African American woman receiving mammogram, with female Asian tech. NCI image, Rhoda Baer (Photographer)

Breast cancer mortality rates on Chicago’s South Side, particularly those in underserved populations of African ancestry, are among the nation’s highest. Despite more than two decades of significant advances in cancer research, there has been only modest progress in closing the breast cancer mortality gap between Black and White women in Chicago. Under the leadership of breast cancer geneticist Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, a team of researchers is working to secure a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop promising new ways to improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention of breast cancer and to promote health equity. 

The planned UChicago Interdisciplinary Breast Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) will build off the foundation laid by the P20 Disparities SPORE Planning Grant, which was awarded in 2018. The planned SPORE comprises three translational research projects, each of which is aimed at personalizing risk prediction for prevention and treatment of aggressive breast cancers, predicting response to treatment, and reducing deaths from metastases. The SPORE will be supported by an administrative core; a biospecimen and pathology core; an analytics core; and a genomics and informatics core. A community outreach and engagement component will allow the team to maximize the impact of the research by uncovering emerging cancer issues in underserved communities and developing evidence-based interventions. 

Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD (principal investigator)
Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine; Dean for Global Health; Director, Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics

Mengjie Chen, PhD 
Assistant Professor of Medicine; Director, Center for Informatics Research

Dezheng Huo, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences; Associate Director, Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics & Global Health

Gregory Karczmar, PhD
Professor of Radiology; Committee on Medical Physics and the College

Ted Karrison, PhD
Research Professor of Public Health Sciences; Director, Biostatistics Consulting Lab

Kay Macleod, PhD
Associate Professor in the Ben May Department of Cancer Research

Ray Moellering, PhD
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Jeffery Mueller, DO
Associate Professor of Pathology

Rita Nanda, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine; Director, Medical Oncology Breast Program

Iris Romero, MD
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

Deepa Sheth, MD 
Assistant Professor of Radiology Breast Imaging