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. 

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 has been licensed for clinical development.


Aleksei Aksimentiev

Professor, Physics

Mark Anastasio

Department Head, Bioengineering

Donald Biggar Willett Professor, Bioengineering

Rohit Bhargava

Rohit Bhargava

Director, Cancer Center at Illinois

Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering

Stephen Boppart

Interim Director, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute

Director, GSK Center for Optical Molecular Imaging

Jie Chen

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Wawrzyniec Dobrucki

Associate Professor, Bioengineering

Jodi Flaws

Professor, Comparative Biosciences


Viktor Gruev

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

Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Paul Hergenrother

Paul Hergenrother

Deputy Director

Professor, Chemistry

Michael Insana

Professor, Bioengineering

Joseph Irudayaraj

Joseph Irudayaraj

Associate Director for Shared Resources

Professor, Bioengineering

Auinash Kalsotra

Associate Professor, Biochemistry

Benita Katzenellenbogen

Professor, Physiology & Cell Biology

John Katzenellenbogen

Professor, Chemistry

Images of Jongsook Kim Kemper

Jongsook Kemper

Professor, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

David Kranz

Professor Emeritus, Biochemistry

Deborah Leckband

Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Zeynep Madak Erdogan-1

Zeynep Madak Erdogan

Associate Director for Education, Cancer Center at Illinois

Associate Professor, Food Science & Human Nutrition

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

Shuming Nie

Professor, Bioengineering

Michael Oelze

Professor, Computer & Electrical Engineering

Pablo Perez-Pinera

Associate Professor, Bioengineering

Kannanganattu Prasanth

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Supriya Prasanth

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Lawrence Schook

Professor, Animal Sciences

David Shapiro

Professor, Biochemistry

Stephen Sligar

Professor, Biochemistry

Rebecca Smith

Associate Professor, Pathobiology

Pengfei Song

Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Michael Spinella

Professor, Comparative Biosciences

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