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BCRF Grantee Since


James M. Ford, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Pediatrics and Genetics
Director, Stanford Program for Clinical Cancer Genetics
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, California

Current Research

Currently available gene panel tests for assessing the genetic risk of breast cancer are uninformative for most patients, even those with strong family histories. Emerging technologies allow inexpensive sequencing of multiple genes, but we do not know whether these tests will improve patient care. Using over 400  blood samples from high risk patients, Dr. Ford and his team applied a high-throughput, multi-gene sequencing technology to identify risk-associated gene variants in many breast cancer-related genes. Combining extensive clinical, demographic and epidemiologic data with results of multi-gene panel screening tests, they identified a number of clinically relevant gene mutations associated with breast cancer risk (other than BCRA1 or BRCA2) in patients with a strong personal or family history, providing the opportunity for preventive intervention. In the coming year, Dr. Ford will extend this approach to a population-based registry of breast cancer patients and healthy individuals to determine the prevalence of these genetic changes and how they affect cancer risk. The results of this study have strong potential to guide the clinical use of emerging genetic tests to better inform patients on risk and preventive strategies.


Dr. Ford is a medical oncologist and geneticist at Stanford, devoted to studying the genetic basis of breast cancer development, treatment and prevention. He graduated from Yale where he received his MD in 1989. He trained clinically in Medicine and Oncology at Stanford followed by a research fellowship in Biological Sciences, and has been on the faculty at Stanford since 1998, currently as an Associate Professor of Medicine (Oncology), Pediatrics (Medical Genetics) and Genetics, and Director, Stanford Program for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Genomics.

Dr. Ford's goals are to understand the role of genetic changes in cancer genes in the risk and development of common cancers. He discovered that the p53 and BRCA1 tumor suppressor genes regulate DNA repair. He is using techniques for high-throughput genomic analyses of cancer to identify molecular signatures for targeted therapies, and whole-genome next-generation DNA sequencing to identify novel germline cancer susceptibility genes.

Dr. Ford's honors and awards include the Etta S. Chidsey Award in Cancer Research from Yale, NIH K08 Clinical Investigator Award, Second Annual Gerald B. Grindey Memorial Young Investigator Award - AACR, Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research Scholar Award, Doris Duke Foundation Clinical Scientist Award in Cancer Etiology and Pathogenesis, Burroughs-Wellcome Fund New Investigator Award in Toxicology, and the V Foundation Translational Research Award. Dr. Ford is an Editor for the journal PLoS Genetics, is on the Scientific Review Committee for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, and former Council President of the California Breast Cancer Research Program. 

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