Jovanny Zabaleta, PhD

Lucio Miele, MD, PhD


Doug Cress, PhD

Teresita Muñoz-Antonia, PhD

Pilot Project

The research pilot project provides mentorship and support to a promising minority Early Stage Investigator (ESI) whose research focuses on exploring the links between genetic ancestry and Luminal B breast cancer among African American and Hispanic and Latina women. The goal of this work is to explore the links between genetic ancestry and the aggressive Luminal B-type of breast cancer.  Previous work suggests that Luminal B tumors are highly prevalent among Latina breast cancer patients from Colombia and that this linkage is related to Native American Ancestry. These results suggest a major contribution of ancestry in the modulation of key genomic players in defining not only the intrinsic breast cancer subtypes, but also the differential response to treatment and overall survival in Luminal B tumors.  This work will test the hypothesis that Native American ancestry associated with a high incidence of aggressive Luminal B tumors due to altered DNA modification that changes the expression of key genes involved in aggressive breast cancer. Our ultimate goal with research conducted through this partnership is to increase precision medicine uptake among African Americans and Hispanic and Latina breast cancer patients by identifying prognostic biomarkers and molecular features that suggest specific tailored therapeutic approaches to treatment.

Early Stage Investigator Profile

Jovanny Zabaleta, PhD, earned an MS in Immunology from the University of Antioquia in 1995, and obtained his doctorate in Cancer Genetics from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, where he also completed a research fellowship in the Tumor Immunology/Immunotherapy laboratory. As an Associate Professor of Research in the Department of Pediatrics, he focuses his research on the molecular mechanisms of cancer development in gastric and other cancers. He also directs the Translational Genomics Core laboratory within the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center.