W. Fraser Symmans, MD
Professor of Pathology
2012-2013 BCRF Project:
(made possible by generous support from ULTA Beauty)
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Symmans is investigating methods to predict response and survival from chemotherapy and hormonal therapy (endocrine therapy), alone or combined for
patients with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer. A new approach was successful and has been published in 2011. Now, Dr. Symmans's team is working on
validating these findings in additional patients to confirm the data. They are also working to translate the predictive signatures for use with tissue
samples that have been fixed in formalin and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) for routine processing.
In 2012-13, Dr. Symmans's team will continue the analyses for translation of gene expression profiles to FFPE samples and survival following adjuvant
chemotherapy. They will also evaluate the predictor of response in the breast and regional lymph nodes in a blinded validation study with new samples from
patients who received neoadjuvant FEC-docetaxel chemotherapy for Stage II-III HER2-negative breast cancer.
Mid-year Progress: Dr. Symmans's group is investigating methods to translate the predictive signatures to tissue samples that have been fixed in formalin and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) for routine processing. Through a series of matched comparisons of different technical and sample variables, including whole transcriptome sequencing and two microarray platforms, they have demonstrated feasibility that accurate translation of a gene signature that predicts sensitivity to endocrine therapy will probably be possible using a truncated signature that contains only the most technically robust genes. They are also continuing to profile blinded anonymous samples from patients with known outcomes following FEC-docetaxel chemotherapy to test our predictive algorithm.
Dr. Symmans is Professor of Pathology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where he practices Breast Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology and co-directs the Breast Cancer Pharmacogenomics Program.
Dr. Symmans received his medical degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand in 1987. He completed his residency training in Anatomical Pathology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City and fellowship training in Cytopathology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. Dr. Symmans joined the faculty of New York University Medical Center in 1993 and moved to MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2000.
Dr. Symmans's research is focused on breast cancer, with specific emphasis on neoadjuvant (pre-operative) treatment trials for evaluation of chemosensitivity and development of diagnostic tests to select the most effective treatments for individuals with breast cancer. Dr Symmans has adapted genomic technologies to clinical needle biopsies of breast cancer in order to use gene expression profiling to identify important genes for response to chemotherapy and, independently, to endocrine therapy; to validate gene expression tests with clinical potential; and to establish their performance in the context of clinical testing.