Benita Katzenellenbogen, PhD
If not for BCRF/PFP, we would not have discovered that FOXM1 stimulates breast cancer growth, metastasis, and therapy resistance, and that blocking FOXM1 could improve patient response to treatments.
Titles and Affiliations
Departments of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Cell and Developmental Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Areas of Focus
- Tumor Biology
Identifying targets for the development of drugs that suppress the growth of aggressive breast cancers and improve breast cancer outcomes.
Estrogen receptor (ER)-positive and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes can develop resistance to treatments and progress and metastasize. The protein FOXM1, which is expressed at high levels in many breast tumors, plays a role in breast cancer progression, resistance to endocrine and other cancer therapies, and metastasis. Dr. Katzenellenbogen aims to develop FOXM1 inhibitors to impede tumor growth and metastasis and expand treatment strategies for aggressive breast cancers.
Progress Thus Far
Dr. Katzenellenbogen has developed and optimized FOXM1 inhibitors that are very effective in suppressing the growth and metastasis of ER-positive and TNBC with high levels of FOXM1 activity. The inhibitors synergize with CDK4/6 inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat advanced ER-positive breast cancer. The inhibitors also block the tumor-promoting activity of FOXM1 in other aggressive cancers, such as ovarian, melanoma, and multiple myeloma in laboratory experiments.
Dr. Katzenellenbogen is now testing combination drug treatments with FOXM1 inhibitors and other standard-of-care agents that can act synergistically to inhibit tumor growth, block cancer recurrence, and reverse drug resistance.
Benita Katzenellenbogen is Swanlund Professor of Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology, and director of a breast cancer research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an internationally known endocrinologist and cancer researcher and has been a key scientist in understanding the biology of estrogen receptors and in elucidating mechanisms by which antiestrogens and SERMs, such as Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, are effective in controlling breast cancer. The work of her research group has most recently involved the development of selective hormonal agents for breast cancer treatment and prevention.
Since joining the University of Illinois, she has published over 350 research articles, contributed 30 chapters in books, and co-edited a text on hormone-dependent cancers. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from governmental and private institutions including the MERIT Award (1991-1999) from the National Cancer Institute, Jill Rose Award from The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Ernst Oppenheimer Award, Roy O. Greep Lecture Award, and Koch Lifetime Achievement Award of The Endocrine Society, Distinguished Scientist Award from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and National Scholar Award from the American Association of University Women.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and previously served as President of The Endocrine Society. She has been active on government scientific review panels of the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. The research unit she directs has trained approximately 100 graduate students and postdoctoral and visiting scientists.