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BCRF Grantee Since


Hope S. Rugo, MD

Director, Breast Oncology and Clinical Trials
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine
University of California
San Francisco, California

Current Research

Resistance to chemotherapy remains a significant clinical challenge. Dr. Rugo’s laboratory is conducting a variety of studies that collectively aim to identify potential new drugs or combinations of drugs for the treatment of aggressive breast cancers and to identify molecular markers in the blood of cancer patients that can predict the risk of metastasis or drug resistance. Studies are focused on 1) Understanding the interaction of cancer cells and immune cells to find ways to boost the tumor fighting capacity of the immune system; 2) Characterizing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from "liquid biopsies" to identify new therapeutic targets and biomarkers of metastasis; 3) Testing new targeted therapies for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. They are investigating therapeutic approaches to improve anti-tumor immune responses by targeting critical molecules that regulate the immune system. In the coming year Dr. Rugo’s team will conduct combination therapy studies with immune modulatory agents to identify the best combinations for clinical trials. They have begun the complex process of analyzing the genes in circulating tumor cells from liquid biopsies to facilitate the development of novel targeted therapies. Collectively, these studies will enable biomarker development and better combinatorial approaches, all of which represent potential therapies for translation to the clinic.


Hope S. Rugo, MD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of California San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she directs Breast Cancer and Clinical Trial Education. Her research interests include novel therapies for advanced breast cancer, immune modulation to restore chemotherapy sensitivity, evaluation of circulating cells as novel markers of response and resistance to therapy, neoadjuvant therapy and supportive care.

Dr. Rugo is a member of the Breast Oncology Program at the UCSF Breast Cancer Center, an investigator in the national multi-center ISPY2 trial, and is the principal investigator of a number of clinical trials. She is one of three recipients of a Komen Promise Award, receives funding from The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and serves on a number of steering committees for national and international trials. She is a member of the ALLIANCE Breast Core Committee and the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium, is the UCSF representative to the NCCN Guidelines Committee, and serves on several committees for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She has published many peer-reviewed papers and has given presentations on a variety of cancer related topics.

With a summa cum laude degree from Tufts University. Dr. Rugo received her MD from the University of Pennsylvania and completed both a residency in internal medicine and fellowship in hematology and oncology at UCSF, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in immunology at Stanford University. She received the Cancer Care physician-of-the-year award in 2010.