You are here

BCRF Grantee Since

2004

Donor Recognition

The J.C. Penney Award

Area(s) of Focus

Powel H. Brown, MD, PhD

John Charles Cain Distinguished Chair
Chair and Professor
Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Current Research

Dr. Brown and his team have investigated whether drugs that block specific cell signaling pathways are useful for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, with a particular interest in identifying new drug targets for the treatment of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. They have previously identified several signaling molecules that are present in high amounts in ER-negative breast cancers that may be potential targets for treatment. One of these proteins that may be particularly important in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the death-associated protein kinase (DAPK). In this project, his group is investigating whether inhibitors of DAPK will block the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells grown in the laboratory, identify factors that cause resistance to anti-DAPK drugs and determine whether DAPK inhibitors will enhance the effect of standard chemotherapies. These studies will provide the foundation to target DAPK for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancers, the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

Bio

Powel Brown is a medical oncologist and physician-scientist specializing in breast cancer treatment and prevention at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he is Chair of the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention. He is conducting studies to identify novel targets for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer, particularly estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. Over the last year, his team conducted a BCRF-funded clinical trial of the kinase inhibitor lapatinib for the treatment of women with DCIS breast cancer. The results from this study will demonstrate whether lapatinib suppresses the growth of DCIS cells, and will be used to plan future DCIS breast cancer clinical trials to prevent the development of invasive breast cancer. Dr. Brown is also conducting preclinical studies of the signaling molecules in breast cancer with a particular focus on identifying the molecular drivers of "triple-negative" breast cancers. His research group has successfully identified several signaling pathways critical for breast cancer growth and development. In his current BCRF project, Dr. Brown is studying the death-associated protein kinase DAPK1, which his team has identified as one of the most highly expressed kinases in ER-negative breast cancer. This research will determine whether DAPK1 inhibitors suppress growth of p53-mutant breast cancer cells, the resistance pathways associated with DAPK1 inhibitors, and the ability of DAPK1 inhibitors to enhance the preventive effects of standard chemotherapeutic strategies. These studies will provide the foundation to target DAPK for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancers, the most aggressive form of breast cancer.