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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Darby Stott Award

Area(s) of Focus

Alan D'Andrea , MD

Alvan T. and Viola D. Fuller American Cancer Society Professor of Radiation Oncology
Scientific Director, Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, DFCI
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Current Research

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by an absence of the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and the HER2 receptor. It is an especially aggressive form of breast cancer and highly prone to metastasis (spreading to distant tissues). The focus of Dr. D’Andrea’s BCRF research is to test novel combinations of targeted drugs for the treatment of TNBC. His work includes the use of tumor cell lines derived from women with TNBC and innovative laboratory models derived from patient tumors. They have identified molecular biomarkers that allow them to rapidly determine whether or not the laboratory-grown tumors respond to the drug combinations and are systematically evaluating various drug combinations for their ability to kill the TNBC tumor cells. They will sequence the DNA in these tumor lines (a technique called whole exome sequencing) to identify specific mutations that may predict how well a tumor will respond to a specific therapy. The goal of this research project is to generate a sufficient amount of laboratory data to support a clinical trial for TNBC patients.


Fifteen years ago, Alan D’Andrea began to study the molecular pathogenesis of Fanconi Anemia (FA), a human genetic disease characterized by bone marrow failure, cancer susceptibility, and cellular hypersensitivity to DNA crosslinking agents. Dr. D’Andrea’s laboratory contributed significantly to the elucidation of a new DNA repair pathway, the FA pathway, and demonstrated that one of the FA genes (FANCD1) is identical to the breast cancer gene, BRCA2. Biomarkers from this pathway are useful in predicting the chemotherapy and radiation sensitivity of breast, gastrointestinal, ovarian, and lung tumors.

Dr. D’Andrea is internationally known for his research in the area of DNA damage and DNA repair. He is currently the Fuller-American Cancer Society Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School and the Director of the Center for DNA Damage and Repair at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A recipient of numerous academic awards, Dr. D’Andrea is a Distinguished Clinical Investigator of the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the recipient of the 2001 E. Mead Johnson Award, the highest award in Pediatric Research, and the 2012 G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. He is also a member of the National Cancer Institute's Board of Scientific Counselors in Basic Sciences.