H.  Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute

Alvaro Monteiro, PhD
Molecular Epidemiology of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer”

As the name implies, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast cancer lacking three proteins: the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and the human epidermal growth receptor type 2 (HER2/Neu).  The absence of these markers in a tumor means that the tumor is aggressive and, that two effective therapies used in breast cancer treatment, hormonal and Herceptin-based therapy, are not options for the women affected. TNBCs disproportionally affect young non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women and has been associated with low income.  Thus, TNBC takes a significant toll from the women not only at the personal level but also at the population level in Florida.  One important first step to change this picture was to identify genetic factors that predispose women to this type of breast cancer. We will use state of the art techniques and innovative concepts to conduct a functional analysis of regions in the human genome associated with predisposition to TNBC.  We will identify specific genetic variants associated with TNBC and determine their mechanism of action.  This knowledge is critical to the development of rationally designed preventive and therapeutic avenues for TNBC.


University of Florida-
Mansour Mohamadzadeh, PhD
Role of Intestinal Microbiota in the Development of Anxiety and Depression in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy”

We propose that induced anxiety and depression in patients with early stage breast cancer can be significantly altered by changes in the balance of gut commensal bacteria.  To test this hypothesis, our laboratories have access to the most sophisticated germ-free mouse facilities and sequencing platforms to elucidate the role of gut microbiota from breast cancer patients that will be transplanted into germ-free mice to then access the consequences thereafter. These investigations may lead to the development of novel biological therapy to treat or prevent depression and anxiety in breast cancer patients after their chemotherapy regimens


University of Florida Board of Trustees
David Reisman MD, PhD
Define the Impact of SWI/SNF Inactivation on Breast Cancer”

The purpose of this project is to learn more about whether identifying certain changes to a common anti-cancer gene called Brahma can help us understand who is more at risk for breast cancer.  The Brahma gene is important for proper cell growth, and we know from studies in mice that when this gene fails to work properly, cancers can develop.  We have found that people with variations in two components of this gene are at higher risk for lung and other cancers, and we predict that this will also be true for breast cancer.  If true, the presence of these two markers would help to define a population of women under 50 who are at high risk of getting breast cancer and who might actually benefit from getting mammograms as a means of early diagnosis and treatment.


University of Miami
Michael Antoni, PhD
Facilitating Positive Adaptation to Breast Cancer: Pyschoneuroimmunologic Mechanisms”

We propose to test the effects of novel, briefer (5 week) forms of stress management on psychosocial adaptation (positive and negative affect/mood) and several cellular and molecular processes that could explain the health benefits of these interventions in women with breast cancer in South Florida who recently participated in a study of stress management during primary treatment.

This is the first trial to evaluate these briefer forms of ‘clinic-ready’ stress management and their underlying PNI mechanisms across a diverse sample of breast cancer patients in South Florida who are undergoing treatment.


University of Miami
Marc Lippman, MD
Depression and Breast Cancer: An Inflammatory Connection.”

Although localized breast cancer is curable, metastatic breast cancer is overwhelmingly lethal.  We are interested in understanding the impact and potential clinical utility of modulation of systemic inflammation on metastatic disease.  We propose that systemic inflammation has a pivotal role in breast cancer progressive and may be of potential therapeutic interest.

We propose to identify the biological link between depression and breast cancer progression by analyzing inflammatory molecules in mouse models of breast cancer.  On one hand we will determine if advanced disease (metastatic) leads to depressive behavior, and on the other hand whether depression accelerates development of breast cancer in our models. 

We will conduct a clinical study in which, for the first time, the impact of anti-depressant therapy on levels of those inflammatory mediators will be quantified in breast cancer patients.  Our work has the potential to uncover a critical link between breast cancer metastasis and depression, which may lead to novel therapeutic interventions, providing better care for breast cancer patients.


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