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: Isaac Chan, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Isaac Chan is a physician-scientist who is dedicated to eliminating mortality associated with metastatic breast cancer. During his MD/PhD training at University of North Carolina and medical oncology fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, he developed the tools to execute a bench to bedside research vision that probes the relationship between breast cancer metastasis and the tumor environment. His research focuses 1) understanding how metastatic tumor cells can grow in distant organs and 2) discovering novel drug targets that activate a patient’s own immune cells to target metastatic cancer lesions. He chose UT Southwestern to launch his lab because of its strong laboratory-based history and foundation and the innumerable opportunities to apply basic science knowledge to clinical practice. In parallel to his research efforts, he continues to see patients, who inform and inspire his work in the lab. Outside of medicine, his interests include spending time with family and friends, cooking, and reading biographies and books on American history.