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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, Canada

Current Research

Dr. Goodwin is conducting two studies aimed at understanding the impact of obesity on breast cancer risk.  Obesity is associated with poor breast cancer outcomes. There are several possible explanations for this – it may be due to higher levels of estrogen in heavier women, changes in metabolic factors (such as insulin) or greater inflammation in the presence of obesity. Dr. Goodwin is studying whether circulating levels of estrogens, insulin and inflammatory markers are related to obesity and whether the rate of tumor growth differs according to levels of obesity in women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Her goal is to identify the factors that most strongly associate with tumor progression that can then be studied in the NCIC MA.32 clinical trial of metformin for prevention of breast cancer recurrence,  conducted in collaboration with Lois Shepherd. In this trial, Drs. Goodwin and Shepherd are testing the effectiveness of the anti-diabetic drug, metformin, on preventing breast cancer recurrence. Early analyses have confirmed beneficial effects of metformin on metabolism, and the investigators continue to explore a range of obesity-associated factors that may mediate adverse outcomes in breast cancer.

In her second study, Dr. Goodwin will focus on whether obesity-related factors are associated with higher levels of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in women with metastatic breast cancer.Circulating tumor cells are cells that have become dislodged from the original tumor and entered the circulation. The presence of CTCs has been associated with poor response to treatment and disease progression. Studies on the association of patient-related factors and CTCs are lacking but could provide valuable information and opportunities for intervention. Results from this study could lay the basis for exploration of whether improving obesity-associated metabolic abnormalities will reduce CTCs, and potentially improve breast cancer outcomes. 


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.