University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Laura J. Esserman, MD, MBA

Laura J. Esserman, MD, MBA

Professor, Departments of Surgery and Radiology, and Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Health Policy Studies, UCSF
Director, Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center; Co-Leader, Breast Oncology Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Alfred A. de Lorimier Endowed Chair in General Surgery

Cancer Center Program Memberships

Breast Oncology

Research Summary

My work in breast cancer spans the spectrum from public policy issues to basic science and the impact of both on the delivery of clinical care. In addition to being the Director of the Breast Care Center and the Clinical Leader of the NCI-designated Breast Oncology Program, I direct (as Principal Investigator) two large multicenter collaborations in my areas of interest. The I-SPY TRIAL (Investigating Serial Studies to Predict Your Therapeutic Response using Imaging And molecular analysis) is a correlative science study for women with stage II/III breast cancer receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy, where women receive serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and core biopsies during the course of their therapy. This role led to the development of the I-SPY 2 Trial (PI), a large-scale trial that involves a unique collaboration by scientists from the NCI, the FDA, and nearly 20 major cancer research centers across the country. A distinctive feature of the trial is that it will screen multiple drugs from multiple companies—up to 12 different cancer drugs over the course of the trial. I-SPY 2 has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of drug development and speed the process of screening drugs with the goal of bringing safe and effective new drugs to market more efficiently. We are developing tools to tailor treatment for fast and slow growing tumors.

My role as former PI of the Biomarker Discovery Laboratory for the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) led to the development of the ATHENA Breast Health Network, an integrated breast health network across the University of California campuses and the Sanford Medical Center. In this ambitious project, we are recruiting 150,000 women who are undergoing screening, and will follow them through any biopsy, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. Importantly, this effort will serve to create an engine to provide and improve breast cancer prevention services.

Education

Harvard University, A.B., 1977, History of Science
Stanford University, M.D., 1983, Surgery
Stanford University, School of Business, M.B.A., 1993, Health Policy


Professional Experience

  • 1985-1988
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 1988-1990/1983-1985
    Resident in General Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 1990-1991
    Chief Resident in General Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • 1991-1993
    Consultant, Stanford University Hospital, Cost Benefit Issues in the ICU
  • 1992-1993
    Staff General Surgeon, Palo Alto VeteranOs Administration
  • 1991-1993
    Trauma Surgeon, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
  • 06/92-8/93
    Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery, Stanford University Department of Surgery
  • 09/93-present
    Co-Director, Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, UCSF/Mount Zion Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA
  • 09/93-5/04
    Assistant Professor of Surgery, UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center
  • 06/96-present
    Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 07/96-present
    Co-Director, High-Risk Program for Breast and Ovarian Cancer, UCSF/Mount Zion Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA
  • 04/97-present
    Joint Appointment, Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 06/97-present
    Executive Committee, Integrative Medicine Program, UCSF/Mount Zion Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA, Associate Professor, Surgery & Radiology
  • 07/97-present
    Director, UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at Mt. Zion, San Francisco, CA
  • 06/98-present
    Clinical Program Leader, Breast Oncology Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at Mt. Zion, San Francisco, CA
  • 6/04-present
    Professor of Surgery and Radiology, UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center
  • 2008-present
    Associate Director (Translational Informatics), Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCSF/Mount Zion Cancer Center, San Francisco, CA

Honors & Awards

(partial list)
  • 2010
    CaBIG Advancing Innovation Award, Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid
  • 2013
    Honors & invited plenary speech, "Risk- Based Screening and Prevention of Cancer as a Solution to Over-Diagnosis and Over-Treatment.” Women in Science Program Conference
  • 2013
    San Francisco American Cancer Society Soiree honors
  • 2014
    Award for Outstanding Achievement in Women’s Health, Journal of Women’s Health
  • 2014
    Award for excellence in translational oncology. 10th “Industry/Academia Translational Oncology” Symposium, Moores UCSD Cancer Center
  • 2016
    Stanford Graduate School of Business Earnest C. Arbuckle Award
  • 2016
    Personalized Medicine World Conference Luminary Award
  • 2016
    TIME 100 List of Most Influential People in the World
  • 2018
    20 Most Influential Moms of 2018, Family Circle

