Luciane R. Cavalli, PhD

Molecular Cytogeneticist

Dr. Cavalli is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center, a member of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and of the Fisher Center for Familial Cancer Research. She is a molecular cytogeneticist in training, having 15 years of experience in the field. Her main research interest is the study of genomic instability in breast cancer, through the identification and characterization of the genetic alterations involved in the onset and progression of these tumors. Currently she has been focusing on projects identifying molecular markers associated with sentinel lymph node metastasis, the first node in the axilla to metastasize in breast cancer. Her project has an important translational impact considering that the identification of such markers, which ideally could be detected in the primary tumor and/or breast fluids, can potentially lead to the ability to identify patients at high risk for lymph node metastasis, allowing for early intervention and more suitable adjuvant cancer treatments. Other projects involve the study of genetic alterations in triple negative breast tumors (ER, PR and HER2 negative), known for their poor prognosis and aggressive clinical outcome. Of special interest is the cancer disparity related to the mortality of these tumors; some ethnic groups, such as African American, Hispanic and Latina women have a higher mortality rate when compared to Whites. She has been concentrating her studies in the Latina population to identify biologic mechanisms that can account for such cancer disparity. In addition to her laboratory research, where Dr.Cavalli mentors several PhD and post doctoral students, she teaches annually at the Tumor Biology Program of Georgetown University, at the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES), NIH and at genetic graduate courses at Federal University of Parana, Brazil.