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BCRF Grantee Since


Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD

Professor of Oncology, Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program
Associate Director, Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training Program
The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland

Current Research

Recently, there has been great interest in obtaining metastatic biopsies to acquire the mutational profile of a patient’s tumor. The hope is that mutations and other genetic alterations might be found that would lend themselves to newer targeted therapies. However, because breast cancers are inherently genetically unstable, it is now well known that tumor heterogeneity exists within the primary tumor, as well as between different sites of metastasis, all within an individual patient. Thus, assaying a single metastatic site for mutations may miss mutations present in the patient’s body. Moreover, often there is no safe, accessible site for a biopsy. For the past few years Dr. Park’s group has championed and pioneered the use of circulating plasma tumor DNA (ptDNA) as a “liquid biopsy” for breast cancer patients. Because all cells, normal and cancerous, shed DNA into the blood, they can now use and exploit this information to uncover all the mutations in a patient with metastatic disease. In the coming year, Dr. Park and his team will develop new methods to quickly identify mutations using blood as a source of liquid biopsy, and then serially collect blood from patients to determine if liquid biopsies can be used as markers of resistance or sensitivity to various therapies. This work will pave the way for precision medicine which could potentially change the management and treatment of metastatic breast cancer.


Dr. Park is from Saginaw, MI and received his Bachelor’s degree from The University of Chicago in 1989. He then completed a dual MD-PhD training program at The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, graduating in 1995. After completing a residency in Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Training at The Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania, he finished a postdoctoral research fellowship in cancer genetics in the laboratory of Dr. Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins University. In 2002, Dr. Park joined the faculty in the Department of Oncology at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins within the Breast Cancer Research Program. His laboratory research focuses on finding mutated or altered genes that are responsible for breast cancer initiation and progression, as well as genes that are mutated leading to chemo- and hormonal drug resistance.