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

Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, an internationally recognized breast surgeon, breast oncology specialist, and visionary in personalized medicine, is revolutionizing breast cancer screening and treatment throughout our nation today.

As a Professor of Surgery and Radiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, Dr. Esserman's breast cancer work spans a spectrum from basic science to public policy issues and the impact of both on the delivery of clinical care. She is a provocative thought leader calling attention to and finding solutions for over-diagnosis and over-treatment of breast cancer, especially of DCIS.

Since 2002, Dr. Esserman has led the I-SPY TRIALS, a ground-breaking national public-private collaboration among NCI, FDA, more than 20 cancer research centers, and major pharma, biotech companies, and the not for profit sponsor, Quantum Leap Healthcare Collaborative. This trial model, which has now become an international model for translational research, designed to shave several years and tens of millions of dollars off the drug development process. The trial paradigm is now being developed for use in other disease domains, and she recently got FDA approval for an I-SPY Covid trial, designed to rapidly screen and confirm high impact treatments to reduce mortality and time on ventilators.

Additionally, Dr. Esserman led the creation of the University of California-wide Athena Breast Health Network, a learning system designed to integrate clinical care and research as it follows 150,000 women from screening through treatment and outcomes. As part of the network, she has spearheaded the development of the WISDOM study to learn how to improve breast cancer screening by testing and comparing the safety and efficacy of a personalized screening strategy informed by each woman's breast cancer risk and preferences against the standard of annual screening.

Dr. Esserman is a passionate and persistent advocate for her patients. She is keenly aware that many of her patients don't have 10 years to wait for the right treatment options. Her work is dedicated to accelerating the development of targeted, effective prevention and treatment options that can make a difference at the time when they are needed the most. Through these efforts, Dr. Esserman is helping to reshape the healthcare system, and changing it from a general population approach to a personalized and patient-centered care model.

Dr. Esserman has published more than 300 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and is regularly consulted by prestigious scientific, business, and consumer media including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Health Magazine, Prevention Magazine, The Newshour, ABC World News, the NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, and NPR's Science Friday.

Dr. Esserman was included as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2016, and was the recipient of the 2016 Stanford Business School Ernest C. Arbuckle Award and the 2016 Personalized Medicine World Conference Pioneer and Luminary Award. The San Francisco Business Times honored her with the Most Influential Women in Business Awards for 2018, and she also received the 2018 Giant of Cancer Care® in Cancer Diagnostics award.

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

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. Esserman LJ, Hewitt K, Son J, Glencer A, Borowsky AD, Cooperberg MR. The Evolution of Our Understanding of the Biology of Cancer Is the Key to Avoiding Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2020 Oct 08.
    View on PubMed
  2. Son JD, Piper M, Hewitt K, Alvarado M, Esserman LJ, Ewing C, Wong JM, Mukhtar RA. Oncological Outcomes of Total Skin-Sparing Mastectomy for Invasive Lobular Carcinoma of the Breast: A 20-Year Institutional Experience. Ann Surg Oncol. 2020 Oct 06.
    View on PubMed
  3. Sharib J, Esserman L, Koay EJ, Maitra A, Shen Y, Kirkwood KS, Ozanne EM. Cost-effectiveness of consensus guideline based management of pancreatic cysts: The sensitivity and specificity required for guidelines to be cost-effective. Surgery. 2020 Oct; 168(4):601-609.
    View on PubMed
  4. 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
  5. Arasu VA, Kim P, Li W, Strand F, McHargue C, Harnish R, Newitt DC, Jones EF, Glymour MM, Kornak J, Esserman LJ, Hylton NM. Predictive Value of Breast MRI Background Parenchymal Enhancement for Neoadjuvant Treatment Response among HER2- Patients. J Breast Imaging. 2020 Aug; 2(4):352-360.
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  6. 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 Oct; 183(3):661-667.
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  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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 06; 6(2):101-110.
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  12. 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 06; 6(2):77-85.
    View on PubMed
  13. 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 06; 6(2):216-222.
    View on PubMed
  14. Esserman LJ. Personalization of Treatment is the Way Forward in Care and Trials. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jun 15; 26(12):2771-2773.
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  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Esserman L. We need more evidence to answer questions about screening. Nature. 2020 03; 579(7800):S5.
    View on PubMed
  19. 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.
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  20. 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 01; 230(1):53-63.e1.
    View on PubMed

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