Faculty Advisor: Michael Gould


Susceptibility to breast cancer involves both genetic and environmental components acting alone and interacting with each other. While inherited components of breast cancer control at least 30% of breast cancer risk, it is also desirable to establish a risk for breast cancer on an individual level. Genotypic information from breast cancer genome-wide association studies (GWAS) SNPs will be integrated with phenotypic data from primary human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC) in a systems genetic model.

After obtaining a prioritized list of SNPs associated with breast cancer, we will refine this list by investigating the effects of environmental factors on gene expression. Cultured HMEC will be exposed to xenobiotics, after which RNA will be extracted. We will use qPCR to measure variations in expression of genes of interest.

By combining global genetic information with environmental exposure to form a network model, we will begin to describe the etiology of breast cancer. These findings may provide insights for disease prevention strategies and chemoprevention drugs both for populations and individuals.