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BCRF Grantee Since

2000

Donor Recognition

The J.C. Penney Award

Area(s) of Focus

Mien-Chie Hung, PhD

Vice President for Basic Research
Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
Associate Director, Basic Science Programs, Cancer Center Support Grant
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Current Research

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a protein that controls many tumor-promoting processes.  It is over-activated in multiple cancer types including breast cancer, particularly triple negative breast cancers (TNBC), which lack hormone receptors and the HER2 protein and have a worse outcome than other breast cancer subtypes.  There are currently no targeted therapies for TNBC and, while many TNBC patients initially respond to conventional chemotherapy, the disease frequently recurs and spreads.

Anti- EGFR drugs have been approved for the treatment of some types of cancers. While these drugs have not been effective against breast cancer in clinical trials, some patients do respond. Thus, it is extremely important to be able to identify which patients with EGFR-overexpressing breast cancer will respond to anti-EGFR drugs. Drs. Hung  and Hortobagyi previously identified a modification of the EGFR gene, called DNA methylation that may explain why some breast cancers with high EGFR are resistant to targeted drugs. In the coming year, they will further explore the role of EGFR methylation in drug resistance in TNBC and study ways to reverse that resistance. In the process, they will work to identify biomarkers that can be used to predict which TNBC patients will respond to EGFR targeted therapy so that they may benefit from existing drugs.

Bio

Mien-Chie Hung, PhD is the Vice President for Basic Research, and Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Hung is a basic scientist with a translational vision. Dr. Hung is a Program Leader for MDACC CCSG "Cell Biology and Signal Transduction" program. Since 2008, he has been Director of Center for Biological Pathways at MDACC to coordinate biological pathway studies in cancers through entire institution. Dr. Hung is internationally recognized for his work on signaling transduction pathways of tyrosine kinase growth factor receptors and targeted therapies for breast cancer. His group made a critical breakthrough in showing that the transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor EGFR can translocate into the nucleus from the cell surface to stimulate cell proliferation and to induce resistance to anti-cancer therapy. This paradigm-shift concept revolutionizes cell biology of receptor tyrosine kinase and paves a novel avenue for designing next generation of anti-cancer therapy. He has published nearly 400 peer-reviewed papers. Dr. Hung was inducted as an Academician of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (2002) and a Member of the University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education (2006). In addition, he is a Member of the Scientific Advisory Council, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010), as well as recipient of Presidential Award of Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America and The University of Texas MDACC LeMaistre Outstanding Achievement Award (2011).

Co-Investigators