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. 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 Mar 03; JCO1900510.
    View on PubMed
  2. Esserman L. We need more evidence to answer questions about screening. Nature. 2020 Mar; 579(7800):S5.
    View on PubMed
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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.
    View on PubMed
  7. 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.
    View on PubMed
  8. 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 Sep 01; 25(17):5388-5397.
    View on PubMed
  9. Dreher N, Hadeler EK, Hartman SJ, Wong EC, Acerbi I, Rugo HS, Majure MC, Chien AJ, Esserman LJ, Melisko ME. Fitbit Usage in Patients With Breast Cancer Undergoing Chemotherapy. Clin Breast Cancer. 2019 Dec; 19(6):443-449.e1.
    View on PubMed
  10. Li W, Newitt DC, Wilmes LJ, Jones EF, Arasu V, Gibbs J, La Yun B, Li E, Partridge SC, Kornak J, Esserman LJ, Hylton NM. Additive value of diffusion-weighted MRI in the I-SPY 2 TRIAL. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2019 Dec; 50(6):1742-1753.
    View on PubMed
  11. Jones EF, Ray KM, Li W, Chien AJ, Mukhtar RA, Esserman LJ, Franc BL, Seo Y, Pampaloni MH, Joe BN, Hylton NM. Initial experience of dedicated breast PET imaging of ER+ breast cancers using [F-18]fluoroestradiol. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2019; 5:12.
    View on PubMed
  12. Antoniou A, Anton-Culver H, Borowsky A, Broeders M, Brooks J, Chiarelli A, Chiquette J, Cuzick J, Delaloge S, Devilee P, Dorval M, Easton D, Eisen A, Eklund M, Eloy L, Esserman L, Garcia-Closas M, Goldgar D, Hall P, Knoppers BM, Kraft P, La Croix A, Madalensky L, Mavaddat N, Mittman N, Nabi H, Olopade O, Pashayan N, Schmidt M, Shieh Y, Simard J, Stover-Fiscallini A, Tice JA, Van't Veer L, Wenger N, Wolfson M, Yau C, Ziv E. A response to "Personalised medicine and population health: breast and ovarian cancer". Hum Genet. 2019 Mar; 138(3):287-289.
    View on PubMed
  13. Chien AJ, Tripathy D, Albain KS, Symmans WF, Rugo HS, Melisko ME, Wallace AM, Schwab R, Helsten T, Forero-Torres A, Stringer-Reasor E, Ellis ED, Kaplan HG, Nanda R, Jaskowiak N, Murthy R, Godellas C, Boughey JC, Elias AD, Haley BB, Kemmer K, Isaacs C, Clark AS, Lang JE, Lu J, Korde L, Edmiston KK, Northfelt DW, Viscusi RK, Yee D, Perlmutter J, Hylton NM, Van't Veer LJ, DeMichele A, Wilson A, Peterson G, Buxton MB, Paoloni M, Clennell J, Berry S, Matthews JB, Steeg K, Singhrao R, Hirst GL, Sanil A, Yau C, Asare SM, Berry DA, Esserman LJ. MK-2206 and Standard Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Improves Response in Patients With Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2-Positive and/or Hormone Receptor-Negative Breast Cancers in the I-SPY 2 Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Feb 07; JCO1901027.
    View on PubMed
  14. Esserman LJ, Varma M. Should we rename low risk cancers? BMJ. 2019 Jan 23; 364:k4699.
    View on PubMed
  15. Ozanne EM, Howe R, Mallinson D, Esserman L, Van't Veer LJ, Kaplan CP. Evaluation of National Comprehensive Cancer Network guideline-based Tool for Risk Assessment for breast and ovarian Cancer (N-TRAC): A patient-reported survey for genetic high-risk assessment for breast and ovarian cancers in women. J Genet Couns. 2019 Jun; 28(3):507-515.
    View on PubMed
  16. Eklund M, Broglio K, Yau C, Connor JT, Stover Fiscalini A, Esserman LJ. The WISDOM Personalized Breast Cancer Screening Trial: Simulation Study to Assess Potential Bias and Analytic Approaches. JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2018 Oct; 2(4):pky067.
    View on PubMed
  17. Boughey JC, Alvarado MD, Lancaster RB, Symmans WF, Mukhtar R, Wong JM, Ewing CA, Potter DA, Tuttle TM, Hieken TJ, Carter JM, Jakub JW, Kaplan HG, Buchanan CL, Jaskowiak NT, Sattar HA, Mueller J, Nanda R, Isaacs CJ, Pohlmann PR, Lynce F, Tousimis EA, Zeck JC, Lee MC, Lang JE, Mhawech-Fauceglia P, Rao R, Taback B, Goodellas C, Chen M, Kalinsky KM, Hibshoosh H, Killelea B, Sanft T, Hirst GL, Asare S, Matthews JB, Perlmutter J, Esserman LJ. Erratum: Author Correction: Surgical Standards for Management of the Axilla in Breast Cancer Clinical Trials with Pathological Complete Response Endpoint. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2019; 5:2.
    View on PubMed
  18. Tang V, Zhao S, Boscardin J, Sudore R, Covinsky K, Walter LC, Esserman L, Mukhtar R, Finlayson E. Functional Status and Survival After Breast Cancer Surgery in Nursing Home Residents. JAMA Surg. 2018 12 01; 153(12):1090-1096.
    View on PubMed
  19. Esserman LJ, LaCroix AZ. Precision risk-based screening might maximize benefit and minimize harm. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2018 11; 15(11):661-662.
    View on PubMed
  20. Newitt DC, Zhang Z, Gibbs JE, Partridge SC, Chenevert TL, Rosen MA, Bolan PJ, Marques HS, Aliu S, Li W, Cimino L, Joe BN, Umphrey H, Ojeda-Fournier H, Dogan B, Oh K, Abe H, Drukteinis J, Esserman LJ, Hylton NM. Test-retest repeatability and reproducibility of ADC measures by breast DWI: Results from the ACRIN 6698 trial. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2019 Jun; 49(6):1617-1628.
    View on PubMed

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