Joyce Slingerland, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Director, Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute
Associate Director for Translational Medicine
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Professor
Depts of Medicine and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The ULTA Beauty Award)
Increasing evidence suggests that breast cancers arise from malignant stem cell populations or “cancer stem cells” that survive chemotherapy and radiation therapy leading to recurrence, metastasis and patient death. There is also a strong association between obesity and greater risk and worse outcome from post-menopausal breast cancer, the causes of which are not fully known. Dr. Slingerland’s BCRF supported research has shown that different breast cancer stem cell subgroups co-exist, are driven by different pathways, and differ in drug responses and in the ability to generate metastasis. Her group also found that when breast cancer cells contact fat cells, as they would early during invasion into surrounding breast fat, factors are produced that increase the aggressive stem cell fraction in the cancer and drive metastasis. In 2013-2014, Dr. Slingerland will investigate pathways activated when breast cancer cells encounter fat cells, how these drive metastasis and how they can be blocked. This work may explain the link between increased breast cancer risk and poor outcome associated with obesity and may yield novel strategies for stem cell targeted therapies.
Dr. Slingerland’s past BCRF-funded work showed that when breast cancer stem cells invade into the fat that surrounds normal breast ducts, this causes of proteins (called cytokines) that drive cancer stem cell growth and promote cancer metastasis. In the last six months the researchers have discovered that this is not just true for ER negative breast cancers, but also applies to hormone sensitive ER positive breast cancers also. This work may explain the link between increased breast cancer risk and poor outcome associated with obesity. Ongoing efforts are underway to develop stem cell targeted therapies.
A native of Canada, Dr. Slingerland received her MD from the University of Toronto in 1983, followed by a Fellowship in Internal Medicine with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada. In 1987, she was certified by the American Board in Internal Medicine and in Medical Oncology by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. In August of 2002, Dr. Slingerland came to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as the Director of the Braman Breast Cancer Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC) where she has worked to expand and coordinate research efforts on breast cancer from many disciplines. In addition, she is co-leader of the Breast Cancer Program at SCCC, and a tenured Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.
Dr. Slingerland discovered the cell cycle inhibitor p27 and her research investigates regulation of the G1 to S phase transition and how the cell cycle regulators are disrupted in cancer through aberrant signal transduction. Current work also investigates reversal of antiestrogen resistance in breast cancer through targeted therapies. She has published over 70 articles and reviews in addition to several book chapters and has received numerous awards. Dr. Slingerland continues her medical practice devoted entirely to breast cancer patients at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Jackson Memorial Hospital.