The Best of the AACR Journals Collection: Author Profiles
Priscilla K. Brastianos
Title & Affiliation:
Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Director of Central Nervous System Metastases, Divisions of Hematology/Oncology and Neuro-Oncology, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Q: What is your primary area of study/research?
A: I have been committed to translational research in metastases to the central nervous system (CNS) since the beginning of my medical school career. Brain metastases are a common and devastating clinical complication of cancer. As a medical neuro-oncologist and physician scientist, I am building a clinical and translational research program in brain metastases with the objectives to (1) identify novel therapeutic targets through comprehensive genomic characterization and in vitro and in vivo assays of metastasis, (2) accelerate the application of our scientific findings to the clinical setting, and (3) provide specialized multidisciplinary care for patients with brain metastases. The sine qua non of a successful translational program is delivering the best possible care for patients, while translating the latest advancements in science and technology into the clinic to improve the standard of care.
Q: What influenced your decision to embark on a research career?
A: My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 20s, when she was in medical school. She became an incredible physician and practiced medicine even after her diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. Her story of strength and compassion inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer while I was in medical school, and she, sadly, passed away recently from metastatic breast cancer. Her death reminds me every day that we need to find better treatments for patients with metastatic cancer. Through this journey, I have felt very lucky to have been mentored by inspiring physicians and scientists, including William Kaelin (Harvard), David Louis (Harvard), Stuart Grossman (Johns Hopkins), Tracy Batchelor (Harvard), and José Baselga (MSKCC); they consistently demonstrate the importance of scientific integrity in the pursuit of science.
Q; What excites you most about your research area?
A: The most exciting part of what I do is seeing our science translate directly into the clinic. We have initiated several clinical trials based on findings from our laboratory. Seeing patients benefit from our scientific advances is the most rewarding part of my work!
Q: What are your hobbies or passions outside of work?
A: When I’m not in the lab, I am usually jogging along the Charles River in Boston, traveling, or writing poetry.