Breast Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women – with almost 13% of all U.S. women getting diagnosed with the disease at least once in their life (about 1% of all breast cancer diagnoses are in men). Breast cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in the breast tissue, and a number of factors may cause cancer to occur, including family history, inherited genes, hormones (particularly estrogen and progestin), former cancer treatment, and nutrition. 

Though cancer research has made huge strides over the past few decades in the prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer, there is still much to investigate to truly understand and eradicate this disease. The Cancer Center at Illinois is home to a large collaborative of breast cancer researchers, working together and crossing disciplines to understand the causes of breast cancer, improve diagnostics, create more effective treatments with fewer side effects, and ultimately, save lives. 

Recently, CCIL scientists discovered ErSO, a breast cancer therapy that killed 95-100% of cancer cells in mouse models of human estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancers and their metastases in bone, brain, liver and lungs. Created by the labs of Paul Hergenrother and David Shapiro, ErSO was licensed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals, fast-tracking the drug to human clinical trials.


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Aleksei Aksimentiev

Professor, Physics

Mark Anastasio

Department Head, Bioengineering

Donald Biggar Willett Professor, Bioengineering

Rohit Bhargava

Director, Cancer Center at Illinois

W. W. Grainger Chair, Bioengineering

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Stephen Boppart

Interim Director, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute

Director, GSK Center for Optical Molecular Imaging

Jie Chen Headshot

Jie Chen

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

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Wawrzyniec Dobrucki

Associate Professor, Bioengineering

Jodi Flaws Headshot

Jodi Flaws

Professor, Comparative Biosciences

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Viktor Gruev

Program Leader, Cancer Measurement Technology & Data Science (CMD)

Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Paul Hergenrother Headshot

Paul Hergenrother

Deputy Director

Professor, Chemistry

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Michael Insana

Professor, Bioengineering

Image of Joseph Irudayaraj

Joseph Irudayaraj

Associate Director for Shared Resources

Professor, Bioengineering

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Auinash Kalsotra

Associate Professor, Biochemistry

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Prasanth Kannanganattu

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

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Benita Katzenellenbogen

Professor, Physiology & Cell Biology

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John Katzenellenbogen

Professor, Chemistry

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Jongsook Kemper

Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

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David Kranz

Professor Emeritus, Biochemistry

Deborah Leckband

Deborah Leckband

Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Zeynep Madak Erdogan

Zeynep Madak Erdogan

Associate Director for Education, Cancer Center at Illinois

Associate Professor, Food Science & Human Nutrition

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Catherine Murphy

Interim Director, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology

Larry R. Faulkner Endowed Chair, Chemistry

Erik Nelson

Erik Nelson

Program Leader, Cancer Discovery Platforms (CDP)

Associate Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

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Shuming Nie

Professor, Bioengineering

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Michael Oelze

Professor, Computer & Electrical Engineering

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Pablo Perez-Pinera

Associate Professor, Bioengineering

Image of Supriya Prasanth

Supriya Prasanth

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Image of Lawrence Schook

Lawrence Schook

Professor, Animal Sciences

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David Shapiro

Professor, Biochemistry

Image of Stephan Sligar

Stephen Sligar

Professor, Biochemistry

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith

Associate Professor, Pathobiology

Image of Pengfei Song

Pengfei Song

Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Headshot of Michael Spinella

Michael Spinella

Professor, Comparative Biosciences

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Emad Tajkhorshid

Professor, Biochemistry

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Bioengineering, Physics, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Cell & Developmental Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry, Food Science & Human Nutrition, Animal Sciences, Computer Science, Pathobiology, Comparative Biosciences