Mentor: Debbie Denardi
Debbie has been screened for breast cancer every 6 months since she was 27 years old due to her family history of breast cancer. Her mother and 3 of her sisters died after a breast cancer diagnosis in the ‘70s. They were all very young (40-45 years old). This family history was reported to every doctor she visited, but no doctor or nurse advised her to get tested for hereditary cancer. Finally, in 2010 when she was 48 years old and after 4 months of a clean mammogram and ultrasound, she was diagnosed with TNBC and a BRCA1 mutation.
Since her diagnosis and lack of education about hereditary cancers, she has been learning as much as she can to educate individuals and families about hereditary cancer. She started her volunteer work with FORCE (Facing Hereditary Cancer Empowered) and has served as a peer support leader in S. Florida since 2012. She also serves as the Treasurer for FORCE’s Board. During the first few years of her advocacy, she attended conferences and continued her local support. In 2018, she had the opportunity to start a new phase of her career and education in advocacy.
Scientist: Jennifer Xavier, Ph.D.
Jennifer Xavier, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of Research, Institute of Precision Medicine, and Research Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Xavier joined the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 after ten years of post-doctorate research focusing on pharmacology, genetics, oncology and precision medicine. Dr. Xavier trained at St Jude Research Hospital and the Ontario Cancer Institute before joining Eli Lilly and Company where she was a Research Scientist and group leader in Investigational Toxicology. Prior to her appointment at the University of Pittsburgh Dr. Xavier was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine where her research involved validating novel drug targets and disease models in oncology, and leading the divisions biorepository. Dr Xavier is an integral member of the Lee Oesterreich research team at Pitt where she studies endocrine resistant breast cancer with a focus on validation of novel drug targets in metastatic disease. Dr Xavier oversees biospecimens research in the Lee Oesterreich laboratory and leads the development of a patient derived organoid resource in her role with the Institute for Precision Medicine.