celebrity Cruises Award)
Co-Investigator: James M. Ford, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
Sporadic triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) share many pathologic and molecular features with breast cancers due to hereditary BRCA1 gene mutations, including sensitivity to platinum chemotherapy drugs. Several clinical trials have tested cisplatin or carboplatin as pre-operative therapy for surgically resectable TNBCs. Not all patients respond to this regimen, and predictive molecular signatures are needed to better select patients for this approach to therapy. Drs. Ford and Pegram have independently collected patient tumor samples from clinical trials of pre-operative platinum based chemotherapy. They will now collaborate to measure expression of all genes in these samples and attempt to identify profiles that best predict for chemosensitivity. Ultimately, they hope to use such a predictive gene expression signature to prospectively select patients most likely to benefit from platinum based therapies, as well as others that target DNA repair pathways, such as PARP inhibitors.
Dr. Mark D. Pegram is the first director of the Breast Cancer Oncology Program at Stanford Women’s Cancer Center. He is also the co-director of Stanford’s Molecular Therapeutics Program. He is a renowned clinician and scholar in breast cancer research and a leader in translational medicine. Dr. Pegram played a major role in developing the drug Herceptin as a treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer, which constitutes about 20 percent of all cases. His laboratory experiments demonstrated that combining Herceptin with chemotherapy effectively killed cancer cells that overproduced the growth factor HER2. Dr. Pegram and others then conducted clinical trials showing that Herceptin improved survival rates and even cured some breast cancer patients. This remains one of the premier examples of bench-to-bedside translational research. Dr. Pegram’s current research efforts include a continued focus on the cancer-associated gene that encodes HER2 and developing new ways to target cancer cells expressing this protein. He is also pursuing strategies to target estrogen receptors, implicated in some 70 percent of all breast cancer cases.
Dr. Pegram earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of North Carolina before joining the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles. He spent five years at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where he was a Sylvester Chair professor of medicine in the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute and associate director for clinical research in the University’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. He joined the Stanford faculty in 2012.