Keywords: breast cancer research, cancer genetics, bioinformatics, genomics, epidemiology and clinical research
Breast cancer is a prevalent disease with known clinical and molecular diversity. To address these challenges, my research team uses a multidisciplinary approach based upon genomics, genetics, cancer biology, bioinformatics, epidemiology, and clinical research to improve the outcomes of cancer patients. A major contribution of mine has been the discovery of the intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer. We demonstrated that breast cancers can be divided into at least five molecular subtypes using the “PAM50” assay, with my lab focusing particular attention on the Basal-like subtype, which represents ~80% of Triple Negative Breast Cancers. In addition, we have translated these molecular classifications into the human population; specifically, by using the Carolina Breast Cancer Study (CBCS), we have found that young African American (AA) women are diagnosed with Basal-like Breast Cancers approximately twice as often as their Caucasian counterparts. These results provide a partial explanation of the racial outcomes disparity in the USA between AAs and Caucasians; however, additional studies are needed and are an emphasis of our ongoing research.
Our main research focus includes identifying the drivers of metastatic disease, determining the role of the adaptive immune system in breast tumor progression, and improving therapeutic targeting of TNBC/Basal-like tumors. We use a multitude of experimental and computational approaches, including RNA-sequencing (RNAseq), single-cell approaches, proteomics, DNA exome and whole genome sequencing, cell culture, and mouse models. We use these approaches to discover the causative events of each molecular subtype in human tumors and then model these events in cell lines and mouse models where we can investigate tumor biology and immune system interactions. All of these genomic studies generate large volumes of data, and thus a significant portion of my lab is devoted to computational approaches to use these multi-omics data to develop statistical predictors of tumor responsiveness and long-term patient outcomes.
I am currently a Professor in the Department of Genetics, and have been a faculty member at UNC-CH since 2000. I am also the Co-Director of the Computational Medicine Program, Faculty Director of the LCCC Bioinformatics Group, and Co-Director of the LCCC Breast Cancer Research Program. I am a member of the AACR, ASCO, the ALLIANCE Breast Committee, and the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium. My lab has received support from the NIH/NCI, Susan G. Komen, V Foundation for Cancer Research, and Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I have also co-founded three genomics-based biotechnology companies that are bringing new genomic tests into clinical care.
I actively strive to foster a diverse work environment, including people from different cultures and training backgrounds (i.e., biologists, geneticists, bioinformaticians, statisticians, oncologists, surgical oncologists, pathologists, and others). I am actively seeking new graduate students, medical fellows, and postdoctoral fellows, and have opportunities available for both experimentalists and computational scientists.
Awards and Honors
- Ruth and Phillip Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement from UNC (2006)
- AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research (2009)
- Danaher Scientific & Medical Award from the Susan G. Komen (2011)
- The European Institute of Oncology Breast Cancer Therapy Award (2012)
- Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Cancer Research Award from UNC (2013)
- Jill Rose Award for Distinguished Biomedical Research from the BRCF (2016)
- Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Research from the Susan G. Komen (2016)
- Thomson Reuters Most Highly Cited Researchers (Top 1% in Clinical Medicine) (2014-20)
- Association of American Cancer Institutes Distinguished Scientist Award (2018)
- OncLive Giants of Cancer Care Award (2019)
- AACR Team Science Award to recognize TCGA Pilot & Current TCGA Project Teams (2020)
- Bias 101
- DEI Program Part 1 – Unconscious Bias
- DEI Program Part 2 – Respecting All
- Office of Graduate Education Trained Mentor
- REI Groundwater Training
Training Program Affiliations:
- Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
- Genetics and Molecular Biology
- Pathobiology & Translational Science
Charles Perou in UNC Genetics News
May 11, 2023
Genetics Faculty Featured at UNC Lineberger’s 46th Annual Scientific Symposium
Leading investigators offer ‘highly scientific, but patient-focused’ talks on women’s cancers at symposium
May 7, 2023
Department of Genetics Publications for April 23rd – May 6th, 2023
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published 11 papers during April 23rd – May 6th, 2023.
April 26, 2023
Perou elected as fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy
The American Association for Cancer Research has elected UNC Lineberger’s Charles M. Perou, PhD, as a fellow to the AACR Academy.
April 23, 2023
Department of Genetics Publications for April 9th – 22nd, 2023
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published 15 papers during April 9th – 22nd, 2023.
March 13, 2023
Department of Genetics Publications for February 26th – March 11th, 2023
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published 12 papers during February 26th – March 11th, 2023.
February 28, 2023
Beltran, Perou and Valdar Recognized with Awards for Excellence in Basic Science Mentoring
The Office of Graduate Education has recognized three Genetics faculty members with Mentoring Awards.
February 27, 2023
Department of Genetics Publications for February 12th – 25th, 2023
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published 9 papers during February 12th – 25th, 2023.
January 30, 2023
Department of Genetics Publications for January 15th – 28th, 2023
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published 16 papers during January 15th – 28th, 2023.
January 26, 2023
Study identifies molecular differences between primary breast cancer and its metastases
Findings may provide insights on the development and progression of metastatic breast cancer.
January 2, 2023
Department of Genetics Publications for December 18th – 31st, 2022
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published 10 papers during December 18th – 31st, 2022.