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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Monica Bertagnolli, MD

Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
Professor of Surgery
President, Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Current Research

BCRF has provided critical support for the molecular analysis on tumor specimens from clinical trials. These efforts are essential for the development of biomarkers that can predict risk of recurrence, as well as the identification of new treatment for drug-resistant tumors. Dr. Bertagnolli serves as Group Chair of the National Cancer Institute-designated Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, which activated the ALTernate approaches for clinical stage II or III Estrogen Receptor positive breast cancer NeoAdjuvant TrEatment (ALTERNATE) trial in postmenopausal women. The trial combines the use of anti-estrogen therapy prior to surgery with biomarker measurements to identify those tumors most sensitive to the endocrine treatment. The goal is to be able to develop a drug-response score that can be used to predict which tumors can forego subsequent chemotherapy. Biomarkers will be measured to generate a score that reflects the rate of tumor growth, tumor size, and lymph node involvement. Results from the study will help to identify which patients can avoid chemotherapy following anti-estrogen treatment, reducing unnecessary toxicities and improving quality of life.


Dr. Bertagnolli is a Professor of Surgery at Harvard University Medical School, and an Associate Surgeon at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital . She is presently the Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. She is also a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at DF/BWCC, where she collaborates with colleagues in medical oncology, radiation oncology, and pathology to treat cancer patients in a tertiary care setting.

Dr. Bertagnolli maintains an active research laboratory focused on understanding the role of the inflammatory response in epithelial tumor formation. In 1999, she extended her basic laboratory observations to the clinical trials setting as the lead Principal Investigator of the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib Trial. This pivotal study, reported in 2006, demonstrated dramatic suppression of colorectal adenomas with selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition, but also uncovered unanticipated cardiovascular toxicity with these agents. Dr. Bertagnolli was an organizing member of gastrointestinal correlative science initiatives within the NCI-funded Cancer Cooperative Groups, where she facilitated integration of tumor-specific molecular markers of treatment outcome into nation-wide clinical cancer treatment protocols. She has had numerous leadership roles in multi-institutional cancer clinical research consortia, and from 2010-2011 served as Group Chair of Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB). Dr. Bertagnolli was elected in July 2011 to lead the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a new NCI-funded cooperative group formed by merger of CALGB, the North Central Cancer Treatment Group, and the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group.