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Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers Research

  • Shom Goel, MD, PhD, and Jean Zhao, PhD

    Shom Goel, MD, PhD, and Jean Zhao, PhD, are studying ways to improve the efficacy of immunotherapy in patients with breast cancer.

  • Breast cancer

    We believe outstanding clinical care is directly linked to an active program of basic and clinical research. Our basic scientists are looking at immune response through laboratory studies, creating laboratory models to study cancer metastases or resistance, and researching how to exploit DNA repair defects. Our physician-scientists are testing immunotherapy, targeted treatments, and combinations for the three subtypes: hormone receptor positive, HER2-positive, and triple-negative. This work includes primary tumors and metastatic cancer.

    Clinical trials

    We offer our breast cancer patients access to more than 40 clinical trials at a time — many of which are changing the standard of care worldwide and are not available elsewhere. Our clinical trials focus on the types and phases of your disease so therapy can be targeted to your type of breast cancer. At the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, breast cancer patients are not only the beneficiaries of research advances; in a patient-centered approach, they help guide the research itself. The Breast Cancer Advocacy Group (BCAG), composed chiefly of breast cancer patients and survivors, provide a patient perspective to the Center's clinical investigators.

    Learn more about breast cancer patient advocates, including how to become one.

    Gynecologic cancer

    Researchers in the Gynecologic Oncology Program are exploring gynecologic cancers from a wide variety of scientific angles – from discoveries about the genes that cause tumors to develop and grow, to investigations of immunotherapies, to studies of ways drugs can be combined to fight recurrent cancer.

    Our basic scientists are looking at immune response through laboratory studies, creating laboratory models to study cancer resistance, and researching how to exploit DNA repair defects. They are also exploring the genetic underpinnings of gynecologic cancers to find the mutations responsible for the disease. Our physician-scientists are focused on the development of new treatments for specific subtypes of gynecologic cancers, including PARP inhibitors for BRCA-related high grade serous ovarian cancer.

    Clinical trials

    As a major research institution, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) provides patients not only with outstanding care, but also with some of the most advanced therapies available.

    We base our treatments on the latest scientific findings, and many patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of promising new treatments.

    Cancer Genetics and Prevention

    Researchers in the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention conduct prevention studies to help women make educated choices about their health based on family history, inherited genetic mutations, and additional risk factors.

    One major study is a collaborative, crowd-sourced effort to gather data about recently identified genetic mutations that put someone at risk for breast, ovarian, or other cancer. This prospective registry of multiplex testing (PROMPT) is enrolling patients and gathering information. In another study, investigators are testing the benefit of liquid-based blood biopsies to find genetic mutations.