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BCRF Grantee Since

2011

Donor Recognition

The J.C. Penney Award

Area(s) of Focus

Gerburg Wulf , MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Attending Physician, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast cancer that lacks the estrogen/progesterone receptors and the HER2 protein. While TNBC is less common than estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer, it is a particularly aggressive form of the disease, for which there are no targeted therapies. Dr. Wulf is working closely with other BCRF grantees in the development and testing of new drug combinations that may improve outcomes in TNBC. This includes genomic analyses of biopsies and specimens obtained from an ongoing Phase I clinical testing a new targeted therapy in patients with triple negative breast cancer or advanced ovarian cancer (led by BCRF grantee, Dr. Ursula Matulonis) as well as testing novel combinations in laboratory models of TNBC, in collaboration with BCRF colleague, Dr. Lewis Cantley. The clinical trial is on track with accrual likely to conclude in 2014, and correlative studies are in progress.

In their laboratory studies, Drs. Wulf and Cantley have identified alternative pathways that become activated after treatment with anti-PI3k and PARP therapies, two new classes of targeted drugs that are being evaluated in clinical trials of TNBC and BRCA1-associated breast cancers. They are studying gene expression data to pinpoint mechanisms that may be causing the cells to become resistant to these therapies.  In the coming year, Dr. Wulf will continue her collaboration Dr. Cantley to study tumor metabolism and specifically to explore how targeted drug inhibitors of the well-known PI3K pathway interfere with the making of nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA and with the metabolism of sugars, a vital energy source for cancer cells. Collective, Dr. Wulf’s studies in concert with her BCRF colleagues may identify new combination approaches that will improve response to targeted therapies for aggressive breast cancers.

Bio

Dr. Gerburg Wulf is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Attending Physician in the Breast Oncology Group at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center (DFHCC).  She received her medical school and graduate training in Germany where she studied in Muenster and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry in Munich. After a residency at the University in Heidelberg she came to the US in 1991 for a post-doctoral research fellowship in Hematology at Beth Israel Hospital. She received further post-graduate training at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (Internal Medicine) and at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (clinical Hematology/Oncology), as well as a second post-doctoral fellowship in Cancer Cell Biology with Dr. Kun Ping Lu. Her current professional work is a combination of clinical practice and laboratory-based research. As a board-certified oncologist, Dr. Wulf serves breast cancer patients from the greater Boston area in the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Clinic at BIDMC.  She is an active clinical scientist and an NCI, ECOG and DFHCC investigator. Her focus is laboratory-based research where she is interested in novel treatment concepts for endocrine-resistant breast cancer.  She is collaborating closely with Dr. Lewis Cantley, Director of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical School in New York, to develop and test in preclinical models novel combination treatments that include the use of a PI3Kinase inhibitors.