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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Smart Circle/RGS Labs International Award

Area(s) of Focus

Francisco J. Esteva, MD, PhD

Associate Director of Clinical Investigation
Director, Breast Medical Oncology Program
Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
New York University, Langone
New York, New York

Current Research

For decades, the dominant paradigm in human cell biology was that genes (DNA) were transcribed into RNAs, which in turn were translated into proteins (the building blocks of life). However, only 1-2 percent of the RNA that is transcribed in human cells is actually translated into proteins. The non-coding RNAs (RNAs that don’t code for proteins) belong to a large family of nucleic acids that are only just beginning to be understood. MicroRNA are tiny RNA molecules that can be detected in the blood and tissues and may be used in the future as diagnostic and prognostic tests. Another type of non-coding RNA, called long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) was initially considered to be merely genomic “noise”. However, it is now clear that lncRNA plays important roles in the regulation of chromatin, the packaging material for DNA and gene expression (e.g., which genes get turned “on” or “off”). There is still much to be learned about the role of microRNA and lncRNA in breast cancer. Dr. Esteva’s BCRF research will evaluate whether miRNA and lncRNA can be used as biomarkers in the blood and tumor tissue from breast cancer patients and whether they have potential as prognostic tests and therapeutic targets in breast cancer.


Dr. Esteva received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Zaragoza School of Medicine in his native Spain. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Cooper Hospital (Camden, NJ) and a fellowship in medical oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Esteva joined the faculty at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1997 and rose to the rank of Professor. In 2013, Dr. Esteva moved to the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University Langone, where he serves as Associate Director of Clinical Investigation, Director of Breast Medical Oncology, and co-Director of the Breast Cancer Disease Management Group. Dr. Esteva is board certified in medical oncology and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 2010 Dr. Esteva was inducted as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is a co-author in more than 200 publications including peer-reviewed research articles, invited reviews and book chapters.