Selected Publications

  1. Yee D, DeMichele AM, Yau C, Isaacs C, Symmans WF, Albain KS, Chen YY, Krings G, Wei S, Harada S, Datnow B, Fadare O, Klein M, Pambuccian S, Chen B, Adamson K, Sams S, Mhawech-Fauceglia P, Magliocco A, Feldman M, Rendi M, Sattar H, Zeck J, Ocal IT, Tawfik O, LeBeau LG, Sahoo S, Vinh T, Chien AJ, Forero-Torres A, Stringer-Reasor E, Wallace AM, Pusztai L, Boughey JC, Ellis ED, Elias AD, Lu J, Lang JE, Han HS, Clark AS, Nanda R, Northfelt DW, Khan QJ, Viscusi RK, Euhus DM, Edmiston KK, Chui SY, Kemmer K, Park JW, Liu MC, Olopade O, Leyland-Jones B, Tripathy D, Moulder SL, Rugo HS, Schwab R, Lo S, Helsten T, Beckwith H, Haugen P, Hylton NM, Van't Veer LJ, Perlmutter J, Melisko ME, Wilson A, Peterson G, Asare AL, Buxton MB, Paoloni M, Clennell JL, Hirst GL, Singhrao R, Steeg K, Matthews JB, Asare SM, Sanil A, Berry SM, Esserman LJ, Berry DA. Association of Event-Free and Distant Recurrence-Free Survival With Individual-Level Pathologic Complete Response in Neoadjuvant Treatment of Stages 2 and 3 Breast Cancer: Three-Year Follow-up Analysis for the I-SPY2 Adaptively Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Oncol. 2020 Jul 23.
    View on PubMed
  2. Abel MK, Fahrner-Scott K, Wong J, Alvarado M, Ewing C, Esserman LJ, Park C, Mukhtar RA. Evaluating the impact of axillary dissection on recurrence-free survival by extent of nodal disease in invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Jul 21.
    View on PubMed
  3. Pashayan N, Antoniou AC, Ivanus U, Esserman LJ, Easton DF, French D, Sroczynski G, Hall P, Cuzick J, Evans DG, Simard J, Garcia-Closas M, Schmutzler R, Wegwarth O, Pharoah P, Moorthie S, De Montgolfier S, Baron C, Herceg Z, Turnbull C, Balleyguier C, Rossi PG, Wesseling J, Ritchie D, Tischkowitz M, Broeders M, Reisel D, Metspalu A, Callender T, de Koning H, Devilee P, Delaloge S, Schmidt MK, Widschwendter M. Publisher Correction: Personalized early detection and prevention of breast cancer: ENVISION consensus statement. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2020 Jun 29.
    View on PubMed
  4. Abel MK, Brabham CE, Guo R, Fahrner-Scott K, Wong J, Alvarado M, Ewing C, Esserman LJ, Mukhtar RA. Breast conservation therapy versus mastectomy in the surgical management of invasive lobular carcinoma measuring 4 cm or greater. Am J Surg. 2020 Jun 19.
    View on PubMed
  5. Pashayan N, Antoniou AC, Ivanus U, Esserman LJ, Easton DF, French D, Sroczynski G, Hall P, Cuzick J, Evans DG, Simard J, Garcia-Closas M, Schmutzler R, Wegwarth O, Pharoah P, Moorthie S, De Montgolfier S, Baron C, Herceg Z, Turnbull C, Balleyguier C, Rossi PG, Wesseling J, Ritchie D, Tischkowitz M, Broeders M, Reisel D, Metspalu A, Callender T, de Koning H, Devilee P, Delaloge S, Schmidt MK, Widschwendter M. Personalized early detection and prevention of breast cancer: ENVISION consensus statement. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2020 Jun 18.
    View on PubMed
  6. Jones EF, Hathi DK, Freimanis R, Mukhtar RA, Chien AJ, Esserman LJ, Van't Veer LJ, Joe BN, Hylton NM. Current Landscape of Breast Cancer Imaging and Potential Quantitative Imaging Markers of Response in ER-Positive Breast Cancers Treated with Neoadjuvant Therapy. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jun 09; 12(6).
    View on PubMed
  7. Nguyen AA, Arasu VA, Strand F, Li W, Onishi N, Gibbs J, Jones EF, Joe BN, Esserman LJ, Newitt DC, Hylton NM. Comparison of Segmentation Methods in Assessing Background Parenchymal Enhancement as a Biomarker for Response to Neoadjuvant Therapy. Tomography. 2020 Jun; 6(2):101-110.
    View on PubMed
  8. Onishi N, Li W, Gibbs J, Wilmes LJ, Nguyen A, Jones EF, Arasu V, Kornak J, Joe BN, Esserman LJ, Newitt DC, Hylton NM. Impact of MRI Protocol Adherence on Prediction of Pathological Complete Response in the I-SPY 2 Neoadjuvant Breast Cancer Trial. Tomography. 2020 Jun; 6(2):77-85.
    View on PubMed
