Keywords: breast cancer research, cancer genetics, bioinformatics, genomics, epidemiology and clinical research
My research interests span the disciplines of cancer biology, genomics, genetics, bioinformatics, statistics, systems biology, and the treatment of cancer patients in the clinic. A major contribution of mine to the field of precision medicine has been the genomic characterization of human tumors, which resulted in the discovery of the Intrinsic Subtypes of Breast Cancer. This gene expression-based classification was the first to identify the Basal-like/Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) subtype, and has been translated into a test that is being used in breast cancer clinics worldwide. In combination with our studies on human tumor specimens, we also use model systems to identify the genetic and micro-environmental causes of the Intrinsic Subtypes of Breast Cancer and then use this information to test novel targeted therapies. Genomic-based classifications for other cancer types, including lung, head and neck, and ovarian cancers are also being developed.
The main experimental focus of the Perou Lab is on breast cancer, where we have demonstrated that breast tumors can be classified into five molecular subtypes. We are currently elucidating the genetic causes that give rise to each subtype, in part through our work on The Cancer Genome Atlas Breast Cancer Project. The experimental approaches currently being pursued on tumor specimens include RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq), single-cell RNA-seq, DNA exome sequencing, whole genome sequencing (WGS), cell/tissue culturing, and proteomics. We are mimicking these human tumor subtype specific alterations in genetically engineered mouse models, and also using primary tumor patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), to investigate the efficacy of new drugs and drug combinations. All of these genomic and genetic studies generate large volumes of data; thus, a significant portion of my lab is devoted to using these data to create computational predictors of complex cancer phenotypes, which are based, in part, upon a systems biology approach, and will ultimately be applied in the clinic.
In addition, we have translated these molecular findings into a much wider human patient population. Specifically by using a North Carolina population-based study (i.e. the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, CBCS), we have found that pre-menopausal African American (AA) women are diagnosed with Basal-like Breast Cancers approximately twice as often as their Caucasian counterparts, and AAs also have fewer Luminal A breast cancers. These results provide a biological mechanism that can help explain why there is a racial outcomes disparity in the USA between AAs and Caucasians; however, additional molecular and population-based studies are needed, and are currently underway (i.e. CBCS Phase III), which should allow us to more thoroughly understand these outcome differences.
I am a currently the May Goldman Shaw Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology, a Professor of Genetics, and of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, and have been a faculty member at UNC since 2000. I am also the Faculty Director of the LCCC Bioinformatics Group, and Co-Director of the LCCC Breast Cancer Research Program. I have authored more than 330 peer-reviewed articles, and am an inventor on five USA patents. 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, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and V Foundation for Cancer Research, and I have also co-founded two genomics-based biotechnology companies (BioClassifier LLC, and GeneCentric Therapeutics). I am actively seeking new graduate students, medical fellows, and postdocs and have opportunities available for both experimental and computational scientists.
Awards and Honors
- AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research (2009)
- Danaher Scientific & Medical Award, a Susan G. Komen Award (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) (2014-16)
Charles Perou in UNC Genetics News
September 8, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for August 23 – Sept. 5, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published eight papers during August 23 – Sept. 5, 2020.
August 10, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for July 26 – August 8, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and staff published nine papers during July 26 – August 8, 2020.
July 27, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for July 12-25, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published twelve papers during July 12-25, 2020.
June 29, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for June 14-27, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published nine papers during June 14-27, 2020.
June 22, 2020
TCGA Recognized with AACR 2020 Team Science Awards
The founding members and current project team of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project were recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and will be honored during the virtual AACR meeting to be held Jun 22-24.
May 18, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for May 3-16, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published ten papers during May 3-16, 2020.
March 10, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for Feb. 23 – March 7, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published fourteen papers during Feb. 23 – March 7, 2020.
February 10, 2020
Department of Genetics Publications for Jan. 26 – Feb. 8, 2020
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published fifteen papers during Jan. 26 – Feb. 8, 2020.
December 17, 2019
Department of Genetics Publications for Dec. 1-14, 2019
Department of Genetics faculty, postdocs, students and collaborators published nine papers during Dec. 1-14, 2019.
December 4, 2019
Department of Genetics Faculty Recognized for Highly Cited Research
Six Genetics faculty members were named to the annual list of Highly Cited Researchers by Thomson Reuters. These faculty are ranked in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science for 2019.