Loss-of-function variants in CTNNA1 detected on multigene panel testing in individuals with gastric or breast cancer (February 2020)
A recent paper published in Genetics in Medicine is a collaborative effort between researchers at Penn Medicine, the Basser Center, and across the country. It is the first large-scale report to describe findings from clinical testing of the CTNNA1 gene, which may represent a risk factor for early-onset diffuse gastric cancer and possibly breast cancer. More information is needed to better determine the true cancer risks associated with CTNNA1 variants. Read more.
The Other Jewish Women’s Cancer (February 2020)
Lilith Magazine examined the genetic risk of ovarian cancer, especially in Jewish women, and interviewed Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, about prevention, screening, and treatment options. Read more.
As Home Genetic Tests Flood Market, Are Physicians Being Left Behind? (January 2020)
Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center, discussed at-home genetic testing and whether or not patients who need these tests the most have access. Watch the video.
The Reinterpretation of Genetic Tests Is Rare (January 2020)
In a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal, Kara Maxwell, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology and a member of the Basser Center, and Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center, responded to an article the paper recently published about genetic testing, pointing out that reinterpretation of a patient’s genetic testing results is an incredibly rare case. Read more.
BRCA: Who Should Be Tested? (December 2019)
Cancer Today interviewed Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center, about BRCA screening, who should get tested, and who is being left out under current guidelines. Read more.
Germline genetic testing for breast cancer: which patients? What genes? (December 2019)
In this editorial for Nature, Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, discusses genetic testing and breast cancer - which patients should be tested and what genetic mutations they should be tested for. Read more.
Abramson Cancer Center Experts Take Part in NBC10/AACR Telethon (November 2019)
Experts from Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, including Basser Genetic Counselor Dana Farengo Clark, MS, LCGC, answered questions about cancer from NBC10 Philadelphia viewers as part of a telethon in partnership with the American Association for Cancer Research. Watch now.
Why Maya Rockeymoore Cummings began her congressional campaign with a double mastectomy (November 2019)
Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, commented on Congressional candidate Maya Rockeymore Cummings’ decision to undergo a preventive double mastectomy based on her family history of cancer for the Washington Post. Read more.
Nina Garcia Honored At Basser Center Gala For Cancer Research (November 2019)
Nina Garcia, editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine and judge on Project Runway, was honored at the Basser Jean Bash fundraiser on November 18, 2019. Nina helped to launch LATINX & BRCA, an initiative to raise awareness of hereditary cancer in the Latinx community. Read more.
Event in Manhattan raises over $8.5 million for research on BRCA-related cancers (November 2019)
The Basser Center for BRCA held its biannual Jean Bash fundraiser in Manhattan, bringing in more than $8.5 million to support research efforts in BRCA-related cancers. Read more.
Family Matters: The Link Between Family History & BCRA Mutations (November 2019)
Are there certain populations that are at a higher risk of BRCA mutations you should be paying close attention to? Listen to Basser Executive Director Dr. Susan Domchek's interview with ReachMD. Listen now.
A Brighter Outlook for Metastatic Breast Cancer (November 2019)
Payal D. Shah, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology at Penn Medicine and a member of the Basser Center, spoke about new treatments that are letting people live longer and improving quality of life for some patients with metastatic breast cancer. Read more.
BRCA Rules Leave Patients Behind (November 2019)
Updated guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on BRCA1/2 genetic testing recommend risk assessment, counseling, and genetic testing for women who meet certain criteria but fall short of encompassing important groups of individuals who are at risk for developing BRCA1/2 mutation–driven disease, according to critics of the update, including Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD. Read more.
Dr. Domchek on Results of the MEDIOLA Trial in BRCA-Mutated Metastatic Breast Cancer (October 2019)
Basser Executive Director, Susan Domchek, MD, discusses the results of the MEDIOLA trial in germline BRCA-mutated metastatic breast cancer. Read more.
25 Years of BRCA: How a Cancer Milestone Has Changed the Field (October 2019)
Each October, the color pink seems to take over as breast cancer awareness month moves into full swing. But 2019 represents a specific milestone in the fight. It’s been 25 years since the BRCA1 gene was first cloned — a discovery that accelerated cancer research and opened a new path for exploration in cancer prevention and treatment. Read more.
