Fellowship Grant Provides $92K for Metastasis Research at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey

September 6, 2012

New Brunswick, N.J. – A research associate in the laboratory of Edmund C. Lattime, PhD, deputy director of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), has been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship grant totaling $92,000 to further explore and better understand how HER2 positive breast cancer metastasizes (spreads) to the central nervous system. Plainsboro resident Keneshia Haenssen, PhD, was selected as one of only ten investigators nationwide to receive the United Negro College Fund (UNCF)/Merck Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship. CINJ is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Among patients diagnosed with HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer who undergo HER2-targeted treatment, between 25 and 50 percent not only become resistant to the treatment, but also go on to develop brain metastases. Through microarray analysis, Haenssen and colleagues identified target genes that may play a role in disease spread to the brain and spinal cord. Under the mentorship of Dr. Lattime and CINJ medical oncologist Shridar Ganesan, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Haenssen is currently studying the targeting of these genes. The goal is to determine their functional roles in disruption of the blood-brain-barrier, the triggering of signals that cause inflammation, and colonization of the central nervous system. Most recently, she has expanded her studies to include the role of the immune response in the control of metastasis using breast cancer models.

"These studies are extremely relevant to the advancement of breast cancer therapeutics, as central nervous system metastasis remains a serious clinical problem. A better understanding of its biology is clearly needed in order to develop better treatment approaches to improve survival in women with metastatic breast cancer," noted Dr. Haenssen. "I am honored to receive this fellowship and have the opportunity to further elucidate the mechanisms behind cancer metastasis."

"Dr. Haenssen's research exemplifies cutting edge science which brings together genomic analysis and the biology of breast cancer. These studies have the potential to identify new prognostic biomarkers of metastasis and the future identification of new targeted therapies," said Dr. Lattime, who is also a professor of surgery at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The fellowship will run through August 2014. Haenssen's work is also supported by the FM Kirby Foundation.

About The Cancer Institute of New Jersey
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state's first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. CINJ’s physician-scientists engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. To make a tax-deductible gift to support CINJ, call 732-235-8614 or visit CINJ is a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Follow us on Facebook at

The CINJ Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center, and Cooper University Hospital. Affiliate Hospitals: CentraState Healthcare System, JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), Somerset Medical Center, The University Hospital/UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School*, and University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. *Academic Affiliate

Michele Fisher


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