Funded Projects

Awardee for 2012:

Ana Barac, MD, PhD is an Attending Physician, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.  She is the principal investigator for the study, "Cardiac function in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers with a history of breast cancer treated with anthracyclines." 

* Note:  This study is funded for 2 years. 


Carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations face elevated risks for developing breast cancer and other cancers. Increased non-oncologic mortality was recently reported in this population, suggesting that BRCA1/2 mutation carriers also face elevated risks of non-oncologic disease. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes whose protein products are involved in DNA repair. Unrepaired DNA damage predisposes to the development of cancer and other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Early stage breast cancer is often treated with anthracyclines, which can be cardiotoxic. Laboratory data demonstrate that mice with BRCA1/2 defects develop enhanced cardiotoxicity after anthracycline-induced stress.

This study will evaluate whether human BRCA1/2 mutation carriers face increased risks for anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity due to their underlying defect in DNA repair. We plan to compare echocardiographic assessments of cardiac structure and function between BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and non-carriers, all of whom previously received anthracycline-based adjuvant chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer. We hypothesize that the echocardiographic findings among the BRCA1/2 mutation carriers will be indicative of greater anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity than among the non-carriers.

This will be the first study to investigate cardiac function in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and its results will provide insight into whether BRCA1/2 mutation carriers have increased susceptibility to cardiac dysfunction after receiving anthracycline-based treatment for early stage breast cancer. If this is found to be the case, BRCA1/2 mutation status may be an important factor to consider when deciding whether to treat early stage breast cancer with anthracycline-based therapy. In addition, further study will be required to elucidate whether enhanced cardiac monitoring or prevention could reduce cardiovascular morbidity in this population.

Awardee for 2010:

Mitchell Jung, PhD, now an adjunct Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology was funded for his study, "Role of PARP-1 on DNA Damage Response and Repair."

Read the abstract here.  

Awardees for 2009:  

Dr. Timothy Jorgensen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Medicine, and his study was, “Nucleotide Excision Repair and Breast Cancer Risk;”
Dr. Tapas Saha was a Research Instructor in the Department of Oncology, and his study was,  “Role of BRCA1 on Nitric Oxide Regulation in Familial Breast Cancer;”  and
Dr. Luciane Cavalli is an Assistant Professor of Oncology and her study was, "BP1 Amplification and Protein Expression in Familial Breast Cancer Cases."

Abstracts of these awards are here

Awardees for 2008: 

Dr. Vanessa Sheppard is now an Associate Professor of Oncology and her study was entitled, "Understanding Barriers and Motivators to African American Women's Participation in Genetic Counseling and Testing." Co-funding for the study was provided by the American Cancer Society (MRSGT-06-132-01 CPPB).

Dr. Bassem Haddad is an Associate Professor of Oncology and his study was, "The Role of Interferon Regulatory Factor-1 (IRF-1) Loss in Familial Breast Tumors."

Abstracts of these awards are here