Molecular Genetics of Breast Cancer Initiation and Progression

Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD,
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Breast cancer is a complex disease associated with changes in the molecular profile of multiple cellular pathways involving cell growth and proliferation. In order to prevent and effectively treat breast cancer, it is essential to identify the genes that contribute to the initiation of breast tumorigenesis.

Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and her team are evaluating the molecular profiles of cancerous breast tissue with the goal of improving clinical care for breast cancer patients. Dr. Polyak and her group have developed new, cutting-edge technologies that allow for the detailed molecular profiling of isolated cells from human tissue, including both normal and breast cancer tissue. Using this method, the team has identified genetic and epigenetic changes in individual cell types that occur during disease progression. Identifying specific genetic changes associated with disease progression will enable new clinical tools for assessing patient risk for disease progression as well as the development of new targeted therapies for breast cancer prevention and treatment.