AACR-Janssen Fellowship in Cancer Interception Research
The AACR-Janssen Fellowship in Cancer Interception Research represents a joint effort to encourage and support a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological research in the field of cancer interception, which encompasses the areas of prevention, early detection, and early intervention, and to establish a successful career path in this field.
Jason J. Northey, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Valerie Weaver Laboratory
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Mitigating the biophysical implications for breast cancer risk
Scientific Statement of Research
Mammographic density and BRCA1 mutation are strong risk factors for breast cancer. Prevention methods, such as tamoxifen treatment and prophylactic mastectomy, are poorly tolerated necessitating more tractable strategies. Recent data revealed that women with BRCA1 mutation have increased RANK expression, causing the proliferation of breast epithelial progenitors. Dr. Northey has demonstrated that the activation of mechanical signaling in the mouse mammary gland similarly causes an expansion of epithelial progenitors, and that human breast tissue with high density has a stiffer matrix and elevated RANKL. Therefore, he proposes that the density-linked risk to malignancy is fostered by matrix stiffness that enhances RANKL activity to drive epithelial progenitor expansion. He will examine the biophysical properties of tissues derived from prophylactic mastectomy and mouse models to establish associations between RANKL signaling, matrix stiffness and progenitor activity with an aim to provide preclinical evidence that breast cancer risk can be mitigated through RANKL inhibition.
Dr. Northey received his doctorate degree from McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 2013, where he studied the process of metastasis with an emphasis on oncogenic signal transduction pathways and the role of TGFß as a tumor promoter in advanced stages of breast cancer. He then joined the research group of Dr. Valerie Weaver at the University of California, San Francisco as a postdoctoral fellow. He currently investigates the influence of extracellular matrix stiffness and high cellular mechano-signaling on epithelial progenitor activity and breast cancer initiation with an overarching goal to develop new strategies for breast cancer prevention.
Acknowledgement of Support
The AACR-Janssen Fellowship will ensure support for this critical research, which endeavors to identify new and effective strategies for prevention in women with high risk for breast cancer. It will also further my professional development as a productive scientist with a proclivity for inquiries that directly impact patient outcomes.
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