Thomas Jefferson UniversityJefferson School of Pharmacy

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Research: Dr. Takemi Tanaka

Developing novel therapies to prevent metastasis in women with breast cancer

"A tumor contains cancer cells, tumor stroma, vasculatures and other cellular components which support each other to survive. Conventional chemotherapies attack the cancer cells and not the other cells. The real challenge is determining how to attack what cells in order to destroy a tumor."

Dr. Takemi TanakaDr. Takemi Tanaka
Associate Professor in
the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Research focus:

  • Breast cancer signaling and etiology
  • Chemoprevention
  • Targeted therapy
  • Cancer nanomedicine
  • Metastasis prevention
  • Biomarker discovery
  • Tumor stromal biology

Application: Her research interests cover a broad spectrum of women’s cancers including breast and ovarian cancer. Results of her research could lead to a better understanding of cancer etiology and development of novel targeted therapy in conjunction with nanotechnology.

Premise: Despite improvements in diagnostics, surgery, chemotherapy and targeted therapies, mortality rates in women with advanced breast cancer have remained largely unchanged. Successful research has changed the lives of women with breast cancer. For example, Herceptin has proven to be a good way to treat HER2-positive breast cancer patients.

It is now understood that no cancer is the same, which makes it imperative to develop new approaches to personalized cancer therapy.  Dr. Tanaka aims to develop a new targeted therapy to prevent the development of metastasis for women with triple negative breast cancer.

Funding: Dr. Tanaka receives funding from the Department of Defense, a Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition grant and the American Cancer Society Institute Research Grant.

Thought leadership:
Kimmel Cancer Center Endocrine Mechanism and Hormone Action in Cancer program