Professor of Clinical Medicine
Department of Hematology/Oncology
Indiana University School of Medicine
Despite encouraging advances in breast cancer care, approximately 40,000 women in the U.S. still lose their lives to this disease every year. We can split an atom, we can go to the moon, we can communicate with people instantly that are thousands of miles away, but we don’t yet understand why some women are more likely to develop breast cancer than others. But how can we hope to have this capability, until we fully understand the changes that happen in a normal breast throughout a woman’s life? The intricate cellular pathways and switches that regulate the changes in normal breast are the same switches and controls that are altered in the malignant process.
In the coming year, Dr. Storniolo’s BRCF research will focus on gaining a better understanding of the normal breast in order to understand what goes wrong in cancer. She will compare breast tissue from women of average breast cancer risk to that from women of high risk, as well as healthy tissue from women who later developed breast cancer. Ultimately, studies like these will lead to the identification of biomarkers of risk, and will provide clues to the mechanisms responsible for the causes of breast cancer.
Dr. Anna Maria Storniolo is a medical oncologist and Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She earned her medical degree at Stanford and completed her Internal Medicine residency and fellowships in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the University of Rochester.
Prior to coming to Indiana University in September 2000, she was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California-San Diego. She also served in leadership positions at Eli Lilly (1992-2000), where she was responsible for the clinical development of various cancer drugs, most notably Gemzar (gemcitabine).
In addition to treating women breast cancer, Dr. Storniolo is director of the Catherine Peachey Breast Cancer Prevention Program, a comprehensive program providing risk assessment and counseling for women who may be at risk for developing breast cancer.
Her research interests include helping to define the process by which a normal breast cell becomes cancerous. That work has led her to found the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the I.U. Simon Cancer Center, a biorepository of biologic specimens primarily from women who do not have breast cancer. These samples are a source of DNA, RNA and proteins which are invaluable in deciphering the molecular changes leading from normal breast cells to cancer. Elucidating the steps in the malignant process will lead to finding blood markers that could be used to identify women at risk before they actually develop breast cancer, and would also allow the development of medicines that would alter that process and prevent cancer from occurring.