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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies Brands Award in Memory of Evelyn H. Lauder

Area(s) of Focus

David Rimm, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Pathology
Director, Pathology Tissue Services
Director, Translational Science in Pathology
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut

Current Research

The immune system works to eliminate diseases, including some cancers, but some tumors develop a "cloaking device" which makes the tumor invisible to the immune cells that could attack and destroy it.  Recently, new therapies have been developed that block the cloaking signals by targeting a protein called PD-L1 on the surface of tumor cells, making the tumor “visible” to T-cells, specialized immune cells and potent cancer cell killers. The new approach is based on reprogramming the body’s immune system to enhance the anti-cancer efficiency of T-cells. Over the last year, Dr. Rimm and his colleagues, who include BCRF grantee and Scientific Advisor Lajos Pusztai, have embarked on studies to test a PD-1 targeting approach in breast cancer.  In lung cancer and melanoma, a third or more of the patients receiving this type of immunotherapy have experienced long term benefit, and even cure. In the coming year, Dr. Rimm’s team will continue to explore its potential benefit in breast cancer by measuring PD-1 levels in breast tumors and assessing the immune microenvironment around tumors with the goal of developing specific assays to match patients to the best immune therapies.  These assays will be used to better understand the role of immune therapy in breast cancer, but also as part of planned new trials for immune therapies in breast cancer.  Studies to date have focused on a particularly challenging group of patients with triple negative breast cancer, those who had their therapy before surgery (called neoadjuvant therapy), but the tumor still remained after the therapy. They have also completed work on a new assay for HER2 therapies, which is currently being validated in clinical trials.


Dr. David Rimm is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the Yale University School of Medicine with a secondary appointment in Medicine (Oncology). He completed an MD-PhD at Johns Hopkins University Medical School followed by a Pathology Residency at Yale and a Cytopathology Fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia. His lab group focuses on quantitative pathology using the AQUA® technology invented in his lab with projects related to predicting response to therapy, recurrence or metastasis in breast cancer. He is a member of a number of correlative science committees for multi-institutional breast cancer clinical trials including SWOG, ALLTO, and TEACH. He also serves on the Molecular Oncology committee for the College of American Pathologists. He is an author of over 280 peer-reviewed papers and 8 patents. He has served on advisory boards for Genentech, Novaritis, BMS, Perkin Elmer, Dako, ACD, Avida , OptraScan, Metamark Genetics and Genoptix.