Professor of Clinical Medicine
Medical Director, Oncology Services
Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center
University of California, San Diego
San Diego, California
Some breast cancers have a protein called ROR1, used predominantly by cells during early development prior to birth. ROR1-expressing breast cancers often have characteristics of patients who have aggressive disease. During this past year, Dr. Parker’s group has evaluated ROR1 expression in a variety of breast cancers. Additionally, they have analyzed public databases of breast cancer for associated genomic alterations. They also have conducted experiments on cell lines, evaluating agents that target ROR1 to understand their potential benefit for patients with breast cancer. The progress Dr. Parker’s team has made to date and the proposed studies over the next year will help determine whether ROR1 can be used as a marker for aggressive breast cancer and whether targeting ROR1 may be beneficial for patients.
ROR1 is a receptor expressed commonly on high-grade breast cancer cells and may interact with other cell signaling pathways in the development of metastases. Since October 2013, Dr. Parker’s group has analyzed phospho-proteins from the ISPY1 clinical study of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in high-risk breast cancer patients. They have also initiated experiments looking at human tumors growing in laboratory models for the types of cells associated with ROR1 expression. These studies will improve understanding of the importance of ROR1 as a target for therapy of breast cancer.
Dr. Barbara Parker is involved in the studies of novel personalized therapies for the treatment of breast cancer, the impact of diet and lifestyle on breast cancer outcomes, and the quality of life of breast cancer survivors. She is the principal investigator for the Cancer and Leukemia Group B/Alliance clinical trials at UCSD. Dr. Parker is the Medical Director for the Women's Healthy Eating and Living Study of over 3,000 breast cancer survivors. She is also the principal investigator for ATHENA Breast Health Network at UCSD where she leads efforts in establishing personalized screening and risk assessment for women at the time of mammography. She is a co-investigator on the ISPY2 clinical trial in high risk early stage breast cancer and serves on the ISPY2 New Agent Selection Committee.