  9. Li W, Newitt DC, Yun B, Jones EF, Arasu V, Wilmes LJ, Gibbs J, Nguyen AA, Onishi N, Kornak J, Joe BN, Esserman LJ, Hylton NM. Tumor Sphericity Predicts Response in Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Invasive Breast Cancer. Tomography. 2020 Jun; 6(2):216-222.
    View on PubMed
  10. Esserman LJ. Personalization of Treatment is the Way Forward in Care and Trials. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jun 15; 26(12):2771-2773.
    View on PubMed
  11. Mukhtar RA, Krings G, Chen YY, Mamounas ME, Fahrner-Scott K, Wong J, Alvarado M, Ewing C, Esserman LJ, Rugo H. Mitotic score and pleomorphic histology in invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast: impact on disease-free survival. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 May; 181(1):23-29.
    View on PubMed
  12. Eklund M, Broglio K, Yau C, Connor JT, Fiscalini AS, Esserman LJ. Response to Carter et al. JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2020 Apr; 4(2):pkaa016.
    View on PubMed
  13. Hwang ES, Hyslop T, Hendrix LH, Duong S, Bedrosian I, Price E, Caudle A, Hieken T, Guenther J, Hudis CA, Winer E, Lyss AP, Dickson-Witmer D, Hoefer R, Ollila DW, Hardman T, Marks J, Chen YY, Krings G, Esserman L, Hylton N. Phase II Single-Arm Study of Preoperative Letrozole for Estrogen Receptor-Positive Postmenopausal Ductal Carcinoma In Situ: CALGB 40903 (Alliance). J Clin Oncol. 2020 Apr 20; 38(12):1284-1292.
    View on PubMed
  14. Esserman L. We need more evidence to answer questions about screening. Nature. 2020 03; 579(7800):S5.
    View on PubMed
  15. Nanda R, Liu MC, Yau C, Shatsky R, Pusztai L, Wallace A, Chien AJ, Forero-Torres A, Ellis E, Han H, Clark A, Albain K, Boughey JC, Jaskowiak NT, Elias A, Isaacs C, Kemmer K, Helsten T, Majure M, Stringer-Reasor E, Parker C, Lee MC, Haddad T, Cohen RN, Asare S, Wilson A, Hirst GL, Singhrao R, Steeg K, Asare A, Matthews JB, Berry S, Sanil A, Schwab R, Symmans WF, van 't Veer L, Yee D, DeMichele A, Hylton NM, Melisko M, Perlmutter J, Rugo HS, Berry DA, Esserman LJ. Effect of Pembrolizumab Plus Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy on Pathologic Complete Response in Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer: An Analysis of the Ongoing Phase 2 Adaptively Randomized I-SPY2 Trial. JAMA Oncol. 2020 Feb 13.
    View on PubMed
  16. Cao CX, Sharib JM, Blanco AM, Goldberg D, Bracci P, Mukhtar RA, Esserman LJ, Kirkwood KS. Abdominal Imaging of Pancreatic Cysts and Cyst-Associated Pancreatic Cancer in BRCA1/2 Mutation Carriers: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional Study. J Am Coll Surg. 2020 Jan; 230(1):53-63.e1.
    View on PubMed
  17. Piper ML, Wong J, Fahrner-Scott K, Ewing C, Alvarado M, Esserman LJ, Mukhtar RA. Success rates of re-excision after positive margins for invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2019; 5:29.
    View on PubMed
  18. Yu NY, Iftimi A, Yau C, Tobin NP, van 't Veer L, Hoadley KA, Benz CC, Nordenskjöld B, Fornander T, Stål O, Czene K, Esserman LJ, Lindström LS. Assessment of Long-term Distant Recurrence-Free Survival Associated With Tamoxifen Therapy in Postmenopausal Patients With Luminal A or Luminal B Breast Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2019 Aug 08.
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  19. Piawah S, Hyland C, Umetsu SE, Esserman LJ, Rugo HS, Chien AJ. A case report of vanishing bile duct syndrome after exposure to pexidartinib (PLX3397) and paclitaxel. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2019; 5:17.
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  20. Magbanua MJM, Yau C, Wolf DM, Lee JS, Chattopadhyay A, Scott JH, Bowlby-Yoder E, Hwang ES, Alvarado M, Ewing CA, Delson AL, Van't Veer LJ, Esserman L, Park JW. Synchronous Detection of Circulating Tumor Cells in Blood and Disseminated Tumor Cells in Bone Marrow Predicts Adverse Outcome in Early Breast Cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2019 09 01; 25(17):5388-5397.
    View on PubMed

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