Expert Discusses the Selection of Individuals for Germline Testing Based on Breast Cancer Risk (October 2019)
Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center, discusses current guidelines and evolving best practices about when to order genetic testing for patients. Read more.
Beyoncé’s Dad Has a Mutation More African-Americans Should Be Tested For (October 2019)
Basser Young Leadership Council co-chair Erika Stallings writes for The New York Times about the importance of genetic testing for African Americans. Read more.
Home Genetic Testing Kits Sound like a Great Idea — Until They Aren’t (October 2019)
Throughout October, Penn Medicine physicians, patients, and advocates are contributing to breast cancer awareness month with a series of op-eds for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In this week’s piece, Dana Farengo Clark, MS, LCGC, a senior genetics counselor at the Basser Center, talked about the risks and drawbacks of at-home genetic testing. Read more.
Wellness Wednesday: Breast Cancer in Men (October 2019)
WOSU Radio’s “All Sides with Ann Fisher” interviewed Payal D. Shah, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology and a member of the Basser Center for BRCA, about breast cancer in men, genetic risks, and what patients should know. Listen now.
Breast Cancer is a Family Legacy for This Young Latina (October 2019)
For Hispanic Heritage Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Alejandra Campoverdi writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer about her personal experience with hereditary cancer. She also discusses her partnership with the Basser Center on LATINX & BRCA, our campaign to raise awareness, provide education and resources, and build support for the U.S. Latinx community. Read more.
What’s Your Family History? with Susan M. Domchek, MD (October 2019)
Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, discusses the importance of knowing your family health history on Real Pink, the Susan G. Komen podcast. Listen now.
Breast Cancer, Genetics and the Milestone that Keeps Bringing Hope Closer (October 2019)
Throughout October, Penn Medicine physicians, patients, and advocates will contribute to breast cancer awareness month with a series of op-eds for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the first piece, Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, marks 25 years since BRCA1 was first cloned. She explores the advances in the field since that milestone and looks to the future for areas of growth. Read more.
Meet the 2019 Breast Health Champions (October 2019)
Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, has been featured as one of Philadelphia Magazine's 2019 Breast Health Champions. In this interview with her, she discusses the role of medical oncologists, hereditary cancer, and what both men and women should know about their potential risk for breast cancer. Read more.
Mathew Knowles Reveals He is Battling Breast Cancer (October 2019)
Matthew Knowles shares his story with Good Morning America and discusses male breast cancer and BRCA mutations. Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, was interviewed for the piece and shares that "men with BRCA2 mutations have a particular increased risk of both male breast cancer and prostate cancer as well as pancreatic cancer and melanoma." Read more.
Penn’s Basser Center for BRCA Chooses Two Cambridge Researchers for 2019 Basser Global Prize (September 2019)
Douglas Easton, PhD, and Antonis Antoniou, PhD, have been named as the recipients of the seventh annual Basser Global Prize. Easton and Antoniou are both professors in the department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, and members of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre. Read more.
Dr. Domchek on Potential Benefits of Biosimilars in Oncology (September 2019)
Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center, discusses the potential benefits of biosimilars in oncology. Biosimilars are like "generic" medications; they are officially approved versions of innovative, original products. Read more.
Broadening Criteria for BRCA1/2 Evaluation Placing the USPSTF Recommendation in Context (August 2019)
For the Journal of the American Medical Association, Basser executive director Susan Domchek, MD, and Memorial Sloan Kettering's Mark Robson, MD, discuss limitations around the new United States Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for BRCA genetic testing. Read more.
Identification and Confirmation of Potentially Actionable Germline Mutations in Tumor-Only Genomic Sequencing (August 2019)
Basser Center genetic counselors and investigators teamed up to analyze publicly available data for genes in which mutations are implicated in germline cancer susceptibility and establish a pipeline to automate clinical referral for evaluation of tumor-only genetic profiling. Read more.
Women proudly model bikinis after body-changing battles (July 2019)
Basser Young Leadership co-chair Erika Stallings is featured in a body awareness piece from the New York Post, where she discusses life after a preventive mastectomy. Read more.
Deputy Director of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center Receives $3 Million Grant from The Gray Foundation (July 2019)
Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, has been awarded a $3 million research grant from the Gray Foundation. This new Team Science Grant, titled the “Determinants of immune activity and molecular features in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers,” will support Nathanson and her team as they study new approaches to understanding immune function both in healthy BRCA mutation carriers and BRCA-related cancers. Read more.
