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July 21, 2003


Winship Cancer Institute Announces New Director of Translational Breast Cancer Research

Atlanta, GA -- Jonathan Simons, MD, Director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, announced the appointment of Ruth O’Regan, MD, as Director of WCI’s Translational Breast Cancer Research Program and Assistant Professor of Hematology and Onoclogy.

Dr. O’Regan comes to WCI from Northwestern University in Chicago where she was an assistant professor of Medicine at Northwestern Hospital specializing in breast cancer. Her areas of research include the evolution of tamoxifen therapy in breast cancer. Dr. O’Regan is studying novel selective estrogen receptor modulators — SERMs — an area in which she has studied under one of the world’s leading authorities, Dr. V. Craig Jordan at Northwestern.

For breast cancers with hormone receptors, cell growth can be activated by estrogen. By blocking these interactions, researchers can stop or at least slow down the growth of tumor cells. SERMs act to block the hormone receptors to prevent growth "messages" from getting to them.

Dr. O’Regan is also examining the effects of new antiestrogens on the growth of endometrial cancer in preclinical models and is currently examining molecular events that may be important in explaining the effects of tamoxifen on the endometrium.

"We are very excited that Dr. O’Regan will be joining our team here at Emory and the Winship Cancer Institute," said Dr. Simons. "She is a valuable addition to our translational research team as well as to our medical staff. Her compassion and dedication to patient-centered care combined with the excellence of her scientific research make Dr. O’Regan the perfect person to lead our Translational Breast Cancer Research Program."

Dr. Fadlo Khuri, Associate Director for Clinical and Translational Research at WCI, has been familiar with Dr. O’Regan’s research for many years. "She is one of today’s brightest stars in the rapidly expanding field of SERMS," said Dr. Khuri. "The work she is conducting in her laboratory, and the collaborations she has developed over the years will contribute to a better understanding of how and why SERMs work in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer, osteoporosis and possibly coronary artery disease. Her study of the biology of breast cancer and the mechanics of resistance and sensitivity to SERMs are on the cusp of clinical application, with a strong possibility for clinically meaningful benefits to women with breast cancer."

Dr. O’Regan is widely published in peer reviewed scientific journals, having published articles such as "The evolution of tamoxifen therapy in breast cancer: selective estrogen receptor modulators and down regulators" in Lancet Oncology, and "Effects of raloxifene after tamoxifen on breast and endometrial cancer growth," in Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

A native of Dublin, Ireland, Dr. O’Regan earned her medical degree at University College in Dublin. She conducted her residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Oncology at Mater Hospital, also in Dublin, before joining the faculty at Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, she won the Compassionate Care Award from the Womens’ Board of Northwestern Hospital as well as NSABP Young Clinical Investigator Award in 2001.

"I am thrilled to be joining the world-class team of cancer professionals at the Winship Cancer Institute," said Dr. O’Regan. "Dr. Simons, Dr. Khuri and others within the Emory and WCI leadership have strategically positioned WCI in development of a first rate cancer research, treatment and prevention program of national and international caliber. This will build on the tremendous strengths of Emory University in basic research, as well as the strengths of The Rollins School of Public Health, the Hodgson School of Nursing, the Emory University School of Medicine and its departments of surgical oncology, urology, pharmacology, biochemistry and many others. WCI is an exciting place to be."

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