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.” 


Animal data suggest that defects in BRCA1/2 genes significantly increase the risk of heart failure and mortality in mice exposed to doxorubicine. Women with BRCA1/2 mutations who develop breast cancer (BC) may receive anthracyclines but their risk of cardiac dysfunction has not been investigated. Our study tested the hypothesis that women with history of BRCA1/2 mutation-associated BC treated with anthracyclines have impaired parameters of cardiac function compared to similarly treated women with history of sporadic BC. Women with history of BC and anthracycline treatment underwent an echocardiographic exam for assessment of primary outcomes, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and global longitudinal strain (GLS). The sample size of 81 provided 79 % power with two-sided two-sample t test and alpha of 0.05 to detect a clinically meaningful difference in cardiac function of absolute 5 % points difference for LVEF and 2 % points difference for GLS. Of 81 normotensive participants, 39 were BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and 42 in the sporadic group. Mean age was 50 ± 9 years in both groups (P = 0.99) but BRCA1/2 mutation carriers had longer anthracycline treatment-to-enrollment time (7.5 ± 5.3 vs. 4.2 ± 3.3 years, P = 0.001). There were no significant differences in LVEF (P = 0.227) or GLS (P = 0.53) between the groups. LVEF was normal in 91 % of women and subclinical cardiac dysfunction defined as absolute GLS value <18.9 % was seen in 4 (10 %) BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and 7 (17 %) sporadic participants. In this first prospective examination of cardiac function in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, we found no significant differences in sensitive echocardiographic parameters of cardiac function between BRCA1/2 mutation carriers and women with history of sporadic BC who received anthracycline treatment. In contrast to laboratory animal data, our findings indicate lack of elevated cardiac risk with the use of standard-doses of adjuvant anthracyclines in treatment of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers with early stage BC.

Read the full paper.

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.

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.”

View Abstracts of these 2009 awards.

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.”

View abstracts of these 2008 awards.