Blackstone President Jonathan Gray Donates $25 Million To Tackle Deadly Breast Cancer Gene (July 2019)
Basser Center founders Mindy and Jon Gray have announced a further $25 million in funding for BRCA-related research. The grants will be split among seven research teams across the globe. Read more.
Trial Highlights Complexities of Targeted Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer (June 2019)
Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, discusses the state of research showing PARP inhibitors can be effective for pancreatic patients with BRCA mutations. Read more.
How Alejandra Campoverdi Outwitted Breast Cancer While Helping Women Save Their Own Lives (June 2019)
Alejandra Campoverdi shares her story with People En Espanol and discusses her BRCA2 mutation, her recent preventative mastectomy, and her brand new collaboration with the Basser Center: LATINX & BRCA, the first BRCA-related awareness campaign focused on the Latinx community. Read more.
16 Things Doctors Wish You Knew About Breast Cancer Genetic Testing (June 2019)
Reader's Digest shares a helpful list of what doctors wish you knew about breast cancer and genetic testing (including a Basser Center mention). Read more.
How Should Patients and Providers Interpret the US Food and Drug Administration’s Regulatory Language for Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests? (June 2019)
In a recent paper for the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, discusses at-home genetic testing and the FDA’s regulatory language, which might confuse not only consumers, but also medical providers who are asked to interpret results and make clinical recommendations. Read more.
How to Quell a Cytokine Storm: International Team Finds New Ways to Dampen an Overactive Immune System (May 2019)
BRCA interacts with a multipart, molecular complex that is also responsible for regulating the immune system. When certain players in this pathway go awry, autoimmune disorders, like lupus, can arise. Now, researchers at Penn Medicine and University of Leeds, co-led by the Basser Center's director of Basic Science, Roger Greenberg, MD, PhD, have deciphered the structure of the complex and have found new molecular targets for fighting autoimmunity. Their findings are published this week in Nature. Read more.
I Had a Preventive Mastectomy—Then Found Out I Already Had Breast Cancer (May 2019)
Alejandra Campoverdi, who has partnered with the Basser Center for our LATINX & BRCA initiative, speaks about her recent preventative mastectomy. Read more.
Doctors Outline New Discoveries in the Fight to Cure Ovarian Cancer (May 2019)
Mainline Media News profiles the work of Dr. Ronny Drapkin, the Basser Center's Director of Gynecologic Cancer Research. Read more.
Penn Research Provides Insight into Genetic Link to Potential Treatment Response Among BRCA1/2 Breast Cancer Patients (May 2019)
New findings from Penn Medicine researchers, including the study’s senior author Katherine L. Nathanson, MD, the Basser Center's Director of Genetics, provide clues about immune response of tumors in patients with BRCA 1/2-related breast cancers. The research, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, could shape treatment strategies and clinical trial design for these patients, who make up about two percent of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Read more.
Pancreatic cancer treatments show promise in studies, Penn reports (April 2019)
The Philadelphia Inquirer highlights a Penn Medicine and Basser Center study, led by Kim Reiss Binder, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology, which examines PARP inhibitors in patients with BRCA mutations. Read more.
Taking the Uncertainty Out of Interpreting BRCA Variants (March 2019)
JAMA discusses a new resource that may help guide clinical decision-making. Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, and coauthor of the PLOS Genetics paper says, "This is a website that you can go to, put in the variant, and it will give you the classification. Anything that comes through as a variant of uncertain clinical significance in a commercial lab or things that are splice site or missense [mutations] are particularly valuable to have a second look at.” Read more.
Ask the Expert: Senior Genetic Counselor, Dana Clark, Explains BRCA Gene Mutations (March 2019)
Basser Center genetic counselor Dana Farengo Clark, MS, LCGC, helps to explain BRCA mutations and the process of genetic testing and counseling. Read more.
Lead Researcher Discusses Durvalumab/Olaparib Combo in Breast Cancer (January 2019)
Basser Center Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, discusses the role of specific PARP inhibitors in an ongoing breast cancer trial. Read more.
Risk-Reducing Mastectomy in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers (December 2018)
Basser Center Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, discusses the complex issue of risk-reducing mastectomy in BRCA mutation carriers in an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association. Read more.
