CRI Funded Scientists

Michael Papanicolaou, PhD, CRI-Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Area of Research: Breast Cancer

Dr. Michael Papanicolaou is researching the role of clonal hematopoiesis (CH), the expansion of mutated immune cells, in the context of breast cancer metastasis. CH is associated with aging and is found in 25 percent of solid tumor patients. CH is linked to an increase in cancer mortality. The influence of CH on cancer relapse is not yet fully understood, however, prompting Dr. Papanicolaou’s investigation into its role in breast cancer metastasis. 

Breast cancer ranks among the most common female cancers, causing 45,000 deaths annually in the US alone. Metastasis, the spread of cancer to distant organs, poses a significant risk for breast cancer patients. A five-year relative-survival rate of 29 percent is seen in patients with metastatic breast cancer as compared to a 99 percent survival rate for non-metastatic patients. Dr. Papanicolaou strongly believes that CH in breast cancer contributes to metastasis and disease relapse. 

His hypothesis suggests that CH leads to a pro-inflammatory and immune-suppressive state, rendering organs vulnerable to relapse. Dr. Papanicolaou aims to understand how CH fuels the immune contexture in metastatic sites providing crucial insights for developing immune based therapies as well as establishing a biomarker for patient progression and response. 

Projects and Grants

Interrogating the impact of age-related clonal hematopoiesis on breast cancer dormancy and metastatic relapse 

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