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BCRF Grantee Since

2013

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 of the Thoracic Oncology Program
Professor of Medicine, Stritch School of Medicine
Dean’s Senior Scholar
Loyola University Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Current Research

The majority of breast cancers are classified as estrogen receptor positive, that is, they make the estrogen receptor (ER+). This type of breast cancer usually responds well to anti-hormonal treatments such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. However, resistance to anti-hormonal drugs 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 found that Notch is very important for the survival of breast cancer stem cells, also sometimes referred to as tumor origination cells as they are believed to be the origins of a tumor and required for tumor progression. The research team has begun testing drugs that inhibit the Notch pathway in combination with tamoxifen in women with ER+ breast cancer and found that the treatment significantly altered many genes important in cancer, which may provide a “gene signature” that could predict breast cancer stem cell survival and identify patients with a high risk of tumor relapse. In the coming year, they will continue their work, focusing in particular on how Notch works to regulate this new panel of genes to cause drug resistance.

Bio

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.

Co-Investigators