Associate Professor of Pathology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dr. Richardson’s research focuses on studying DNA repair defects and how they result in cancer. She and her collaborators have found a number of genomic biomarkers termed "genomic scars" that can predict tumor sensitivity to specific types of therapy. BRCA1 is a key gene involved in DNA repair and loss of BRCA1 is associated with increased level of mutations in tumors. One aspect of her BCRF project this year is to determine if having just one bad copy of BRCA1 is enough to induce genetic damage and mutations. Using genetic engineering approaches, she will artificially insert a single BRCA1 mutation in normal breast cells and then study the cells to see if they develop increased numbers of mutations or genomic damage. Her team is also using sequence analysis of normal breast tissue from women who carry a BRCA1 mutation in their germline DNA to see if other mutations are present in ostensibly normal breast tissue from these women. An additional component of this work is to evaluate the interrelationship between tumor-infiltrating immune cells, called lymphocytes, and the level of tumor genomic damage. It is well recognized that the immune system plays an important role in tumor growth and survival. Recent studies have shown that the more lymphocytes present in a tumor, the better the patient's prognosis. Dr. Richardson’s team will study a group of tumors for the levels of lymphocytes seen under a microscope, and use gene sequencing analysis of the same tumors to measure the levels of genomic scars. Collectively, these studies will lead to better risk assessment and better outcomes in breast cancer through more personalized patient care.
Dr. Andrea L. Richardson is an Associate Professor of Pathology and Director of the Pathology Community Practice Division at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she moved in 2015 after more than eight years on the faculty of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston. She maintains an active clinical practice on the breast pathology consultation service. Her research focus is breast cancer genetics and pathobiology. She is actively engaged in translational breast cancer research, frequently with multi-disciplinary teams. Dr. Richardson has extensive experience in tissue-based molecular assays. Her laboratory research has focused on characterizing the molecular aberrations in subtypes of breast cancer important for pathogenesis, tumor progression, and tumor response to therapy.