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UNC Breast Cancer SPORE Cores include Core A: Tissue Procurement & Pathology, Core B: Genomics, Biostatistics & Bioinformatics and Core C: Administration.

Core A: Tissue Procurement & Pathology

Core Co-Directors:

Leigh Thorne, MD

C. Ryan Miller, MD, PhD


Breast cancer-specific efforts that have and will support SPORE aims include centralized tissue and specimen banking, receipt and processing of breast-related human specimens including: freshly procured, snap-frozen and formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) block specimens, preparation of tissue microarrays (TMAs), cell microarrays, morphological evaluation and morphology-based assays (immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, in-situ hybridization, and fluorescence in-situ hybridization), assay development & training, and digital imaging and image analysis for spatial quantification of molecular analytes in intact specimens.The UNC Breast Cancer SPORE Tissue Procurement & Pathology Core (TPP) Facility is a multifunctional facility, comprised of two parts – Tissue Procurement and Translational Pathology. This Core provides centralized, quality controlled, quality assured procurement, processing, analysis, storage and distribution of normal and malignant breast tissue, blood specimens and other human specimens in support of basic science, translational, genomic, population and clinical trial cancer research. In addition to tissue and blood procurement services, the facility performs extraction of high quality DNA from whole blood, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, buccal smears and mouth rinses and immortalization of breast cancer patient lymphocytes. The Lineberger Data Warehouse (Core B), an Oracle-based, customized user-friendly database, operating on an honest broker model to protect identity and confidentiality, provides the infrastructure to monitor and survey each specimen and associated information. This provides a coordinated system of quality control, sample tracking and distribution of specimens to appropriate investigators. Both the procurement and utilization of breast cancer and control tissues increase substantially in 2010.

Core B: Genomics, Biostatistics & Bioinformatics


Charles Perou, PhD

Joseph Ibrahim, PhD

Steve Marron, PhD


Although the traditional approach to identifying cancer-causing genetic alterations and interactions has been focused on single genes or proteins, we increasingly recognize that alterations of biological processes involve coordinated changes in the expression of dozens or hundreds of genes, or in the activity of multiple signaling pathways. With the availability of the complete sequence of the human and mouse genomes, experimentalists can now use global approaches that simultaneously examine multitudes of genes at once. In addition, the ability to collect these rich data from clinical specimens using automated analysis of images, or proteomic approaches to the kinome, is also rapidly growing. These developments necessitate the integration of genetics, genomics and proteomics, with pathology and clinical oncology research. To manage and analyze these complex datasets, translational researchers must be facile with bioinformatics, statistics, and biostatistics. In response to these needs, the UNC Breast SPORE has developed Core B, the Genomics, Biostatistics, and Bioinformatics shared resource. Under the experienced leadership of the SPORE Co-PI Charles Perou (Genetics), Dr. Joe Ibrahim (Biostatistics) and Dr. Steve Marron (Statistics), Core B brings together under one roof three critical services – Genomic assays (DNA microarrays, mRNAsequencing and gene expression profiling using FFPE RNA and the Nanostring platform), a robust Bioinformatics computing environment, and expertise in Biostatistics and Statistics – and focuses these resources on translational breast cancer research. All proposed SPORE Projects (1-5) will work with Core B.

The Core B services are funneled into this core through three UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) shared resources – namely the Genomics Core Facility, the Bioinformatics Core, and the Biostatistics Core. In all of these LCCC Cores, the studies of Breast SPORE investigators have spurred the development of methods and equipment upgrades that have benefited and stimulated other Cancer Center research. By supporting key personnel in these LCCC Cores, the UNC Breast SPORE is assuring priority service and performance. Dr. Perou’s expertise and experience with these services, and his leadership of the Cancer Center’s Genomics & Bioinformatics Cores, together with Dr. Marron and Dr. Ibrahim’s experience as the LCCC Biostatistics Core leader, means that Core B is integral to this Breast SPORE, integrated into the Cancer Center structure, and poised to provide priority services for Breast SPORE investigators.

Core C: Administration


Shelton Earp, MD

Charles Perou, PhD

Lisa Carey, MD, ScM


Under the direction of Drs. Shelton Earp, Charles Perou, and Lisa Carey, SPORE PI and Co-PIs, the Administration Core supports the UNC Breast Cancer SPORE’s overall scientific/ translational goals by providing leadership and, with the help of superb staff, day-to-day administration. The Core organizes intra and inter-SPORE interactions; administrative/scientific oversight of all research projects, cores, and developmental programs; interaction with NCI and the SPORE program; and planning and evaluation activities. This Core also monitors SPORE expenditures and addresses grant management issues. Like the SPORE itself, the Administration Core blends experienced and stable leadership with new expertise, energy, and perspective. Because the SPORE PI Dr. Earp is also Cancer Center Director, this Administration Core links the Breast SPORE to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and its other large translational efforts (e.g. DoD Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence, Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, the Cancer Genome Atlas), as well as to the University, School of Medicine, and Hospital administration.