Dr. Robert Clarke, executive director of The Hormel Institute University of Minnesota, is one of five cancer researchers who collaborated to publish discoveries derived from using innovative “radiogenomics” in the top journal Nature Communications. 

Dr. Clarke along with Drs. Ming Fan, Pingping Xia, Yue Wang and Lihua Li collaborated in the research article “Radiogenomic signatures reveal multiscale intratumor heterogeneity associated with biological functions and survival in breast cancer.” 

The article describes the importance of studying different, distinguishable parts or features of breast tumors. The research group used the fast-evolving technology of radiogenomics, an innovative approach that uses imaging technology linked to the genetic profiles of tumors, to provide a non-invasive means to predict a breast cancer patient’s future outcome. 

Their research helped identify specific imaging features or signatures and led to discoveries in prediction of tumor genomic alterations and that biological functions in tumors drove breast cancer patient outcomes. This method of precision medicine provides greater knowledge of the tumor genetic profile and is significant because it can help open the door to new therapies for how oncologists treat cancer patients. Normally insight into the tumor genome requires a biopsy- an invasive procedure, whereas radiogenomics is non-invasive.

The authors would like to thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province of China, the US Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and the US National Institutes of Health for funding this study. Dr. Clarke would like to give special acknowledgement to The Hormel Foundation for its generous support to The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.