Benita S. Katzenellenbogen, PhD
Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Cell and Structural Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Play for P.I.N.K. Award)
Using large numbers of human breast tumor samples, Dr. Katzenellenbogen’s group has found that the protein 14-3-3ζ is associated with early time to cancer recurrence and distant metastasis, and that its reduction decreased cancer aggressiveness. In addition to 14-3-3ζ, they have identified a network of several key interacting partner proteins associated with lack of response to endocrine therapies and chemotherapies (14-3-3ζ, FOXM1, and MAP kinases) in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and also estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancers, due to their ability to elicit expansion of the cancer stem cell population . Therefore, targeting these proteins should enhance the effectiveness of endocrine and chemotherapies. In the coming year they will continue investigating how these proteins increase therapy-resistant cancer stem cells, and will also investigate ways in which they can block these factors and their interactions to prevent development of therapy resistance.
Dr. Benita Katzenellenbogen’s group is working to restore tumor sensitivity to endocrine and chemotherapeutic agents and reduce risk of breast cancer recurrence. They have found that the network of FOXM1, 14-3-3ζ, and MAP protein kinases elicits expansion of the cancer stem cell population to engender therapy resistance. They have investigated how these proteins increase therapy-resistant cancer stem cells and they have shown that inhibiting these factors prevents the development of therapy resistance and can thereby improve the effectiveness of breast cancer treatments.
Benita Katzenellenbogen is Swanlund Professor of Physiology, Cell and Structural Biology, and director of a breast cancer research group at the University of Illinois and University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign. She is an internationally known endocrinologist and cancer researcher and has been a key scientist in understanding the biology of estrogen receptors and in elucidating mechanisms by which antiestrogens and SERMs, such as Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, are effective in controlling breast cancer. The work of her research group has most recently involved the development of selective hormonal agents for breast cancer treatment and prevention.
The quality and impact of Professor Katzenellenbogen's scholarly achievements are extraordinary. Since joining the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1971, she has published over 250 research articles, has contributed 30 chapters in books, and has co-edited a text on hormone-dependent cancers.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, honors and special fellowships from governmental, private and academic institutions including the MERIT Award (1991-1999) from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the Jill Rose Award for outstanding research from The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Ernst Oppenheimer Award and Roy O. Greep Lecture Award of The Endocrine Society, the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the National Scholar Award from the American Association of University Women.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recently served as President of The Endocrine Society, the world's largest professional society representing approximately 10,000 endocrinologists. She has been active on government scientific review panels of the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society, and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. She directs an active research unit that has trained over 70 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists, many of whom are leading distinguished careers in academia, governmental agencies, and the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry.