Director, Women's Cancer Research Center
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Breast tumors are comprised of a heterogeneous mixture of cells with unique genetic profiles. Many scientists believe that this “intra-tumor heterogeneity” is responsible for a tumor’s ability to resist therapy or come back after treatment. Dr. Lee’s group has identified unique DNA mutations in breast cancer that are only present in recurrent disease and metastasis. Some of these mutations, such as those in the estrogen receptor, may be therapeutically targeted. In the coming year the researchers will examine these mutations in a large set of paired (from the same patient) primary and metastatic tumors to better understand how often these mutations occur and whether they play a role in metastatic breast cancer. These studies will provide a fundamental understanding as to the role of tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer and will identify new metastasis-specific therapeutic targets.
Dr. Lee is Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, and Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Magee Women’s Research Institute. Dr. Lee received his B.Sc. and PhD in England, and came to San Antonio for his postdoctoral studies. He was subsequently recruited to Baylor College of Medicine and now the University of Pittsburgh.
The goal of Dr. Lee’s laboratory is to translate basic cell and molecular research findings into the understanding and treatment of breast cancer. Dr Lee serves on numerous other national peer-review committees, and is on the Scientific Advisory Council for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.