Breast Cancer

Electron microscope image of a breast cancer cell

A Research Program Like No Other

For nearly 300,000 American women each year, a breast cancer diagnosis will change everything. At Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences we’ve assembled leading investigators in molecular oncology, epigenetics, and stem-cell research to understand this devastating disease and bring us closer to a cure. Our researchers are asking bold questions that will help us: lower the incidence of breast cancer; devise earlier, more accurate diagnostic tools; offer better treatment; and increase survival rates. Current work includes:

  • Revolutionary molecular and cellular screening techniques that are 1,000–10,000 times more sensitive than current testing
  • Advances in our understanding of cell plasticity and complex cell-to-cell communications, yielding multiple new drug targets that are moving swiftly toward clinical trials
  • Key discoveries about the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat forms of breast cancer, including triple-negative and inflammatory breast cancers
  • New insights in epigenetic gene regulation, the process by which chemical changes to DNA can “switch on” cancer-promoting genes, including ground-breaking discoveries about the role of bisphenol A (BPA) in breast cancer
  • A growing role for Tufts in breast cancer prevention, with partners like the Breast Cancer Foundation and Silent Spring Institute and Fundamental work in tissue organization field theory, a new theoretical basis for cancer research that challenges our longest held assumptions about cancer

The Breast Cancer Working Group: Thriving on Collaboration

At Tufts, we’ve worked hard to create the optimal climate for biomedical research, where collaboration and creativity are the norm. The Breast Cancer Working Group (BCWG) exemplifies that approach. Here, experts from multiple fields can focus their efforts, share ideas, and benefit from multiple perspectives all trained on the same goal: the eradication of breast cancer. The BCWG brings clinical and basic science investigators from across Tufts together with faculty from Tufts Medical Center (Tufts MC), our primary research affiliate. The group is co-led by Gail Sonenshein and John K. Erban III, M.D., M81, clinical director of the Tufts Cancer Center at Tufts MC and one of Boston’s premier breast cancer clinicians. BCWG members include the principal TUSM faculty described here, and Tufts colleagues from the schools of nutrition, veterinary medicine, arts and sciences, and engineering. This exceptional concentration and diversity is valuable for our current researchers and draws talented new investigators to Tufts every year, infusing our work with energy and ideas.

Read about our Principal Faculty in Breast Cancer Research »

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