Professor, Department of Medicine (Oncology)
Dr. Sparano is Professor of Medicine & Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Associate Chairman for Clinical Research in the Department of Oncology at Montefiore Medical Center, Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, and Co-Program Leader of the Tumor Microenvironment Program at the Einstein Cancer Center. He also serves as Vice Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Research Group, Vice Chair of the AIDS Malignancy Consortium, and Vice Chair of the NCI Breast Cancer Correlative Science Committee. He is former director of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at Einstein/Montefiore, co-directs the ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Program, and is a faculty member of the Calabresi K12 Oncology Training Program. He is co-principal investigator of the Montefiore-Einstein Minority/Underserved National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant (in conjunction with Dr. Mark Einstein and Dr. Bruce Rapkin), which funds multicenter, NCI-sponsored clinical trials in cancer therapeutics, cancer prevention/control, and cancer care delivery research. He is also the recipient of funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that is supporting creation of a biospecimen bank designed to identify determinants of late relapse.
Dr. Sparano is a practicing clinician who specializes in medical oncology and clinical and translational cancer research. His research has focused on developmental therapeutic approaches for breast cancer, lymphoma, and HIV-associated cancers, and therapeutic application of molecular profiling in cancer. His research interests are described in greater detail below.
Reducing Overtreatment of Early Stage Breast Cancer
Dr. Sparano serves as the study chair for the TAILORx clinical trial sponsored by National Cancer Institute, the first clinical trial integrating a mulitparameter gene expression assay in clinical decision making for adjuvant therapy with early stage ER-positive, HER2 negative breast cancer (http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/noteworthy-trials/tailorx), This study completed accrual of approximately 10,000 patients in approximately 900 sites in 4 continents in 2010, with results not yet reported but expected sometime in 2016; approximately 7000 patients with a mid-range Oncotype DX Recurrence Score were randomized to chemoendocrine therapy vs. endocrine therapy alone, whereas the remainder were assigned to endocrine therapy alone if the RS was low, or chemoendocrine therapy if the RS was high. When fully mature, the results of this study may change the standard of care by sparing chemotherapy for the vast majority of patients with early stage ER-positive breast cancer, which accounts for about one-half of all breast cancers and 9% of all cancers in the U.S.
Improving Treatment Outcomes in Breast Cancer
Dr. Sparano is former vice-chair of the ECOG Breast Cancer Committee, and Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Breast Cancer Committee. In those roles, he has led several phase III NCI-sponsored clinical trials in breast cancer, including a phase III which demonstrated that adjuvant weekly paclitaxel improves overall survival in stage II-III breast cancer (E1199) that has influenced clinical practice internationally. Other analyses of this data set have shown a strong association between obesity and black race with inferior outcomes in ER-positive breast cancer, which has been validated in other reports, and led to additional prospective trials and/or investigations.
Developing and Validating Gene Expression Signatures in Breast Cancer
Dr. Sparano has collaborated with other investigators to validate and/or refine prognostic gene expression signatures in early stage breast cancer, including the Oncotype Recurrence Score for invasive cancer and DCIS Score for in situ cancer.
Evaluating Interaction between Breast Cancer and the Microenvironment
As co-program leader of the Einstein Cancer Center Tumor Micoenvironment Program along with Dr. John Condeelis, Dr. Sparano has collaborated with a multidisciplinary team at Einstein and Montefiore to validate a novel biomarker called ”TMEM” (Tumor Microenvironment of Metastasis), which provides complementary prognostic information to other markers (eg, IHC4) in ER-positive breast cancer. He is currently working with the team to evaluate novel agents which may prevent TMEM assembly and/or function, and hence prevent metatasis. He also collaborates with Dr. Xingxing Zang in evaluating the B7 family of proteins in breast cancer, and with Dr. Thomas Rohan (Chair, Dept. of Epidemiology & Populaton Health) to evaluate other prognostic and predictive biomarkers .
Integrating Novel Therapeutics with Standard Therapies in Localized and Advanced Stage Breast cancer
Dr. Sparano has led several clinical trials testing novel agents in combination with standard neoadjuvant therapy, including farnesyl transferase inhibitors, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and m-TOR inhibitors.
Developing More Effective Therapies for HIV-Associated Cancers
Dr. Sparano serves as the current vice-chair of the AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC), and prior chair of the AMC Lymphoma Working Group and Non-AIDS Defining Malignancy Working Group. In these roles, he has developed novel therapeutic approaches for the management of HIV-associated lymphoma (rituximab plus EPOCH) and anal cancer (cetuximab plus cisplatin/5-FU/RT), and organized an international team in collaboration with Dr. Stefan Barta to perform a metaanalysis of HIV-lymphoma trials, and a new prognostic score for HIV-associated lymphoma.
More Information About Dr. Joseph Sparano
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NBC Nightly News interviews Dr. Joseph Sparano about his study that found just being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
The Los Angeles Times interviews Dr. Joseph Sparano in an article on the growing evidence linking obesity with increased risk of cancer and mortality.