UNC Lineberger breast cancer researcher wins ASCO foundation grant

Katherine Reeder-Hayes, MD, MBA, Msc, a UNC Lineberger member and a clinical assistant professor in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, won a Career Development Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She was one of 11 clinical investigators chosen to receive the three-year award, which goes to researcher-physicians to help them build independent clinical research programs.

A UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center breast cancer physician-researcher has won a $200,000 award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation to study how breast cancer patients and their doctors are using genetic information to make treatment decisions.

Katherine Reeder-Hayes, MD, MBA, Msc, a UNC Lineberger member and a clinical assistant professor in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, won a Career Development Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She was one of 11 clinical investigators chosen to receive the three-year award, which goes to researcher-physicians to help them build independent clinical research programs.

Specifically, Reeder-Hayes said she plans to use the award to study how real-world patients are using a particular gene expression profiling test that’s designed to help doctors and patients make decisions about whether patients will benefit from chemotherapy. 

In the study, she and her collaborators plan to use data on a diverse population of cancer patients across North Carolina to look at how uptake of the test varies by factors like age, race and provider location. They also plan to compare the treatment plans for patients who got tested and patients who didn’t in order to understand the impact of testing on chemotherapy use. And finally, they will measure breast cancer recurrence and survival among tested and untested women.

“We’re interested in understanding what factors are driving decisions about whether women get the gene expression profiling test or not, and whether there differences by age, race, by where they live and get their care,” she said. “We then want to follow the story to see whether they get chemotherapy or not, and then to see whether the disease comes back.”

The research effort to understand the value and use of genomic information in breast cancer treatment will be cutting-edge, said Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, director of the Cancer Outcomes Research Program at UNC Lineberger, an associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology, and Reeder-Hayes’ mentor for the award. 

“Dr. Reeder-Hayes is an outstanding emerging researcher, with training in medical oncology, health services research, and big data methodology,” Basch said. “This unique combination positions her ideally to address major questions in breast cancer using data sources of growing importance in cancer research: large databases drawn from cancer registries, insurance claims, and electronic health records.”

Reeder-Hayes will be recognized with other award recipients during the Grants and Awards Ceremony at the 2015 ASCO annual meeting, which is being held through Tuesday in Chicago.

Other UNC investigators have also been recognized by the foundation.

Second-year fellow Adam Belanger, MD, received the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO's Young Investigator Award. The one-year grant of $50,000 provides research funding to promising physicians to support the transition from fellowship to faculty appointment, encourage continued interest in clinical cancer research and assist them in their careers as both physicians and researchers. 

Two UNC cancer researchers have also been honored for submitting outstanding abstracts to the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Emily Guerard, MD, and Stephanie Wheeler, PhD, MPH, have been announced as recipients of 2015 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Merit Awards.