There are about three million women in the U.S. diagnosed with invasive breast cancer currently. The five year survival rate for patients with local disease is 99%, which drops to 23% for those with distant metastasis at diagnosis. This has made it a priority task to understand the early events in breast tumor initiation and discover the disease at early stages. The goal of my research is to find out what type of cells carrying what genetic changes would initiate breast tumors and eventually develop into breast cancer. Single mammary stem cell can regenerate an entire mammary gland. I do genetic manipulations in these stem cells to study the gene functions in mammary gland morphogenesis and breast tumor initiation. .
These studies will identify potential mechanisms of breast tumor initiation, which will help the vulnerable population to avoid the risks that will result in breast cancer. The studies will also provide information to design novel therapeutic strategies to improve the quality of life of the patients. With the guidance from both my basic mentor and my clinical mentor, and the immersion in the CPMM education program, I will develop new research projects centered on the clinical needs.