Researcher Spotlight – Joan S. Brugge, PhD

In estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, the most common form of breast cancer, tumor cells make ER and estrogen signals through this receptor to promote tumor growth. In contrast, in non-cancerous breast tissue, breast cells can be ER-positive, but they do not grow in response to estrogen. The ‘switch’ that converts estrogen into a growth-promoting factor in ER-positive cells has not been identified. Understanding how this switch happens could shed light on how ER-positive breast cancer is initiated and, ultimately, how to prevent it. Dr. Joan Brugge and her team are developing breast ‘mini-organs’, termed organoids, to allow for the study of ER-positive breast cells in the lab. For complete details on her research, visit