Skip to content

our Research

Our group is broadly interested in how genetic abnormalities in breast cancer and related malignancies influence tumor biology, and how that biology can, in turn, be exploited to therapeutic advantage.

We address these questions through basic research studies of key cancer drivers including DNA repair defects through BRCA1/2 and related pathways, and transcriptional reprogramming through the p53 gene family. Supporting and complementing these studies are leading-edge analyses of patient-derived precancerous and cancerous tissues. Recent innovative tissue-based studies have led to our discovery of novel cancer drivers, and have provided a unique window on early cancer pathogenesis, intratumoral heterogeneity and tumor progression. Our discoveries in the basic laboratory and through human tumor analysis are being applied in ongoing clinical trials that seek to identify predictive markers of response to specific therapeutics for breast and other cancers. Our ability to work at the interface of basic tumor biology and therapeutic application is strongly supported by our network of collaborators and by the research and clinical infrastructure of the Mass General Cancer Center.

Major Research Topics

Novel drivers of aggressive breast cancer subtypes

Our recent work employing advanced tumor molecular diagnostics has revealed gene fusions as novel drivers of an aggressive breast cancer subset. In a distinct aggressive breast cancer, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), extensive intratumoral heterogeneity is itself a driver that we have characterized through single-cell genomic and transcriptomic analysis. Our longstanding work on the biology of TNBC is supported by the institution-wide Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Program, which integrates basic research, translational and clinical studies together with human tumor propagation and high-throughput drug screening, all focused on overcoming drug resistance and improving outcomes for patients with TNBC.

our funding

Ellisen Lab partners