Vered Stearns, MD
Co-Director, Breast Cancer Program
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Professor of Oncology
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board
2013-2014 BCRF Project(s):
(The Estée Lauder Award)
Dr. Stearns will continue to investigate promising interventions for breast cancer prevention using intermediate biomarkers that might predict activity, in blood or in normal breast tissue. Her team’s continued focus is on the use of surrogate biomarker endpoints to assess the activity of agents that decrease breast cancer incidence. There is an urgent need for small studies with intense evaluation of biomarkers that may help select women who are most likely to benefit from an intervention. It is now well-established that not only genetic, but also environmental factors, contribute to breast cancer risk. Over the last year, her group completed enrollment to a study evaluating the role of the bisphosphonate zoledronic acid on markers of breast cancer risk. In the coming year they will enroll up to 40 women to a new study in which they will determine the effectiveness of a new weight loss intervention designated POWER-remote, which was recently published by her team’s collaborators in the New England Journal of Medicine. They will determine biomarkers that predict which overweight or obese women with early breast cancer are most likely to lose weight with this intervention and whether select biomarkers in blood or in normal-appearing breast tissue can help to identify the women most likely to benefit.
Dr. Stearns and her team continue to investigate promising interventions for breast cancer prevention using intermediate biomarkers in blood or in normal breast tissue that might predict activity. In the last funding period they completed enrollment to a study evaluating the role of the bisphosphonate, zoledronic acid on markers of breast cancer risk. The last patient assessment is expected late January 2014 and the researchers have initiated study analyses, with plans to submit an abstract for the 2014 ASCO meeting. They have also initiated a new clinical trial evaluating the effects of a remote weight loss intervention (designated POWER-remote) developed at Johns Hopkins on biomarkers of breast cancer risk. To date they have enrolled 14 women into the study and over half of the patients enrolled on the intervention have already met the primary endpoint of >5% weight loss from baseline body weight.
Dr. Stearns completed a BS equivalent at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, in Israel in 1989. After relocating to the United States, she completed her medical school training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she received her MD in 1992. Dr. Stearns completed her Internal Medicine residency at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC in 1995. She subsequently completed a Medical Oncology Fellowship at Georgetown University and the Lombardi Cancer Center when she developed interest in translational breast cancer research. Dr. Stearns joined the faculty at the Lombardi Cancer Center at the Georgetown University in 1999, and at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2001. In 2002, she joined the faculty at the Breast Cancer Research Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. She is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. Stearns's long-term research goal is to improve upon current practices by individualizing therapies for breast cancer. While administering standard chemotherapy in the preoperative setting, she examines molecular markers and functional imaging that may assist in early determination of sensitivity or resistance to treatments. The long-term goal is to add novel agents to standard regimens using surrogate markers as endpoints. The work is supported by the prestigious Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award and by the NCI. Dr. Stearns has also examined surrogate markers that may predict response to treatments that may prevent breast cancer such as tamoxifen and anastrozole.
Dr. Stearns is a member of a large group funded by the NIH/NIGMS to evaluate the role of genetic polymorphism in efficacy and safety to common breast cancer treatments such as tamoxifen. Finally, Dr. Stearns has spent considerable time focusing on improving the quality of life of women who have survived their breast cancer and suffer bothersome hot flashes. Further work focuses on a better understanding of mechanism of action of agents that control hot flashes.