Thomas E. Rohan, MD, PhD
Harold and Muriel Block Chair in Epidemiology and Population Health
Professor and Chairman,
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Estée Lauder Companies Brands Award)
Elucidation of the molecular basis of breast cancer development has the potential not only to lead to further improvements in breast cancer treatment but also to assist with breast cancer prevention. To date, cancer genome studies have largely focused on documenting mutations in primary tumors. However, it is recognized that there is a need to create a mutational atlas of the natural history of cancer, and that to do so, comprehensive genomic analysis of preneoplastic lesions is required. Furthermore, such efforts need to expand beyond the sequencing of DNA changes to encompass changes in gene expression as well. To that end, using benign breast disease (BBD) tissue samples from an epidemiologically well-characterized cohort of women who had a biopsy for BBD, for whom formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast tissue is available, and who are being followed up to determine the occurrence of breast cancer subsequent to the BBD biopsy, Dr. Rohan is evaluating the feasibility of using next generation sequencing of DNA and RNA extracted from the tissue to identify changes related to risk of progression to breast cancer. The data that his team will acquire through this project should lay the additional groundwork needed to proceed to a full-scale study. Dr. Rohan’s ultimate goal is to enhance approaches to the prediction of breast cancer risk and to the clinical management of women at risk. For the Canadian Study of Diet, Lifestyle, and Health, a prospective study that includes ~39,000 women, Dr. Rohan’s team is undertaking analyses of factors related to breast cancer development.
Dr. Thomas Rohan is Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, Associate Director for Population Sciences in the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, and a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors. He is a cancer epidemiologist with extensive experience in the design, conduct, and analysis of studies of genetic/molecular, nutritional, and hormonal factors in the etiology and pathogenesis of breast cancer. He has published widely on these topics, and he has co-edited books on cancer precursors and on cervical cancer. Dr. Rohan also has extensive experience in conducting translational studies that involve multiple investigators and require careful planning and coordination.