Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FAACR, will receive the William L. McGuire Memorial Lecture Award at the 2021 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), to be held December 7–10. The McGuire Award was established in 1992 to commemorate the significant contributions to breast oncology by Dr. McGuire who, along with Charles A. Coltman, MD, founded SABCS in 1977. The topic of Dr. Olopade’s lecture will be “Heterogeneity of Breast Cancer Genomes: Going Beyond Therapy to Risk Assessment and Prevention.”
Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FAACR
Dr. Olopade is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics and Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medicine. She is a pioneer in the fields of cancer genetics and personalized medicine. Dr. Olopade studies familial types of cancer and molecular mechanisms of tumor progression in high-risk individuals and diverse populations, including mechanisms contributed by genetic and nongenetic factors.
“I am honored to receive this award in memory of Dr. McGuire, who first defined heterogeneity in breast cancer by identifying the subset of women with breast cancer who had a high recurrence rate and could benefit from more aggressive combination chemotherapy,” Dr. Olopade said. “While the estrogen receptor remains the single most important determinant of outcomes in breast cancer, advances in genetic testing and genomics research have propelled us into a new era in precision oncology. We now have the tools to predict and outright prevent the most lethal forms of breast cancer.”
Eliminating Cancer Disparities
In 1992, Dr. Olopade founded the Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic in Chicago, which serves as a critical resource for individuals at high risk for developing breast cancer. As a clinician who regularly treated patients with familial breast cancer, she proposed that both genetics and environmental or lifestyle factors can vary by race or ethnicity and may affect breast cancer incidence.
In 2009, Dr. Olopade published the groundbreaking finding that most tumors in indigenous African women with breast cancer are triple-negative tumors and that this population carries distinct genetic markers associated with accelerated tumor progression. In the United States, triple-negative breast cancer is also more common in Black women than in White women. Dr. Olopade’s subsequent research has illuminated the high prevalence of mutations in Black patients with breast cancer and identified unique mutations across the African diaspora. These findings have deepened the understanding of the genomic landscape and evolutionary trajectory of breast cancer and outcomes among diverse populations, helping to inform more effective approaches that personalize screening, prevention, and treatment.