HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology committed to changing the landscape of cancer for all

HudsonAlpha Foundation to host annual Tie the Ribbons Luncheon to raise funds for breast and ovarian cancer research

Breast and ovarian cancers are deadly diseases. In 2018, it is expected that more than 50,000 women will die from breast and ovarian cancers. Together, these cancers account for more deaths than any other cancer in females. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is working on several projects in an effort to lower those numbers and save lives.

“It would be wonderful if we could find a way to detect cancers earlier,” said Richard Myers, PhD, HudsonAlpha president and science director. “Along with the physicians and scientists that we collaborate with, we are trying to help answer questions like can we use genomics to help diagnose cancers early so they are more likely to be treatable and even cured?”

Devin Absher, PhD, HudsonAlpha faculty investigator, is exploring the potential for using epigenetic markers to diagnose implications of ovarian cancer. The risk factors for ovarian cancer are a combination of heredity and environment, and epigenetic measurements can reflect both genetic and environmental risk factors. Understanding risk factors will help bring new diagnostics.

Another way that HudsonAlpha scientists are working to understand the underpinnings of the disease is by studying the immune response in tumor cells. Using a technology from iRepertoire, a company based on the HudsonAlpha campus, scientists hope to understand the role that the immune system has with tumor cell development and how it might be reversed or slowed.

“Studying how immune cells respond to cancerous tumor cells has immense potential as a way to detect cancer and monitor treatment response with less invasive testing,” said Sara Cooper, PhD, HudsonAlpha faculty investigator. “Currently, there is not an accurate blood test for breast or ovarian cancers, and imaging tests can identify masses but requires additional testing and follow-up biopsy to confirm cancer.”

Dr. Cooper’s group is using the iRepertoire technology to measure immune response to therapy with the goal of identifying new ways of improving immune response to tumors.

Personalized cancer treatments are showing promise, but only for some. HudsonAlpha along with collaborators are seeking ways to determine why some people respond to therapies differently and if we can use genomics to help predict the most effective therapy for an individual.

Advances in big data analytics allow us to examine tremendous amounts of information to uncover hidden patterns and correlations. By combining the power of thousands of patients, HudsonAlpha’s team of scientists are using vast datasets to highlight new insights into various forms of cancer.

This work is all part of HudsonAlpha’s Breakthrough Breast and Ovarian Cancer team. This group of scientists is committed to the goal of using genomic science andHudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art technology to find new breakthroughs in breast and ovarian cancers. Through collaborations with physicians and scientists both locally and around the world, this team is working to create early detection tools, fighting drug resistance and leveraging big data to accelerate discovery.

Breast and ovarian cancers are complicated diseases but through the power of genomic research and medicine, HudsonAlpha is working to find answers that make a difference. Each day HudsonAlpha’s scientists strive to find new breakthroughs that will bring health, healing, and hope to our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.

The HudsonAlpha Foundation will host the annual Tie the Ribbons luncheon November 8. There are a limited number of seats still available. To reserve, please visit

For more information or to support HudsonAlpha’s Breakthrough Breast and Ovarian Cancer team, please visit