Why research is so important, with Dr. Michael Clarke

Among the many challenges with breast cancer and breast cancer research is metastasis when cancer cells break away from a tumor and travel to distant parts of the body. Within this collection of cells is an important minority group, breast cancer stem cells. These cells are ultimately responsible for cancer related death in women with the disease and understanding how they work is central to much of today's research. At the forefront of that research, Dr. Michael Clarke. Dr. Clarke is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and since 2005, a BCRF grantee. He is also the Karel and Avice Beekhuis Professor in Cancer Biology and Associate Director of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

In 2003, Clarke's lab was the first to identify breast cancer stem cells. Since then, among other findings, Clarke's team has identified two genes critical for stem cell functions including a gene that regulates normal stem cell dormancy which can drive the unpredictable length of time when tumor cells exist quietly without clinical manifestation. It's one of the most pressing problems in breast cancer responsible for late relapses. What's next from Dr. Clarke and his lab? What ideas is he exploring that might help prevent relapse? Dr. Clarke, thanks for joining me. Before we get into the specifics, I'm always curious, why research? What was it about scientific research that once upon a time said to you, "This is where I can make a real difference"?

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