Program Head, Divisions of Human Biology and Public Health Sciences
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
BCRF has supported several Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) initiatives led by Drs Drs. Julie Gralow and Peggy Porter. One projectis a phase III clinical trial of bisphosphonates as adjuvant therapy for primary breast cancer (S0307). This project is looking at whether bisphosphonates, drugs used to prevent or reduce bone breakdown, can be used to prevent breast cancer recurrence. The study is currently examining the differences in toxicities between various bisphosphonate drugs and will include translational studies using tissues that were collected from all the patients to help predict risk of recurrence.
Drs. Porter and Gralow are co-investigators for the U.S. team of the Male Breast Cancer Study, worldwide effort coordinated by the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), with the help of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), and run under the network of the Breast International Group (BIG) and the North American Breast Cancer Groups (NABCG). Their part of the project is in building a retrospective registry of male breast cancer patients in the U.S. that includes collection of tumor tissue and other biological material. This study will provide important information regarding the biology and natural history of male breast cancer and serve as a starting point for a prospective, international registry of male breast cancer and tissue resources that can be used in future research.
Drs. Porter’s and Gralow’s BCRF projects also include a clinical trial that will help identify women with estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancers that do not need chemotherapy. The trial will use existing recurrence prediction models to determine whether there is a recurrence score cut-point for these patients, above which chemotherapy will be recommended. The goal is to reduce toxicities from unnecessary treatment.
BCRF support has enabled Drs. Porter and Gralow to create a valuable infrastructure for future research, particularly in the collection of tissue from breast cancer patients (men and women) that will be used for decades to come.
Dr. Peggy Porter, a pathologist and researcher, is a member of the Human Biology and Public Health Sciences Divisions at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Professor of Pathology at the University of Washington. As head of the multi-institutional Women’s Cancer Research Program centered at the Hutchinson Center, Dr. Porter leads a dynamic group of basic scientists, epidemiologists, surgeons, oncologists and pathologists dedicated to reducing the incidence and subsequent mortality of breast cancer. Projects, by program members, range from mapping mutations that contribute to cancer risk to evaluating lifestyle factors and potential interventions. Her lab focuses on identifying and understanding the molecular events associated with initiation and progression of breast cancer, particularly the role of abnormal cell cycle control. In collaboration with epidemiologists and basic science researchers at the Hutchinson Center, researchers in the Porter lab identified the loss of cell cycle inhibitor p27 as an important indicator of poor prognosis in breast cancer. With collaborators in Atlanta she found that specific abnormalities in expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins were more common in triple negative breast cancer and in breast tumors of black women. Her lab continues to integrate new technologies and apply them in large-scale studies to identify tumor markers of progression in diverse populations and specific breast cancer subtypes that can be used for detection, prognosis and prediction of response to therapy. Current studies include the determination of breast cancer risk and molecular alterations associated with radiation exposure in Chernobyl and the relationship of ancestry and breast cancer risk in Hispanic women. She obtained her medical degree in 1987 from the University of New Mexico and completed her residency in Pathology at the University of Washington where she was a recipient of the American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Fellowship.