"If you have something you think is a good idea, stick to it... you have to do something that is going to benefit mankind."
Angela Hartley Brodie, PhD, FAACR, professor emeritus in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and Fellow of the AACR Academy, died June 7, 2017, at the age of 82.
Brodie was an outstanding scientist whose research led to the development of therapies to treat breast cancer. She was instrumental in developing the first selective aromatase inhibitor, now considered among the most important contributions toward treating estrogen-driven breast cancer. By inhibiting the activity of the aromatase enzyme and the subsequent conversion of circulating androgens to estrogen, these inhibitors can counteract the growth and spread of breast cancer. Recent studies conducted by Brodie and her colleagues involved translating this approach of chemically manipulating androgen processing to the treatment of prostate cancer.
Brodie began investigating compounds to inhibit aromatase in the 1970s while at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. She initially worked in a laboratory with her chemist husband, Harry Brodie, PhD, who synthesized the first selective inhibitors, including the compound 4-hydroxyandrostenedione (4-OHA).
Brodie’s research was initially met with skepticism by other scientists, but she continued her work with 4-OHA, guiding its development through clinical trials into a treatment for breast cancer. That aromatase inhibitor was released as formestane in 1994, and was the first new agent designed specifically to treat breast cancer in a decade.
Brodie joined the AACR in 1984. She was an active member, having served as an associate editor (2003-2009) and editorial board member (2010-2015) for Cancer Research, as well as a member of the Women in Cancer Research (WICR) association group since 2000, the Women in Cancer Research Committee (2006-2009), and the AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship Committee (2009-2010).
The AACR inducted Brodie into the inaugural class of Fellows of the AACR Academy in 2013. Her many other honors and awards include the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research (2006), Pharmacia and Upjohn International Award for Excellence in Published Clinical Research (1998), Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction from Susan G. Komen (2000), Charles F. Kettering Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation (2005), Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence from the University System of Maryland (2006), Health Care Heroes Award from The Daily Record (2006), Gregory Pincus Medal from the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research (2007), Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine (2010), and the Pharmacia-American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Award (2012).
Born Sept. 28, 1934, in Oldham, United Kingdom, Brodie graduated from the University of Sheffield. She worked in a blood bank, then as a laboratory research assistant in the Department of Hormone Research at the Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester before receiving her doctorate at the University of Manchester in 1961.
Brodie’s tenure at the University of Maryland began in 1979 and spanned 37 years, until her retirement in 2016. She was a professor of pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and researcher in the Hormone Responsive Cancers Program at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. In honor of her scientific achievements, the medical school is establishing an endowed professorship, the Drs. Angela and Harry Brodie Distinguished Professorship in Translational Cancer Research.