Blackstone COO Jonathan Gray On Giving To Education, Cancer Research (October 2018)
Basser Center founders Mindy and Jon Gray have a well-deserved spot on Forbes' annual list of top 50 philanthropists. "In total, Gray has given over $120 million in his lifetime, primarily to cancer research and health and education in New York City." Read more.
Evening of Storytelling Speaks to Future of Cancer Research (October 2018)
The Basser Center's Young Leadership Council recently hosted a storytelling event featuring personal stories from three individuals touched by BRCA mutations. Each story was laced with humor and heartache, but they all spoke to the promising future that research will provide for future patients and the newly BRCA-positive population. Kim Reiss Binder, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology Oncology whose research is funded by the Basser Center, is quoted in this article from CURE magazine. Read more.
When Is It Time To Get Preventative Surgeries To Avoid Cancer? (October 2018)
Basser Center Executive Director Susan Domchek, MD, joins KJZZ's The Show for an episode devoted to genetic testing, preventative surgery, and raising awareness of hereditary breast cancer. Listen here.
With CRISPR, Scientists Engineered Nearly 4,000 Mutations of a Breast-Cancer Gene (September 2018)
Using CRISPR, a team assessed 3,893 otherwise unstudied mutations of BRCA1, which normally suppresses cancerous tumors, but can be rendered ineffective when they’re mutated. Susan M. Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, who was not involved in the study, was quoted in The Atlantic calling the work, “a tour de force.” Read more in The Atlantic. Read more on the same topic in The Scientist.
How Men Can Be Affected by the BRCA Gene, Too (September 2018)
Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center, tells the New York Post that while BRCA genes normally “have a protective effect” against cancer, mutations stop those genes from doing their job. As a result, carriers are more likely to develop cancers earlier in life than non-carriers — and more aggressive cancers, too. Domchek and Penn patient Steven Merlin, whose participation in groundbreaking clinical trials using PARP Inhibitor drugs has kept him cancer-free for six years, comment on how BRCA mutations affect men. Read more.
The club where no one has cancer — yet (August 2018)
Basser Young Leadership Council member Suzanne Zupello recently penned this personal piece on the importance of support communities for those with BRCA mutations for The Lily. Read more.
Centenarian Eagles Fan Becomes Social Media Star (August 2018)
The Basser family patriarch, Phil Basser, father to the Center's co-founder Mindy Gray and Basser Global Prize co-founder Shari Potter, is featured in the Jewish Exponent for his century of loving Philadelphia football. Read more.
Pilot Program Offers Free Genetic Testing for Ashkenazi Jews to Detect Cancer Risk (July 2018)
Basser Executive Director, Susan Domchek, MD, explains the recently began BRCA Founder Outreach Study (BFOR) with the Cleveland Jewish News. Read more.
Rucaparib Induces Response in BRCA-Mutated Pancreatic Cancer (July 2018)
Basser Executive Director, Susan Domchek, MD, discusses the challenges of treating pancreatic cancer, the role of BRCA mutations in malignancies other than breast or ovarian cancers, and the broader role of PARP inhibitors for this patient population. Read more at Healio.
At-Home DNA Tests are Changing How Patients See Themselves (July 2018)
WHYY's The Pulse sat down with Dana Clark, MS, LCGC, a genetic counselor in the Basser Center, to learn how these services are affecting decisions and outlooks on health. Listen here.
Free Panel to Explore Living with Inherited Cancer Risk (July 2018)
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on our upcoming panel on hereditary cancer and BRCA in La Jolla, California. Read more.
Beyond BRCA: Examining Links between Breast Cancer, Second Primary Cancer and Inherited Genetic Mutations (May 2018)
Rates of inherited mutations in genes other than BRCA1/2 are twice as high in breast cancer patients who have had a second primary cancer – including, in some cases, different types of breast cancer – compared to patients who have only had a single breast cancer. But the rates of these mutations were still found to be low overall, meaning it’s difficult to assess whether and how these individual mutations may drive the development of cancer. Read more at Penn Medicine.
Using Telemedicine to Bring Genetic Counseling to Community Cancer Care (May 2018)
Genetic counseling for cancer patients has become standard of care at academic medical centers, but patients cared for at community-based medical practices across the United States may not have access to these resources. Video and phone sessions can close that gap and bring genetic counseling to patients who would not otherwise have the chance to receive it, according to a new study from the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center. Read more at Penn Medicine.
