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BCRF Grantee Since

2003

Donor Recognition

The Susan Hertog Award

Area(s) of Focus

Charles M. Perou, PhD

May Goldman Shaw Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology Research
Professor of Genetics & Pathology
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Current Research

The work of Dr. Perou’s group has shown that breast cancer is not a single disease, but instead, represents a series of diseases that includes the more favorable prognosis Luminal A subtype and more aggressive subtypes: Luminal B, HER2-enriched, basal-like and Claudin-low. Dr. Perou and his colleagues are focused on identifying the genetic alterations that give rise to the most aggressive types of breast cancer, and using this information to identify new therapeutic strategies to target these cancer causing events. In the coming year they will focus on the role of the microenvironment in breast cancer, particularly the interactions between tumor cells and immune cells, and how this influences the outcomes in patients with HER2-enriched and basal-like breast cancers. Their research findings suggest that cancer stem cells, the cells that are believed to initiate cancer and are required for its progression and spread to other tissues (a process called metastasis), exist within some of these disease subtypes, especially basal-like and Claudin-low breast cancers. They plan to further investigate the role that cancer stem cells play in basal-like tumors and response to chemotherapy. Their research includes the use of experimental models of breast cancer, patient samples, and multiple genomic methods to identify novel genomic signatures to build better predictors of patient outcomes and response to therapy.

Bio

Dr. Perou is a member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC, and the Scientific Director of the UNC Bioinformatics Core. He received his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the Department of Pathology at the University of Utah (1996) where he cloned the human Chediak-Higashi Syndrome gene. He next performed his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of David Botstein at Stanford University (1997-2000) where he began his genomic studies of human tumors using DNA microarrays. These genomic analyses resulted in the identification of novel subtypes of human breast tumors that predict patient survival times and response to therapy. Dr. Perou's laboratory at UNC is focused on using genomics, genetics, and laboratory models to decipher the underlying biology of the molecular subtypes of breast cancer. He then uses this biological information to develop novel therapeutic strategies that are specifically targeted against each of these distinct subtypes of breast cancer.

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