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Our Research Community 2017-05-24T23:07:21+00:00

Our Research Community

HeritX is collaborating with leading experts across science, medicine, and technology. Each HeritX-supported research and development program to prevent inherited BRCA cancer has been carefully selected after exploring and exchanging ideas with more than 200 research groups worldwide.

To ensure the best possible scientific strategies and decisions, HeritX brought together a Scientific Advisory Board, SAB, that not only includes world leaders in academic research but also in biopharmaceutical drug development. It is the expertise and close collaboration across both fields that is essential to turn research ideas into FDA-approved preventive therapies.

Each project assessed by HeritX is reviewed by the SAB and other independent experts from a dual perspective: its scientific merit as well as its promise for translating into an FDA-approved preventive therapy.

To foster collaboration and maximize the speed of progress to prevention, HeritX has created the International Coalition to Prevent Inherited Cancer, IC-PIC. Each member of the IC-PIC has brought forward a compelling idea how to prevent inherited BRCA cancer, is determined to prevent cancer, and is an internationally recognized expert.

Lawrence Brody, PhD (Chair) – Chief Scientific Officer of the National Institutes of Health Center for Inherited Disease Research and Director of the Division of Genomics and Society at the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH. In the 1990s, Dr. Brody’s lab was among the first to discover that BRCA mutations cause increased risk of cancer beyond just breast cancer.

Alan Ashworth, PhD – President of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-leader of the Center for BRCA Research, University of California San Francisco. Dr. Ashworth is a pioneer in BRCA research who was a member of the team that discovered BRCA2 in 1995. He also developed the concept of synthetic lethality against BRCA cancer that led to the development of PARP inhibitors, the first treatments specifically targeted to BRCA cancer. 

Ora Karp Gordon, MD – Director of Medical Genetics and Integrative Medicine at the Roy and Patricia Disney Cancer Center and an associate professor of medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Godron was also the co-author of Positive Results: Making the Best Decisions When You’re at High Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer, the first consumer guidebook on BRCA cancers.

Grant Williams, MD – Former Deputy Director of the Division of Oncology for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Williams’ expertise includes the development and evaluation of cancer therapies and their FDA approval.

Claude Nicaise, MD –  Senior Vice President, Strategic Product Development & Global Regulatory Affairs, Alexion Pharmaceuticals. (Ret.) Dr. Nicaise’s expertise includes the clinical development and regulatory approval plans for new therapies in cancer and orphan diseases. 

David Parkinson, MD, PhD – CEO of Essa Pharmaceuticals and Venture Advisor with New Enterprise Associates, a leading healthcare/technology venture capital firm. Dr. Parkinson’s expertise is in research and development of new oncology drugs and in healthcare R&D. His past experience includes tenures with Novartis Oncology and Amgen where —as Global Head of Translational Medicine— he was responsible for translating preclinical research concepts into clinical drug development programs for multiple breakthrough cancer therapies.

Scientific Advisory Board Alumni:

Melissa Ashlock, MD – Former Scientific Head of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Dr. Ashlock led the most successful venture philanthropy project in history. 

Ralph Scully, MBBS, PhD – Associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Scully brings more than 20 years of BRCA research to the IC-PIC team and is currently working to identify novel assays for BRCA function. His pioneering work in 2000 identified that inherited BRCA cancer is triggered by a lack in double-strand DNA repair – a finding that laid the foundation for several HeritX research collaborations to prevent these cancers.

Peter Campbell, MD, PhD – Head of Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutation and Senior Group Leader at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Dr. Campbell’s work on the Cancer Genome Project and The Cancer Genome Atlas make him ideally suited to bring big data analysis and genomic analysis to the IC-PIC team. His current work includes understanding cancer drivers, mutational signatures and identifying the earliest precancerous cellular changes in a variety of cancers, including BRCA cancers. Targeting these changes could lead to preventive therapies for inherited BRCA cancers.

Joanne Kotsopoulos, PhD – Associate professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute. Dr. Kotsopoulos had dedicated her career to studying BRCA breast and ovarian cancer with a focus on prevention, making her and ideal member of the IC-PIC team. In 2014, she and her collaborators in Dr. Steven Narod’s world-class research team discovered a compound that was able to increase the activity of the functional BRCA gene copy in BRCA mutation carriers – a potential avenue to prevent inherited BRCA cancers.

Shyam Sharan, PhD –Professor of medicine (hematology/oncology), UCSF; Director, Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit, Co-leader of the Center for BRCA Research, and Leader, Developmental Therapeutics Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Sharan is an expert not only in BRCA and cancer genetics but also in using mouse models to study BRCA variants of unknown significance, early detection and prevention.

Pamela Munster, MD –Professor of medicine at UCSF, Director of the Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit and co-leader of the Center for BRCA Research, Leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Munster is the clinical member of our IC-PIC team bringing the perspective of patients and the clinic not only from her perspective as an oncologist and clinical trials expert but also as a BRCA carrier and breast cancer survivor herself.