Ovarian Cancer Drug Shows Promise in Pancreatic Cancer Patients with BRCA Mutation (May 2018)
A targeted therapy that has shown its power in fighting ovarian cancer in women, including those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, may also help patients with aggressive pancreatic cancer who harbor these mutations and have few or no other treatment options. An international team of researchers led by the Perelman School of Medicine and the Basser Center reported their findings this week in JCO Precision Oncology. Read more at Penn Medicine.
The ‘Jolie Effect’ Was A Game-Changer For Breast Cancer, But It Was Just A Start (May 2018)
Basser Young Leadership Council Co-Chair Erika Stallings contributed this opinion piece to Huffington Post on the future of BRCA testing and on-going challenges, such as difficulties regarding access to genetic counseling and testing. Read more at the Huffington Post.
PARP Drugs Help Some Breast Cancer Patients, But They’re No Magic Bullet (April 2018)
For the more than 155,000 people in the U.S. living with metastatic breast cancer, the wide range of treatment options includes immune-activating agents, molecularly-targeted pills, chemotherapy, hormone agents, newer antibodies, and palliative care, and these choices are not mutually exclusive. Forbes spoke with Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, about how a woman with advanced breast cancer might choose among treatments, and the latest data available on the effectiveness and safety of PARP inhibitors. Read more at Forbes.
PARP-1 May be Key to Effectiveness of PARP Inhibitors, and Now Researchers Can Image It (April 2018)
Penn Medicine researchers – including Basser's Director of Basic Science, Roger Greenberg, PhD, MD – have used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to isolate a key genetic feature that could cause resistance to PARP inhibitors in patients with ovarian cancer – and they’ve also proven they have a way to see that feature using PET imaging. The team found PARP inhibitors – a type of targeted therapy that kills cancer cells with mutations in their DNA repair genes while sparing healthy tissue that does not have the mutations – specifically require the presence of PARP-1 in order to take effect. They also show that a radioactive tracer developed at Penn makes PARP-1 visible during PET scans and may provide a method of measuring PARP-1 in ovarian cancer that complements biopsy. The findings of this multidisciplinary team – which included radiologists, pathologists, and oncologists from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine – were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation this month. Read more at Penn Medicine.
Kravis, Ackman, and Gray Have Some Advice for New Philanthropists (April 2018)
Mindy and Jon Gray, University of Pennsylvania alumni and founders of the Basser Center for BRCA, are featured in a Bloomberg Markets article profiling people in finance who have defined their philanthropy early in their careers. In addition to the Basser Center, the Grays provided the seed money for NYC Kids RISE, which offers college savings accounts for low-income students in New York City. Read more.
At-Home Genetic Testing May Be Convenient, but it Isn't Complete (March 2018)
In an op-ed responding to the FDA's recent decision to allow 23andMe to sell the first direct-to-consumer tests for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, says that while genetic testing can be lifesaving, it must come with all the facts. "The best way to use genetic information to improve your health is to work with your health care team to interpret test results in the context of personal and family history," she writes. Read more.
Genetic Study Makes Testing More Accessible (March 2018)
Trying to find a BRCA gene mutation is like trying to find a spelling error in a very big book. But, the Jewish Exponent reports that researchers from the BRCA Founder Outreach (BFOR) study know which specific sets of words to look for, and they’re hoping that will make a difference to many of Ashkenazi descent. The study will give participants the opportunity to receive simpler access to genetic testing. Susan Domchek, MD, a principal investigator of the study and executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, is quoted. Read more.
The Role of Biomarkers in Patients with Breast Cancer (March 2018)
Susan M. Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, discusses the role biomarkers have in the treatment of patients with breast cancer. Identifying biomarkers in patients early on, such as knowledge of estrogen receptor status, can lead to better treatment plans, Domchek says. Read more.
Think Before Trying Home Breast Cancer Gene Tests, Experts Urge (March 2018)
Genetic counselors, oncologists and other experts are urging consumers to do their homework before sending in saliva samples and allowing their DNA to be screened for certain cancer risks by the company 23andMe. But in a perfect world, a discussion with a medical provider would happen first, before someone decides whether to get tested and which tests to take, said Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA. Read more.
