Mentor: Patty Spears
Patty is a 20-year breast cancer survivor and cancer research advocate. She was diagnosed with locally advanced breast cancer at 40 and after neoadjuvant chemo, surgery and radiation, participated in a HER2 vaccine clinical trial. Patty has concentrated her advocacy in clinical trials serving as an advocate on the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) and the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee (BCSC). She is also Associate Group Chair for Advocacy of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (NCTN) as well as Chair of the Alliance Patient Advocate Committee. Ms. Spears is currently working as a scientific research manager and patient advocate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she leads the UNC Lineberger Patient Advocates for Research Council (PARC) and the UNC Breast SPORE Advocates. At UNC she focuses on communicating science and clinical research to the public and facilitating the engagement of patients with basic and clinical researchers. She also has an interest in patient reported outcome measurements (PROMs) in drug development.
Scientist: Cynthia Ma, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Ma is a physician scientist with a research focus in breast cancer biomarker and targeted therapeutics development. Dr. Ma received her medical degree from Beijing Medical University and earned her PhD in developmental biology from University of Cincinnati. She completed her post-doctoral training at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina and her fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She has been on the faculty at Washington University since 2005. She is the Clinical Director of the Breast Cancer Program in the Section of Medical Oncology, Division of Oncology at Washington University.
She has designed and conducted a number of mechanism-based early phase trials of novel agents, including palbociclib, neratinib, among others, in patients with resistant breast cancer. She led a phase II trial of neratinib for patients with metastatic HER2 mutated breast cancer (MutHER trial) and demonstrated the activity of neratinib in this patient population. In collaboration with NCI and CTEP, she contributed to the development of several small molecule inhibitors, including MK2206 and temsirolimus, which target the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in overcoming endocrine resistance. She is the study chair for the ongoing phase III Alliance trial A011106 (ALTERNATE trial) to validate neoadjuvant biomarker endpoint as surrogate markers of long-term outcome and to investigate endocrine resistance mechanisms for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Her laboratory has focused on biomarkers and resistance mechanisms for agents that target cell cycle and PI3K pathway through analysis of clinical specimens and preclinical studies using breast cancer cell lines and patient-derived xenograft models.