Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs
Professor of Radiation Oncology
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Clinical trials have shown a significant reduction in the risk of local recurrence of breast cancer by the addition of radiation therapy (RT) following both breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy. However, RT treatment may also increase the risk of cardiac events due to exposure of the heart to radiation. While this risk has reassuringly been reduced by minimizing the radiation dose to the heart, every effort must be made to continue to reduce cardiac exposure to RT. The focus of Dr. Pierce’s BCRF research is in finding ways to optimize the benefit of RT while minimizing cardiac toxicity. In the coming year, she will use cardiac MRI scans combined with assessment of blood-based markers of heart health to understand the impact of low-dose RT exposure on the heart. She and her team will leverage data from an existing multi-institutional RT quality program to provide important information regarding cardiac radiation exposures for a variety of radiation techniques and to suggest preferred methods of RT delivery.
Dr. Pierce completed residency in Radiation Oncology at Pennsylvania and was a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She joined the Department of Radiation Oncology at Michigan in 1992, where she is currently Professor of Radiation Oncology and Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs.
She has published more than 100 papers and book chapters on aspects of radiotherapy (RT) in the treatment of breast cancer, and her work has been funded by the NCI, Department of Defense Funds for Breast Cancer Research, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Komen for the Cure, BCBS of Michigan and private industry.
Her research focuses on the use of RT in the treatment of breast cancer, with emphasis upon contemporary RT treatment planning techniques, the use of RT in the presence of a breast cancer susceptibility gene, and use of radiosensitizing agents.