Many Women Mistake Common Symptom of Ovarian Cancer for Indigestion (March 2018)
Healthline reports on recent research showing that many women who experience a bloating feeling on a regular basis are more likely to change their diets than visit their doctors, and in some cases, that could put women at risk of overlooking ovarian cancer symptoms. Ronny Drapkin, MD, an associate professor of Pathology in Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center, is quoted. Read more.
Relearning How to Date After My Double Mastectomy (March 2018)
In a post from New York magazine's The Cut, Basser Young Leadership Council co-chair Erika Stalings reveals her experiences with dating after undergoing a preventive double mastectomy, and her struggles to decide if and when to tell dates about the surgery and her BRCA mutation status. Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, says these issues are becoming increasingly common as more young women undergo genetic testing and counseling. Read more.
F.D.A. Approves First Home Testing for 3 Breast Cancer Mutations, With Caveats (March 2018)
The New York Times featured yesterday's FDA approval of at-home genetic testing for BRCA mutations, while highlighting concerns. Basser Center Executive Director Susan Domchek was interviewed and cautioned that people may experience anxiety when undergoing genetic testing, and recommends that they discuss any concerns with their doctor. Read more at the New York Times, in USA Today, in Cure Magazine, and STAT, where Dr. Domchek writes, "Genetic testing can be lifesaving, but it must come with all the facts — which are mounting by the day — and appropriate professional support to help individuals live and plan for the best chance of a healthy life, no matter what the results reveal. That’s something a mail-order kit just can’t do."
Faith, Fate, and Families (February 2018)
Penn Medicine Magazine's latest issue includes the story of how the Basser Center was founded in memory of Faith Basser, and how BRCA mutations can impact families around the world. Read the full issue here or download the article.
BRCA Breast Cancer Patients Finally Have a Non-Chemotherapy Treatment Option (February 2018)
On January 12, the FDA approved the first oral treatment for breast cancer patients who have inherited mutations in their BRCA genes. “The fact that we have a non-chemotherapy option for patients — they don’t lose their hair, and it has side effects that can be readily managed — it’s really quite a step forward,” says Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, who was involved in the phase 3 clinical trial of the drug Lynparza. Read more.
Phil Basser Celebrates 100 Years with the Eagles (January 2018)
Basser Center co-founder Mindy Gray's family is in the news, thanks to her inspiring father, Phil Basser, whose love of the Eagles has gone viral just before his 100th birthday. Fox News interviewed Phil about how his family is taking him to the upcoming NFC Championship game in Philadelphia as an early birthday present, where he'll hopefully bring the Birds some luck. View his videos on Fox News and Good Morning Football, and read more on Fox News and PhillyVoice.
Individual Knowledge Is Power in Addressing BRCA Gene Mutations (January 2018)
Last week, journalist and best-selling author Joan Lunden moderated a panel of experts, titled, “Knowledge is Power: Understanding and Managing BRCA-Related Cancer Risk.” The program, co-presented by the Basser Center for BRCA, focused on the latest lifesaving information surrounding BRCA-related cancers and what can be done to mitigate risks. Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center and a panelist, is quoted. Read more.
Expert Discusses Promise of Olaparib/Durvalumab Combo in BRCA+ Breast Cancer (January 2018)
During an interview with Targeted Oncology, Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, discussed the evolving treatment landscape for patients with BRCA-related, metastatic breast cancer. Read more.
Breast Cancer Caused by Genetic Mutation Gets First Approved Treatment Through FDA Approval of Olaparib (January 2018)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved olaparib as the first treatment for advanced breast cancer caused by mutations in BRCA genes, in an important step in the fight against inherited cancers. This is an extension of the approval of olaparib from 2014, when it was approved to treat BRCA-related ovarian cancer.
Basser Executive Director Susan Domchek co-led the OlympiAD trials that led to FDA approval of olaparib for the treatment of breast cancer. “Fifty percent of the BRCA patients in this trial were triple negative,” she said. “So all of a sudden, we have a new option for a subset of triple negative patients.” Trials are now underway to see if Lynparza (olaparib) can prevent recurrence if it is given to patients after initial surgery and chemotheraphy, and to see its results in combination with other targeted therapies. Read more at Philly.com.
