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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ULTA Beauty Award

Area(s) of Focus

Richard G. Pestell, MB, BS, PhD, MD, FACP

Director Emeritus
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Current Research

Basal breast cancer includes triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), defined by the absence of three receptors (estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). TNBC is prominent among African-American women and currently no targeted therapies for this type of breast cancer exist. Within human breast cancer, a subset of cells have characteristics of stem cells, or breast tumor initiating cells (BTIC), that may contribute to recurrence and therapeutic resistance. Dr. Pestell’s group has been working to identify a new therapeutic target of BTIC. In recent studies they identified several proteins as potential candidates for targeted therapeutic intervention. One of these is DACH1, a protein that regulates stem cell expansion. In coming year they will continue to explore the role of endogenous DACH1 as a breast cancer suppressor via BTIC and determine the role of secreted factors using novel laboratory models of breast cancer developed in the Pestell laboratory.


Richard G. Pestell, MB, BS, MD, PhD, FACP, FRACP, MBA, is Special Advisor to Innovation, Thomas Jefferson University.  Until 2015, he served as Director, Kimmel Cancer Center; Vice President, Oncology Services; Associate Dean, Cancer Programs, and Chairman, Department of Cancer Biology. Dr. Pestell was born in Perth, Western Australia. He received his MD (MBBS) from the University of Western Australia and his PhD from the University of Melbourne. He undertook postdoctoral and clinical training in Hematology/Oncology and Endocrinology. As the single Australian recipient of the Royal Australian College of Physicians’ Winthrop traveling scholar and Neil Hamilton Fairley Scholar (1991-1994), he continued research at Harvard University and served as clinical fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital. For more than 10 years, Dr. Pestell has served as a Director of NCI-designated cancer centers. Prior to his current position at the Kimmel Cancer Center, Dr. Pestell was Director of the Lombardi Cancer Center, and Associate Vice President of the Medical Center at Georgetown University.

Dr. Pestell has authored more than 600 publications and book chapters and more than 190 published abstracts. His work is well cited, with approximately 44,500 citations and an H-index of 113. His papers have been published in peer reviewed journals including Cell, Science, Nature Medicine, Molecular Cell and EMBO J. In March 2002, he was ranked first in the world for increase in total scientific impact in biology and first in the world for biochemistry (ISI). Dr. Pestell is funded as the Principal Investigator of three RO1 grants and Principal Investigator of the Kimmel Cancer Center CCSG grant. Dr. Pestll is the recipeint of the R.D. Wright medal, Komen Light of Life award, a Doctorus Honoris Causa, the Raine Distinguished Professor, elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Advance Global Australian Award, and the Eric Susman Prize in Medicine (awarded by the Royal Australian College of Physicians).