A pioneer in the fields of cancer genetics and personalized medicine, Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FAACR, will receive the William L. McGuire Memorial Lecture Award at SABCS 2021. She will present her lecture, Heterogeneity of Breast Cancer Genomes: Going Beyond Therapy to Risk Assessment and Prevention on Wednesday, December 8, at 11:30 am CT.
“I am honored to receive this award in memory of Dr. McGuire who first defined heterogeneity in breast cancer by identifying the subset of women with breast cancer who had a high recurrence rate and could benefit from more aggressive combination chemotherapy,” Dr. Olopade said. “While the estrogen receptor remains the single most important determinant of outcomes in breast cancer, advances in genetic testing and genomics research have propelled us into a new era in precision oncology. We now have the tools to predict and outright prevent the most lethal forms of breast cancer.”
Dr. Olopade is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics and Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medicine. She studies familial forms of cancers and molecular mechanisms of tumor progression in high-risk individuals and diverse populations, including mechanisms contributed by genetic and non-genetic factors.
Throughout her career, Dr. Olopade has championed the elimination of cancer disparities everywhere. In 1992, she founded the Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic in Chicago, which serves as a critical resource for individuals at high risk for developing breast cancer.
As a clinician who regularly treated patients with familial breast cancer, Dr. Olopade proposed that both genetics and environmental or lifestyle factors can vary by race or ethnicity and affect breast cancer incidence. In 2009, she published the groundbreaking finding that most tumors in indigenous African women with breast cancer are triple-negative tumors, and that this population carried distinct genetic markers associated with accelerated tumor progression.
Triple-negative breast cancer is also more common in African American women compared to white women in the United States. Her subsequent research has illuminated the high prevalence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in African patients with breast cancer and identified unique mutations across the African Diaspora. These findings have deepened the understanding of the genomic landscape and evolutionary trajectory of breast cancer and outcomes among diverse populations and helped to inform more effective approaches to personalize screening, prevention, and treatment.
“Dr. Olopade has been a leader in the field of cancer genetics as well as diversity,” said SABCS Co-Director Virginia Kaklamani, MD. “Her research on the role of genetics as well as environment in the development of breast cancer in Black women has led to a better understanding. But beyond her important research contributions Dr. Olopade has been a great colleague and mentor. We are honored that she has accepted the McGuire Memorial Lecture Award.”
The McGuire Award was established in 1992 to commemorate the significant contributions to breast oncology by Dr. McGuire who, along with Charles A. Coltman, MD, founded SABCS in 1977.