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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

Tory Burch Award
The Westchester Women's Award

Area(s) of Focus

Jose Baselga, MD, PhD

Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer
Member, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program
Physician Attending, Department of Medicine and
Division of Solid Tumor Oncology
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York, New York

Current Research

At least 70 percent of breast cancers are classified as estrogen receptor positive (ER+), meaning that the tumor requires estrogen for growth and survival. Inhibiting estrogen-driven pathways with anti-estrogen drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors can stop the growth of these tumors. However, not all ER+ breast cancers respond to these targeted therapies. Research suggests that the increased activity of a growth pathway called PI3K in ER+ breast cancers may play a role in resistance of these cancers to anti-hormone therapies. Further work by Dr. Baselga’s group showed that inhibition of the PI3K pathway leads to activation of a survival program mediated by ER. Therefore, the ER and PI3K pathways seem to modulate each other; when one pathway is inhibited, the other becomes more active. Given that the inhibition of the PI3K pathway increases ER activity and the dependency on ER and estrogen, the combination of PI3K inhibition and anti-estrogen therapy may work synergistically. Dr. Baselga’s team has shown this to be the case in laboratory models of breast cancer, but more knowledge about the cross-talk between these two pathways is needed in order to predict which tumors are more likely to respond to this combinatorial therapy. Their long-term goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate ER function and contribute to resistance to PI3K inhibitors in patients with ER-positive breast cancers.The researchers believe that ER “co-regulators” are at the basis of this dynamic cross-talk and ultimately dictate the efficacy of the therapy. In the coming year they will study how anti-PI3K therapies affect interactions between ER and its co-regulators to prevent resistance to PI3K inhibitors. Given the availability of drugs targeting both pathways, these findings could rapidly be translated into clinical benefits for a large number of ER-positive breast cancer patients.


Dr. Baselga MD, PhD is the Physician-in-Chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and has also been named as AACR President for 2015-2016. Dr. Baselga received his MD degree from the Universidad Autonoma of Barcelona in 1982. From 1996 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the Medical Oncology Service and Founding Director of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) at the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona. From 2010 to 2012, he was the chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.

Dr. Baselga has received a number of awards including a Young Investigator Award (1992) and a Career Development Award (1994) from ASCO, Elected Member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (2004), AACR-Rosenthal Family Foundation Award (2008), and King James I Award (2008). In October 2014 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine.  He has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles and is the founding editor of Cancer Discovery.

José Baselga  is a researcher and clinician focusing primarily on breast cancer. His laboratory focuses on mechanisms that limit the sensitivity to targeted therapy in solid tumors, in particular to PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors and anti-HER2 agents. He has also been involved in the development of several molecularly targeted agents including trastuzumab (Herceptin®) and lapatinib (Tykerb®).

Latest from Jose Baselga