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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Cynthia Lufkin Award

Clifford Hudis, MD

Chief, Breast Medicine Service
Vice President for Government Relations and Chief Advocacy Officer
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York

Current Research

Obesity is a risk factor for the development of several common malignancies including hormone receptor positive (HR+) breast cancer in postmenopausal women. In collaboration with BCRF grantee Andrew Dannenberg, Drs. Hudis and Iyengar made the pivotal observation that most overweight and obese women, as well as some lean women, have low-grade inflammation of the fat tissue of the breast. This inflammation appears as a dead or dying fat cell surrounded by immune cells called macrophages in an arrangement the scientists named "crown-like structures" (CLS-B) for their crown-like appearance. The scientists have shown that CLS-B cause the release of other pro-inflammatory molecules and an increase in the activity of aromatase. As aromatase is a key protein in estrogen production, this relationship provides a plausible explanation to the paradox of increased estrogen-driven tumors in postmenopausal women whose ovaries are no longer producing estrogen. The overall goal of this BCRF project is to identify individual women at risk for breast cancer or for a poor prognosis after its diagnosis because of inflammation, and to develop effective interventions including diet and/or drugs.  In the past year, the research team has confirmed their earlier findings in a larger group of women and found that women with metastatic breast cancer who also have breast inflammation (CLS-B) have worse clinical outcomes than those without inflammation. In fact, they found that breast inflammation is a common condition in postmenopausal women. Thus, both obesity and the postmenopausal state provide two “hits” that contribute to the increasing incidence of HR+ breast cancer with increasing age. Importantly, they have identified a possible blood biomarker panel that predicts for the presence of inflammation. This is a key effort as it may lead to a simple blood test to predict the risk and prognosis of breast cancer. In the coming year, Drs. Hudis and Iynegar plan to develop this blood test into a clinically feasible tool that can be widely used in the development of interventions to prevent and/or reduce inflammation and thereby reduce breast cancer risk and/or progression. They continue to work closely with Dr. Dannenberg’s group to bring promising discoveries from the laboratory  to human clinical trials.


Clifford Hudis, MD, is the Chief of the Breast Medicine Service and Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City where he is co-Leader of the Breast Disease Management Team and a Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also MSK’s Vice-President for Government Relations and Chief Advocacy Officer. Dr. Hudis is a past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and currently serves as the Chairman of BCRF’s Scientific Advisory Board, co-Chair of the Breast Committee of the Alliance (formerly the CALGB) and a member of the Steering Committee of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC).  In addition, he is a member of the Board of Governors for ASCO's CancerLinQ. This project will use the data generated by practices around the country to improve the quality of care for patients regardless of where they live.  

A 1983 graduate of an accelerated degree program at the Medical College of Pennsylvania (a combined 6 year BA/MD with Lehigh University), Dr. Hudis trained in Internal Medicine in Philadelphia before completing his fellowship in Medical Oncology at MSKCC where he joined the faculty in 1991.

Dr. Hudis’ research has included the development of a wide range of novel drugs and the study of relevant correlative science endpoints in breast cancer. His team developed taxanes, dose-dense adjuvant chemotherapy, and the use of targeted anti-HER2 agents in the advanced and adjuvant settings. They recently identified the utility of targeting the androgen receptor in advanced triple negative breast cancer as well as the safety of several anti-androgens in women. With his collaborators, both at MSKCC and beyond, his personal research has recently been focused on understanding the mechanisms that link diet, obesity, inflammation, and breast cancer risk and outcomes. Building on their discoveries of low grade inflammation in association with overweight and obesity, he and his colleagues are studying interventions that may reduce the risk of breast cancer and its return.