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BCRF Grantee Since

2005

Donor Recognition

The ULTA Beauty Award

Area(s) of Focus

W. Fraser Symmans, MD

Professor of Pathology
Director of Research Operations
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Current Research

Dr. Symmans is investigating methods to translate the predictive signatures to tissue samples that have been fixed in formalin and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) for routine processing. This research aims to develop a reliable method to predict whether or not an individual will be able to benefit from endocrine therapy, a commonly used breast cancer drug. Through a series of matched comparisons of different technical and sample variables, including whole transcriptome sequencing (RNAseq) and two microarray platforms, Dr. Symmans and his colleagues have demonstrated feasibility that accurate translation of a gene signature that predicts sensitivity to endocrine therapy would be possible, either using a truncated signature that contains only the most technically robust genes, or by translating the genomic signatures to an RNAseq platform, in order to design a custom array. They have also completed the profiling of blinded anonymous samples from patients with known outcomes following FEC-docetaxel chemotherapy to test their predictive algorithm and are awaiting independent analyses of the predictive accuracy.

Mid-Year Summary

Dr. Symmans and his team are are investigating methods to translate the predictive signatures to tissue samples that have been fixed in formalin and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) for routine processing. Through a series of matched comparisons of different technical and sample variables, including whole transcriptome sequencing and three microarray platforms, they have demonstrated feasibility that accurate translation of high dimensional gene expression signatures will probably be possible using novel techniques. In a related study that is now a multicenter trial by the Austrian Gynecologic Oncology group, they have also analyzed blinded anonymous samples from patients with known outcomes following FEC-docetaxel chemotherapy to test their predictive algorithm.

Bio

Dr. Fraser Symmans is Professor and Director of Research Operations in the Department of Pathology at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His clinical diagnostic practice is in Breast Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology. Dr. Symmans received his medical degree from the University of Auckland, New Zealand in 1987. He completed his residency training in Anatomical Pathology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City and fellowship training in Cytopathology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Symmans joined the faculty of New York University Medical Center in 1993 and moved to MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2000.

Dr. Symmans's research is focused on breast cancer, with specific emphasis on neoadjuvant (pre-operative) treatment trials for evaluation of chemosensitivity and development of diagnostic tests to select the most effective treatments for individuals with breast cancer. Dr Symmans has adapted genomic technologies to clinical needle biopsies of breast cancer in order to use gene expression profiling to identify important genes for response to chemotherapy and, independently, to endocrine therapy; to validate gene expression tests with clinical potential; and to establish their performance in the context of clinical testing. In this capacity he directs a CLIA-compliant Pharmacogenomics Laboratory to support clinical trials.

Dr. Symmans is also an active member within multicenter research collaborations, is a researcher for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, currently a Komen Scholar, participates within the National Cancer Institute’s North American Breast Group (NABG) and the Breast International Group (BIG) where he co-chairs the Residual Disease Working Group and is a member of the Biomarkers Working Group and the Breast Oncology Local Regional (BOLD) Task Force, and is a member of the Tumor Biomarkers Panel For Advanced Breast Cancer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).