Priscilla Furth, MD

Physician Scientist

Dr. Furth is a physician-scientist and Professor of Oncology and Medicine at Georgetown University. She studies breast cancer genetics in the laboratory and runs a physical fitness clinic for breast cancer patients, survivors, and those at risk. A graduate of Yale Medical School, she completed fellowships at Harvard and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. A recipient of the Georgetown Women in Medicine Outstanding Achievement Award in 2010, Dr. Furth has over 20 years of experience working with patients with chronic conditions or disease and brings this experience to her new clinic designed to provide fitness recommendations for breast cancer patients, survivors, and those at risk.

Dr. Furth’s research is focused on developing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to the management of pre-malignancy. Dr. Furth and her research team are interested in understanding the earliest stages of cancer progression and when and how to prevent or reverse them through both pharmacological and life-style interventions. They have developed mouse models of Estrogen Receptor alpha (ERα) that exhibit defined stages of reversible and irreversible cancer progression, which may be used to dissect genetic pathways contributing to the development of mammary preneoplasia and cancer as well as for preclinical studies of candidate chemopreventive regimens. In the mammary gland, Dr. Furth’s research group focuses on how deregulated expression of ERα and/or gain of co-activator AIB1 expression and/or loss of Brca1 function trigger development of mammary epithelial cell hyperplasia, DCIS and invasive cancer, and how loss of Stat5a function influences this cancer progression. Dr. Furth’s lab has also investigated the role of estrogen and progesterone signaling in the development of BRCA1 mutation related breast cancer utilizing a mouse model with mammary targeted deletion of the Brca1 gene using a Cre-Lox system. Her salivary gland research concentrates on mechanisms of cell cycle control and differentiation. Dr. Furth’s latest research examines how changes in expression levels of p53, Amplified In Breast Cancer (AIB)1 and a splice variant of AIB1/SRC-3 called AIB1Δ3 impact development of ERα-mediated development of mammary preneoplasia and cancer. Genetic, physiological and biochemical approaches are used in combination with in vivo imaging, reflectance confocal microscopy and standard histological and pathological techniques. This basic science laboratory work is designed to provide a mechanistic framework for translational studies in humans. The models developed by Dr. Furth and her team have led to the investigation of genetic and age-related factors in development of tamoxifen resistance. In the future, these models plan to be used for studies investigating novel chemopreventive regimens as well as examining the genetic factors that interact with loss of BRCA1 function in the generation of tamoxifen resistance through a shift in its antagonist/agonist function.