Olaparib/Durvalumab Combo Effective for BRCA-mutant Breast Cancer (December 2017)
OncLive reports on recent Penn-led research showing that the combination of olaparib and durvalumab demonstrated a disease control rate of 80 percent for pretreated patients with germline BRCA-mutated, HER2- negative metastatic breast cancer. The results were presented earlier this month at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Lead author Susan M. Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, is quoted. Read more.
For Cancer Survivor, the Bell Tolls Loudly (November 2017)
The biennial Basser Jean Bash celebrated five years of progress toward understanding, treating and preventing hereditary cancers. Articles previewing and recapping the event profiled honorees Raquel and Michael Hass, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil. The benefit featured presenters and performers including NBC’s “Today” host Hoda Kotb and Emmy Award-winning singer and songwriter Rachel Platten. Read more.
Can Telomere Length Reveal How Well You’re Aging? (November 2017)
TeloYears is an at-home test that promises to reveal a user's true biological age by measuring telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that wear down over time. Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA, appeared on Good Morning America to discuss results with two users, but advised caution. "Right now, I don't see how this is useful for patients to know what to do with their health. There has to be more study." Read more.
Direct-to-Consumer Testing for Hereditary Cancers ‘Most Helpful’ when Integrated with Established Health Care Practice (October 2017)
In an article from HemOnc Today on the pros and cons of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, Angela Bradbury, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology/Oncology and Medical Ethics & Health Policy, says one of the biggest challenges is many patients don't have access to genetic counselors. "Those patients could see a real advantage of just researching online and getting those results because other options are significant burdens, if they are accessible at all," she says. Read more.
A Pill Might Control Pancreatic Cancer, Even If It Doesn't Cure It (September 2017)
Forbes takes a deep dive into the use of PARP inhibitors in the fight against pancreatic cancer, which features a recently opened trial led by Kim A. Reiss Binder, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology Oncology. Read more.
Why the Breast Cancer Gene You May Never Have Heard of Could Matter (September 2017)
The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles a local woman and her family, who have been affected by cancers caused by a mutation in the PALB2 gene, a gene that works to repair broken strands of DNA. Without PALB2, unrepaired DNA accumulates, potentially leading to uncontrolled growth and proliferation of abnormal cells and an increased risk of cancer. Julia Tchou, MD, PhD, co-director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center, and Angela Bradbury, MD, an assistant professor of Hematology/Oncology and Medical Ethics & Health Policy, are quoted. Read more.
Penn Effort to Expand Trials of Olaparib Leads to New Treatment Options for Patients with Advanced BRCA-Related Breast Cancer (June 2017)
Six years ago an international team of physician scientists known as BRCA-TAC led a charge to advance clinical testing of the PARP inhibitor olaparib in cancer patients with known inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. This June, during the plenary session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, that push came full circle with the presentation of results of the phase III OlympiAD trial demonstrating for the first time that olaparib is superior to chemotherapy in patients with BRCA-related advanced breast cancer.
“Although previous studies suggested olaparib could benefit patients with advanced breast cancers, we are now reporting that olaparib improves progression-free survival better than standard chemotherapy,” said study co-author Susan Domchek, MD, executive director of the Basser Center. Read more at Penn Medicine.
Hope and Hype Around Cancer Immunotherapy (June 2017)
Immunotherapy treatments are on the rise, thanks to recent studies carried out by international researchers. These treatments harnesses the body's own immune system to target and attack a disease, and includes vaccines, antibodies, drugs, and more. The Abramson Cancer Center's Dr. Robert Vonderheide, in collaboration with the Basser Center, is leading vaccine-based trials for the prevention of cancers associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Read more at CNN.
Ethical Dilemmas Arise from Genetic Testing for Cancer (June 2017)
CURE Magazine discusses the complicated issue of genetic testing, with input from the experts on the Basser Center for BRCA's April 25th panel in Manhattan, which included the Center's Executive Director, Dr. Susan Domchek. "Identifying meaningful mutations and using those findings to promote cancer prevention and treatment — without causing harm along the way — will require the nation’s legislative and medical leaders to work through a number of difficult issues."
New $21 Million Gift Puts Basser Center for BRCA at the Forefront of Advancements for Patients At Risk of Inherited Cancers (May 2017)
A new $21 million gift to the Basser Center for BRCA at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania from alumni Mindy and Jon Gray will cement and propel Penn’s preeminence as a leader in research to improve treatment and prevention strategies for hereditary cancers. The gift brings the Grays’ total commitment to $55 million, following their initial $25 million gift that established the Basser Center in 2012, and subsequent gifts to support the Center, which advances BRCA gene mutation-related science around the world. Read more at Penn Medicine and Bloomberg.
