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BCRF Grantee Since

2001

Donor Recognition

The Coach Award

Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH

Director, Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Current Research

Breast cancer that develops in women with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes comprises approximately 5% of all breast cancer and 10% of breast cancer in Ashkenazi Jewish women. Previous data suggest that women with BRCA1 mutations preferentially develop triple negative breast cancer, and a subset of women with triple negative disease without BRCA mutations would also have DNA-repair-deficient triple negative breast cancer.

Also, recent findings have raised the question whether it is more effective to treat breast cancers that develop in women with inherited BRCA1/2 mutations with cisplatin, a chemotherapy agent that does not have an extensive track record in breast cancer, rather than with standard chemotherapy (e.g., doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, “AC”). There is reason to believe that cisplatin might be more effective since it creates breaks in the genetic material of cells, which breast cancers deficient in BRCA proteins cannot repair. Yet, data regarding the responsiveness of the breast cancers in this population to these two chemotherapy regimens is extremely limited. The aim of this project is to compare the relative effectiveness of cisplatin and standard “AC” chemotherapy in women with inherited BRCA mutations and early stage breast cancer. BRCA mutation carriers will be randomized to receive one of these two chemotherapy regimens prior to the excision of their breast cancer; response of the breast cancer to the chemotherapy will be assessed at the time of surgery. This trial, the INFORM: BRCA1/2 trial, will be conducted at Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center (Drs. Nadine Tung, Judy Garber and Stuart Schnitt) in collaboration with several other BCRF-funded investigators at academic medical centers across the US.

Mid-Year Summary

The aim of this project is to compare the relative effectiveness of cisplatin and standard chemotherapy (e.g., doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, “AC”) in women with inherited BRCA mutations and early stage breast cancer. Recent data raised the question whether it is more effective to treat breast cancers in this population with cisplatin, a chemotherapy agent not typically used to treat breast cancer. There is reason to believe that cisplatin might be more effective since it creates breaks in the genetic material of cells, which breast cancers deficient in BRCA proteins cannot repair. This trial is being conducted at Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center (Drs Nadine Tung, Judy Garber and Stuart Schnitt) in collaboration with several other BCRF-funded investigators. In the last six months, an additional ten patients have been enrolled and four additional academic centers have opened the trial (Yale, Cancer Institute of New Jersey, University of Colorado and Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island). Two additional sites should be activated imminently (Cedars Sinai, MD Anderson Cancer Center) with MSKCC and University of Pennsylvania expected to open for accrual in the near future.

Bio

Dr. Garber is the Director of the new Cancer Genetics and Prevention Disease Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She founded the Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic, one of the first devoted to the identification and management of individuals at highest cancer risk. The program formed the basis for the new disease center, and is a major referral center for clinical care and research in inherited cancer risk, clinical trials of cancer preventive interventions and cancer genetic counseling models. To foster the incorporation of cancer genetics into clinical practice, Dr. Garber has played a major role in the development of national guidelines in genetics (American College of Medical Genetics) and medical oncology (American Society of Clinical Oncology and National Comprehensive Cancer Network.) Her research activities have been continuously funded by National Institutes of Health and private foundations and include the study of breast cancer risk assessment and communication, cancer genetics more broadly, and pharmacogenetics. She is also a leader in research into the characteristics and treatment of triple negative or basal-like breast cancer, the most common form in women with BRCA1 mutations. Her translational research focuses on the evaluation of novel agents targeting DNA repair defects in breast cancer, including PARP inhibitors for treatment and prevention of breast cancer and other BRCA-associated cancers.

Dr. Garber is past President of American Association for Cancer Research, the largest organization of cancer researchers in the world. She is a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Counselors and chairs the External Advisory Board of the SPORE in Breast Cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center and is a member or chair of the Data Safety Monitoring Committees of several international breast cancer clinical trials. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Locally, she co-chairs a Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Institutional Review Board panel D, and is a member of the Personalized Cancer Medicine Partnership Steering Committee and the Executive Committee for Clinical Research.

Dr. Garber was inaugurated on April 4, 2011 as President of the American Association for Cancer Research. Read more.

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Co-Investigators