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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Housewares Charity Foundation Award

Area(s) of Focus

Clodia Osipo, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
Member, Breast Cancer Basic Science Program
Member, Cancer Immunology Research Program
Loyola University
Chicago, Illinois

Current Research

Breast cancer is a mixture of subtypes defined by tumor biomarkers: hormone receptor-positive (HR), HER2-positive or triple negative (lacking hormone receptors and HER2). HR-positive subtypes are treated with endocrine therapy, such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. However, resistance to endocrine therapy remains a major clinical concern as these tumors continue to grow and are more likely to spread to other organs (metastasize). Drs. Albain and Osipo have been studying the role of the Notch signaling pathway in breast cancer for more than a decade and have shown that Notch is responsible for resistance to endocrine and anti-HER2 therapy. In women with ER+ disease, a 10-day pre-surgical treatment with GSI, a drug that blocks Notch signaling, plus endocrine therapy, caused changes in the levels of 18 important genes, including genes that regulate stem cell survival, a key function of the Notch signaling pathway. This discovery creates a “gene signature” to predict breast cancer stem cell survival, resistance and response to anti-Notch therapy. In the coming year, Drs. Albain and Osipo will determine if a new, more potent GSI is even more effective in shutting down breast cancer stem cells and tumor growth. The investigators believe results from their laboratory studies will provide the rationale for a larger clinical trial and may provide a new treatment option that combines GSI with anti-hormonal therapy, anti-HER2 therapy, and/or chemotherapy (in triple negative disease) to reduce drug resistance and improve outcomes


Dr. Clodia Osipo received her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry from Loyola University in 2002 while working under Dr. Allen Frankfater. Thereafter, she did her post-doctoral fellowship at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Dr. V. Craig Jordan, the principal developer of adjuvant tamoxifen therapy for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, was her mentor. Dr. Osipo's research under Dr. Jordan focused on investigating the role of HER2/neu, the second member of the epidermal growth factor receptor family, in breast tumors that had acquired resistance to tamoxifen in vivo. Dr. Osipo has published numerous articles, reviews, and book chapters on tamoxifen and other selective estrogen receptor modulators and downregulators. She joined Loyola University Chicago as an Assistant Professor in 2005. She is currently an Associate Professor of Pathology with tenure and the co-leader of the breast cancer program with Dr. Kathy Albain, MD. Dr. Osipo's research focuses on elucidating the role of Notch signaling in resistance to anti-estrogen and HER2-targeted therapies in breast cancer.