In the War Against Cancer, Modesty is Not an Ally (November 2016)
An article from the Toronto Star profiles Steven Narod, MD, FRCPC, FRSC, director of the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit and a senior scientist at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, whose seminal work on BRAC1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes earned him this year's Basser Global Prize. Narod is the first Canadian to receive the annual recognition from The Basser Center for BRCA at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.
Ask the Experts: How to Talk About Family Medical History at Thanksgiving (November 2016)
With the holidays right around the corner, there may be people cringing at the thought of anything resembling politics being discussed at the family table. As an alternative topic, getting together with relatives can be the perfect opportunity to discuss your family medical history. Danielle McKenna, Amanda Brandt and Dana Clark, genetic counselors at Basser Center for BRCA, discuss with Philly.com how best to approach the topic and important questions to ask.
'In Our Genes' Event Raises Research Funds, Builds Community for Those at Increased Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancers (October 2016)
When faced with cancer or any other difficult situation in life, Cure writes that one of the best medicines can be to hear stories and advice from others. This was the key point Susan M. Domchek, MD, made in her closing remarks during last night’s “In Our Genes: An Evening of Storytelling” event in New York City. The event was put on by the Young Leadership Council (YLC) of the Basser Center for BRCA, and featured three speakers who told their stories of learning they — and in one case, a loved one — were positive for a BRCA mutation.
Basser Jean Bash 2015 Raises $8 Million and Launches rag & bone/JEAN x Basser Partnership (November 2015)
Over 1,000 people came together on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 in New York City to Unzip Their Genes at the Basser Jean Bash. The celebration helped raise over $8 million to support the Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center - the first and only center in the world solely dedicated to defeating BRCA-related cancers. Speakers included Robin Roberts from ABC’s “Good Morning America,” singer-songwriter Kara DioGuardi and performers included Freestyle Love Supreme and American Authors. The Basser Jean Bash also launched the limited stock rag & bone/ JEAN x Basser jeans. The jeans boast the Basser Center's distinct logo and are available exclusively at select Bloomingdales and rag & bone retail stores and ecommerce platforms with seven percent of the sale price benefiting the Basser Center.
Local Media Coverage
Are the Kids All Right? When Breast Cancer Runs in the Family (October 2015)
CBS News and HealthDay report on a new study, led by Angela Bradbury, MD, an assistant professor of Medicine and an investigator in the Basser Center for BRCA, which examined the psychosocial development of girls from families with a history of breast cancer or a known genetic risk for it, compared to girls without a family history of the disease. The study found that girls from breast cancer families have higher levels of anxiety about their risk for the disease but seem to adjust just as well as other girls when it comes to general anxiety, depression and overall psychosocial adjustment. The results of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics on October 20, 2015.
Susan Domchek, MD Receives Penn Medicine Award of Excellence (October 2015)
Susan Domchek, Executive Director of the Basser Center for BRCA, received the 2015 William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award. Established in 1996 to honor Dr. Osler, the “Father of Clinical Medicine,” who revolutionized clinical teaching and research in the 1880s at the School of Medicine, the award is granted to a member of the faculty for a body of work, with an emphasis on clinical research, performed predominantly at Penn in the last five years.
Read more about past winners of the Penn Medicine Awards of Excellence.
Basser Center for BRCA Awards $375,000 in National Grants to Support BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Research (October 2015)
The Basser Center for announced $375,000 in new grant funding to support BRCA-focused research projects across the nation. The grants are aimed at advancing the care of patients living with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which houses the Basser Center, will administer the awards. The grants represent the second year of funding under the Basser External Research Grant Program, which supports translational cancer research projects with strong potential to advance rapidly into clinical practice. To date, the Center has awarded over $1.75 million in grant funding through the program.
“The projects funded this year are among the most promising of BRCA-related cancer research anywhere,” said Susan Domchek, MD executive director of the Basser Center for BRCA and the Basser Professor in Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center. “Our colleagues across the country are doing exceptional work to continue providing real hope to at-risk patients, and we are pleased to play a role in ensuring that their research is given every opportunity to be completed, and potentially applied to patient care.”