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BCRF Grantee Since


Christine B. Ambrosone, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Cancer Prevention and Control
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Buffalo, New York

Current Research

Co-Investigator: Chi-Chen Hong, PhD, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Drs. Ambrosone and Hong are examining stressful life events and perceived stress in relation to immune factors by using data and samples from a prospective study of breast cancer outcomes, the Women’s Health After Breast Cancer (ABC) study. Analyses for immune markers have been completed, and Drs. Ambrosone and Hong are evaluating them in relation to psychosocial factors and quality-of-life and so far have shown that women with higher levels of Th1 cytokines important for anti-tumor immunity are more likely to have physical and/or mental health that is rated highly, as measured by the SF-36 Health Survey.

In 2013-2014, Drs. Ambrosone and Hong will continue this line of research and expand their examination to include obesity and obesity-related comorbid conditions, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and hypertension, which can potentially impact quality-of-life among breast cancer survivors and are associated with altered immune phenotypes that are similar to those they previously observed to be associated with increased risk of estrogen receptor-negative and triple negative breast cancers, and/or with pro-inflammatory immune phenotypes associated with poorer breast cancer prognosis. This team will also assess the impact of comorbidity management on breast cancer survivors’ quality-of-life, with long-term goals to examine breast cancer outcomes. This is particularly important given emerging evidence that specific medications used to treat common obesity-related comorbidities may have independent associations with improved breast cancer outcomes.

Mid-Year Summary

In this funding period the researchers have established the infrastructure for a follow-up study of women enrolled in the Women’s Circle of Health Study (WCHS) that aims to evaluate among 1,700 African American women diagnosed with incident invasive breast cancer, the impact of obesity and obesity-related comorbidities on breast cancer treatment received and breast cancer outcomes, including quality-of-life, and determine whether optimal management of these conditions impact outcomes. Post-diagnosis blood collections are scheduled to begin in late January 2014 to examine potential mechanistic pathways mediating the impact of obesity and obesity-related comorbidities on breast cancer outcomes. The researchers also advanced their work examining biomarkers associated with psychosocial factors during the survivorship period among early stage breast cancer patients. They showed that women with high circulating 25OHD levels at the time of diagnosis and 1 year post-diagnosis were ~1.5 to 2-fold less likely to report low quality-of-life, high levels of perceived stress, depression, or fatigue compared to women with deficient 25OHD levels. Moreover, when change in circulating 25OHD levels from the time of diagnosis to 1 year post was assessed, women in the highest tertile of change were ~50% less likely to report high levels of fatigue compared to women in the lowest tertile of change. They will extend these findings to examine potential interactions between circulating 25OHD levels and immune factors. Since the last progress report 10 manuscripts citing BCRF support have been published or accepted for publication, and an R01 grant for the WCHS follow-up study was submitted based on BCRF-supported findings and scored in the 11th percentile, placing it in the fundable range.


After positions at the National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, Dr. Christine Ambrosone joined the faculty of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in 2002, where she now serves as Chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Dr. Ambrosone is an internationally recognized leader in molecular epidemiology and is co-founder and past Chairperson of the Molecular Epidemiology Group of the American Association for Cancer Research. She is also active in Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), where she is Co-Chair of the Molecular Epidemiology Committee. Her research focuses primarily on breast cancer, and elucidating relationships among exposures, genetic susceptibility and cancer risk and outcomes. One of her main areas of interest in breast cancer is why African-American women with breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age and to have more aggressive disease characteristics.

Dr. Ambrosone's research also focuses on breast cancer prognosis. Working with SWOG clinicians, Dr. Ambrosone has several ongoing studies targeted at understanding why women with similar disease characteristics and general health status experience different outcomes from chemotherapy, examining the role of inherited differences in metabolism of chemotherapy drugs, as well as modifiable factors, such as vitamin supplements, diet and physical activity. Dr. Ambrosone is Past Senior Editor for Cancer Research and is on the Board of Scientific Advisors to the Director of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Christine Ambrosone, along with colleagues from the University of North Carolina and Boston University, has been awarded a five-year, $19.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to investigate the causes of breast cancer in African-American women. "We are so excited about this work, and BCRF played a LARGE role in getting the preliminary data to begin the study," said Dr. Ambrosone. "We are so grateful for BCRF support!"  Read more.