Wendy A. Woodward, MD-PhD

Our team at the University of Texas Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Clinical and Research Program has the enormous privilege of taking care of patients with IBC who trust us to provide the very best care today for this challenging disease. We love the stories that come from the progress that has been made over the last decade. But I know for all of us, it is the patients with mean cancers that come back in spite of the new drugs, the immunotherapies, the comprehensive surgeries and radiation and adjuvant therapies that drive us to do more, faster. I love my long term follow up clinic because seeing long term IBC patients is amazing. But the challenges they live with is sobering. Our patients are taking so many therapies and tolerating the burden of it and still too many are navigating metastatic disease. As a team we talk every week about our challenging cases, and today we are taking a new approach to have more to offer, and less to mourn. We’ve launched our new chapter by thinking collectively about the problems we face in IBC and tackling these head-on. To that end we envisioned an initiative to prioritize impactful, yet understudied challenges and approach them with integrated clinical, translational, and basic science studies to make breakthroughs our patients urgently need. We’ve called it, IBC Metamorphosis. Profiling hope.

Our inaugural IBC Metamorphosis Flagship Focus is ER+ IBC. We picked ER+ because all of our current models and research are in triple negative and HER2-expressing IBC. The lack of models for ER+ IBC have made it challenging to study, so we are leveraging the incredible database and tissue archive our patients have participated over the years to specifically examine sensitivity to current ER+ agents and identify the biology that promotes recurrence. We are creating new tissue resources to study our banked samples in state-of-the-art ways and we are building collaborations to deepen these analyses. In addition, excitingly, for the first time we have an ER+ tumor model we can study in the lab. Lastly, in the next few months we will have trials open to offer immunotherapy to every stage III ER+ IBC patient we see. This affords an incredible opportunity to understand how immunotherapy works in ER+ IBC and inform trials for stage IV ER+ IBC. We continue to work hard for triple negative IBC and HER2+ IBC patients and are developing trials to prevent and treat metastases in these patients. We are kicking off our fundraising campaign this Spring and as always are indebted to our many supporters, especially the IBC Network Foundation who make this work possible! You can contact us anytime to join our 2024 fundraising Bootwalk team, IBC Wranglers, at ibcp@mdanderson.org.

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