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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Housewares Charity Foundation Award

Area(s) of Focus

Kathy S. Albain, MD, FACP

Director, Breast Clinical Research Program
Co-Director, Breast Oncology Center
Director, Thoracic Oncology Program
Professor of Medicine, Stritch School of Medicine
Dean’s Scholar
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Current Research

Breast cancer is a mixture of subtypes defined by tumor biomarkers: hormone receptor-positive (ER/PR), HER2-positive or triple negative (lacking ER, PR, HER2). ER-positive subtypes are treated with endocrine therapy, such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. However, resistance to endocrine therapy remains a major clinical concern as these tumors continue to grow and are more likely to spread to other organs (metastasize). Drs. Albain and Osipo have been studying the role of the Notch signaling pathway in breast cancer for more than a decade and have shown that Notch is responsible for resistance to endocrine and anti-HER2 therapy. In women with ER+ disease, a 10-day pre-surgical treatment with GSI, a drug that blocks Notch signaling, plus endocrine therapy caused changes in the levels of 18 important genes, including genes that regulate stem cell survival, a key function of the Notch signaling pathway. This discovery creates a “gene signature” to predict breast cancer stem cell survival, resistance and response to anti-Notch therapy. In the coming year, Drs. Albain and Osipo will determine if a new, more potent GSI is even more effective in shutting down breast cancer stem cells and tumor growth. The investigators believe results from their laboratory studies will provide the rationale for a larger clinical trial and may provide a new treatment option that combines GSI with anti-hormonal therapy, anti-HER2 therapy, and/or chemotherapy (in triple negative disease) to reduce drug resistance and improve outcomes.


Kathy S. Albain is Professor of Medicine (tenured) at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and is a Dean’s Senior Scholar. As a member of the Division of Hematology/Oncology, she devotes her clinical practice to patients with breast and lung cancer at Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. She is Co-leader of the Breast Cancer Program (with Clodia Osipo, PhD), Director of the Breast Clinical Research Program, Co-director of the multidisciplinary Breast Oncology Center, and Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program. Dr. Albain is involved in national research and advisory activities pertaining to breast and lung cancers as well as cancer survivorship and special populations research. She chaired the Committee on Special Populations for SWOG, an NCI cooperative group, from its inception. This committee conducted novel research that addressed gender differences in cancer, survivorship issues, and outcome and treatment of special populations. A lay advocates program was formed under her leadership. Following SWOG reorganization, Dr. Albain served as co-chair of its Cancer Survivorship Committee. She also co-chairs an international breast cancer survivorship collaboration. Dr. Albain is a member of the SWOG working groups for breast and lung cancer. She is a member of the international Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group and Steering Committee. She was a charter member of the NIH Committee on Research on Women’s Health and completed a term on the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC). She has over 170 publications in peer-reviewed journals and major textbooks, and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.