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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
Chairman, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Current Research

Obesity is a risk factor for the development of several common malignancies including hormone receptor positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. In collaboration with Andrew Dannnenberg, Dr. Hudis’s team made the pivotal observation that most overweight and obese 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 a structure 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, the protein responsible for making estrogen in the breast. They believe that this low-grade chronic inflammation of the breast may provide the necessary estrogen to promote breast cancer growth and therefore explain why postmenopausal women have an increased risk for hormone (estrogen) receptor positive breast cancer even after ovarian estrogen production has stopped. 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. To conduct these studies, Dr. Hudis’s team created a biobank of paired breast tissue and blood specimens from volunteer women and will used this resource to study the relationship between CLS-B, weight and aromatase activity. Importantly, they have also identified a preliminary non-invasive, blood-based signature of breast inflammation that could be used to assess risk with just a simple blood test. This collaborative project may lead to the development of new intervention and prevention strategies.

In a separate collaboration with Heather McArthur and Stephen Solomon, Dr. Hudis and  his colleagues will conduct studies to determine whether an immune-based therapy may be be an viable alternative strategy for treatment of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). While treatment advances over the past two decades have significantly improved outcomes for women with early stage breast cancer, up to one-third will experience a distant recurrence (metastasis). Breast cancer represents a collection of diseases, and different tumors respond differently to conventional treatment strategies. Laboratory studies have shown that freezing tumor tissue, a process called cryoablation, activates critical tumor-specific immune cells. This approach dramatically decreased tumor growth in experimental models when it was combined with targeted immunotherapy. Drs. Hudis, McArthur and Solomon recently completed a small Phase I study in women with early stage breast cancer and found the combination to be well tolerated. Others have reported dramatic responses to combination immunotherapy in metastatic melanoma. Based on these encouraging findings, the Memorial Sloan Kettering research team in collaboration with Jedd Wolchok, will initiate a phase II study to test multiple combinations of immunotherapy in women with hormone receptor-negative, HER2-negative (triple negative) early stage breast cancer. These studies may lead to alternative treatment options for TNBC and advance the use of immunotherapy in breast cancer.


Clifford Hudis, MD, Chairman of BCRF Scientific Advisory Board, is Chief of the Breast Medicine Service and Attending Physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City. He is also a Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and immediate past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

A 1983 graduate of the Medical College of Pennsylvania (a combined 6 year BA/MD program with Lehigh University), Dr. Hudis joined the MSKCC faculty in 1991, where he is also the co-Leader of the Breast Disease Management Team. He serves as co-Chair of the Breast Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (formerly Cancer and Leukemia Group B). In addition, Dr. Hudis is a member of the Steering Committees of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) and the North American Breast Cancer Group (NABCG), and a member of National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Correlative Science Committee.

Dr. Hudis’s research includes the development of a wide range of novel drugs and the study of relevant correlative science endpoints in breast cancer. With his collaborators both at MSKCC and beyond, he has focused his BCRF-supported research 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  they are now studying interventions that may reduce the risk of breast cancer and of its return. In 2007, Dr. Hudis was appointed as Chairman of BCRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee and in 2012 became Chairman of its Scientific Advisory Board.