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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The Hudson's Bay/Lord and Taylor Award

Pamela J. Goodwin, MD, MSc, FRCPC

Professor of Medicine
Director, Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre
Marvelle Koffler Chair in Breast Research
University of Toronto/Mount Sinai Hospital
Toronto, Ontario

Current Research

Dr. Goodwin’s BCRF research is utilizing patient samples from the MA.32 trial. This is a large randomized trial enrolling patients with early stage breast cancer in North America and Europe that is testing whether the commonly used diabetes drug, metformin will prevent breast cancer recurrence. Metformin is a very old drug used in the treatment of adult-onset diabetes.  Over the last decade, there has been a growing body of evidence to suggest that high levels of insulin resulting from diabetes may play a role in the development and recurrence of many cancers including breast cancer.  Metformin acts to inhibit the insulin pathway and its potential use in preventing the recurrence of early stage breast cancer is being explored in the MA.32 study. Dr. Goodwin is particularly interested in  a gene variant (SNP) that has been shown to improve response to metformin in diabetic patients to see if it may also predict which breast cancer patients will benefit most and allow for more personalized use of the drug. She will measure the presence of the SNP in DNA from 3649 participants of MA.32 and correlate that to the effect of metformin and breast cancer recurrence. This work is being conducted in collaboration with BCRF grantee Lois Shepherd of the NCIC Clinical Trials Group in Ontario, Canada. The researchers are also conducting a separate randomized phase III trial on the effect of metformin on recurrence and survival in early stage breast cancer. 

In separate work, Dr. Goodwin is embarking on a research program to understand why some women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer have late recurrences (at times, decades after diagnosis). In this study she and her team are focusing on patient related factors that might be relevant. Potential factors include major surgery, trauma, medication and alternate therapy use, medical illnesses and stress. An initial study will involve assessing these factors in 40 breast cancer patients with late recurrences and 40 without late recurrences. This study will lead to testable hypotheses and data collection tools that can be used in subsequent prospective research.


Pamela Goodwin has been involved in research relating to host factors in breast cancer for over 25 years. Early in her career, she became intrigued with the possibility that patient-related factors, especially obesity, might impact outcomes of women diagnosed with breast cancer. She began a research program that has focused on the role of these factors, including obesity, nutrition, exercise and related factors. She has led studies which investigate the complex interactions between body size, nutrition, exercise and physiologic mediators such as insulin, IGF-I and vitamin D, examining their impact on risk and survival. Dr. Goodwin has expanded this work to investigate the status of long-term breast cancer survivors and the influences of hereditary factors, vitamin D and metformin on outcomes. She currently leads the international Phase III trial (NCIC MA.32) examining the impact on breast cancer outcomes of an insulin lowering drug, metformin, and has an active translational research program examining the interface between host factors and tumor biology in both early and advanced disease.

Dr. Goodwin is Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, with cross appointments in Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and in the School of Graduate Studies. She is a Senior Investigator at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Director of the hospital's Marvelle Koffler Breast Centre and holds the Marvelle Koffler Chair in Breast Research. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, has published over 170 research articles, and is active in the clinical management of breast cancer patients.