This program is internationally recognized, as exemplified by the longstanding Specialized Program of Research Excellence Award (since 1992). UNC is a founding member of the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC), established in 2006 to facilitate bench-to-bedside clinical research with emphasis on tissue-based correlative science explorations of breast cancer behavior and response to therapy.
Division faculty members in this program include:
- Carey Anders, MD, is the co-Leader of the Breast Research Program and an international expert in the biology and treatment of brain metastasis. Findings from her laboratory are directly linked to clinical trials that she develops and runs.
- Lisa Carey, MD, ScM, who is also the Division Chief, is internationally known in the field of translating emerging understanding of the molecular subtypes of breast cancer into the clinical realm by designing trials testing both biomarkers and treatment regimens.
- Claire Dees, MD, ScM, is the Head of our Experimental Therapeutics group, a joint member of the School of Pharmacy, and develops and leads trials of novel and experimental drugs, particularly Phase I trials of new drugs.
- Trevor Jolly, MD, is a unique resource having trained in both Geriatrics and Oncology. He studies the impact of physiological age on tolerance of cancer therapy in older patients.
- Hyman Muss, MD, is a founder of the field of geriatric oncology, and created the Geriatric Program in Oncology focused on training physicians, developing tools for assessing physiologic age in older patients, and performing clinical trials designed to improve outcomes.
- Kirsten Nyrop, PhD, is an expert in exercise interventions designed to improve tolerance of chemotherapy, reduce toxicity of endocrine therapies, and to augment quality of life in survivors of breast cancer.
- Katie Reeder-Hayes, MD, MBA, MPH, is an expert in comparative effectiveness and impact research. She is particularly involved in studies designed to improve adherence to prescribed therapy and understanding of real-world patient experience.
- Breast Cancer Strategic Research Areas
- UNC Breast Center
- The Carolina Breast Cancer Study
- Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Breast Cancer – One of only six Breast Cancer SPORE programs in the country, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation recognizes the UNC Breast Cancer Research Program for its efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary and translational cancer research.
- Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, focuses on the development and use of patient-reported outcomes. His group established that many patient symptoms are missed in cancer drug development and practice. They developed tools for the National Cancer institute to measure these symptoms, and demonstrated that integrating these tools in clinical trials and routine practice yields substantial clinical benefits. He is currently leading national trials assessing patient-reported outcomes in cancer care, and for quality improvement. The program supports the PRO Core resource for supporting patient-centered research.
- Hanna Sanoff, MD, MPH, has focused on outcomes research in gastrointestinal malignancies, particularly large linked database analyses using the UNC CIPHR resource. Her work has demonstrated that FDA-approved drugs in hepatocellular carcinoma have reduced benefits in real-world populations, compared to highly-selected clinical trial populations. Using data from cancer registries linked to administrative claims data she has extensively evaluated the role of postoperative “adjuvant” chemotherapy in colon and rectal cancers, providing key evidence for attenuation of chemotherapy benefit in patients over the age of 70. She is currently using the Rapid Case Ascertainment system to identify incidence cases of liver cancer in North Carolina in order to identify systematic barriers to cancer treatment in hepatocellular carcinoma in the state.
- Katie Reeder-Hayes, MD, MBA, MPH, focuses on outcomes work in breast cancer. She has conducted multiple linked claims data analyses demonstrating disparities in care. Most recently, she has linked genomic data to registry and insurance claims data to characterize patterns of care.
- Bill Wood, MD, is an expert in exercise and fitness optimization in cancer care. He conducts national trials evaluating methods for quantifying fitness in patients undergoing cancer treatment, and assessing potential benefits of exercise interventions.
- Hyman Muss, MD, is an expert in geriatric oncology and leads that program at UNC. He has led numerous trials assessing the benefits of assessing health and functional status among older patients with cancer.
Clinical Research in the division is organized into disease-site groups, with each featuring multidisciplinary care often led by division faculty. Clinical research at UNC includes both bench-to-bedside transfer of novel laboratory findings into the clinic, but bedside-to-bench translational efforts in which blood and cancer tissues from our patients provided to scientists within and outside the division allow greater understanding of the biology of blood-based disorders and cancer. Cancer-related clinical research in oncology is centered at UNC Lineberger, which includes a Centralized Protocol Office and Office of Clinical/Translational Research that provide infrastructure for clinical and translational efforts. Division faculty hold national leadership roles in clinical research in Breast Cancer (Anders), Cancer Outcomes (Basch), Experimental Therapeutics (Dees), Genitourinary Malignancies (Milowsky), Sickle Cell (Ataga), and Thrombosis and Hemostasis (Key).
Some of the larger programs include:
- Breast cancer – led by Carey Anders, MD
- GI malignancies – led by Autumn McRee, MD
- GU malignancies – led by Matt Milowsky, MD
- Head & Neck and Thoracic malignancies – led by Jared Weiss, MD
- Immunotherapy – led by Jon Serody, MD
- Leukemia – led by Matt Foster, MD
- Lymphoma – led by Anne Beaven, MD
- Melanoma – led by Stergios Moschos, MD
- Myeloma – led by Sascha Tuchman, MD, MHS
- Neurooncology – led by Simon Khagi, MD
- Phase I / Experimental therapeutics – led by Claire Dees, MD ScM
- Sickle Cell – led by Ken Ataga, MBBS (McAllister Heart Institute)
- Thrombosis / Hemostasis – led by Nigel Key, MD (McAllister Heart Institute)
The global oncology program complements the National Cancer Institute’s recently-announced strategic priority: addressing the global problem of cancer. While collaboration with researchers outside of the US was part of the National Cancer Act of 1971, the emergence of genomic technologies and the understanding that cancer is many different diseases makes a global perspective essential to progress. The program’s global mission currently includes clinical sites in the United States, Brazil, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, India, and China.
The leader of this program is Dr. Satish Gopal, Cancer Program Director for UNC Project Malawi, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.
- This UNC Newsroom piece describes Dr. Gopal’s cancer care work in Malawi: From the Ground up: The State of Cancer Care in Malawi.
- Dr. Gopal makes a powerful case for the importance of global health research in this essay published October 10 in JAMA.
One of the many members of the program is Dr. Ben Vincent, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.