TBBCF names 2024 Honorary Walk Chair

2024 Honorary Walk Chair medical oncologist Adrienne G. Waks, MD


With a focus on the critical scientific research dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer, the very bedrock of TBBCF’s mission, naming medical oncologist Adrienne G. Waks, MD, as Honorary TBBCF 2024 Walk Chair was a natural fit.

The 2024 Walk for a Cure theme is ‘Research Matters.’ Waks is one of the subjects in the Face of TBBCF Research video being produced now by Copper Pot Pictures. And, she’ll be the Keynote Speaker at the Walk for a Cure closing ceremonies.

April 18, 2024: Copper Pot Pictures filmed Doctor Waks at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
April 18, 2024: Copper Pot Pictures filmed Doctor Waks at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the upcoming Research Matters - Face of TBBCF Research video.

In 2018, TBBCF awarded Waks, then a junior researcher finishing her fellowship, a $100,000 research grant which she used to complete her clinical trial study which assessed the feasibility for oncologists to use reduced levels of breast cancer medications following successful breast cancer surgery.

Her study, completed in 2021, was focused on patients with non-metastatic, HER2+ breast cancer and was published in npj Breast Cancer, a multidisciplinary breast cancer research journal, and the Journal of the American Medical Association’s monthly peer-reviewed oncology journal.

Her trial called ‘DAPHNe: De-escalation to adjuvant antibodies post-pCR to neoadjuvant THP,’ is a pilot study in HER2-positive breast cancer. Read more about it on the National Institutes of Health site here.

The study’s overarching goal was to see if it’s feasible to reduce the amount of chemotherapy needed for patients with non-metastatic, HER2+ breast cancer, thereby minimizing side effects.

Waks is a Medical Oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She earned her degree at Harvard Medical School and completed her residency training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and has completed a clinical and research fellowship in medical oncology at Dana‐Farber/Partners Cancer Care.

As she shared with TBBCF last year, Waks pointed out that the trial “wasn’t the definitive trial to show that that approach is effective for the overall population of patients.”

Waks said the grant, her first, affirmed the importance of her research at a critical time in her career as a physician-scientist.

In a 2021 interview, she shared that TBBCF “signed on early and believed in me. It was so validating and motivating.”

“The goal was to establish the feasibility, but not the efficacy and establish whether patients and their doctors and treatment team were comfortable with that approach, an approach that just makes intuitive sense,” she said at the time. “Everyone wants more individualized treatment where they have the potential for fewer side effects.”

As noted, Dana-Farber colleagues who received Foundation support early in their careers, including Dr. Heather Parsons who was awarded a grant in 2017, and Dr. Daniel Stover who was awarded a grant in 2016, encouraged Waks to apply.

For Waks, caring for patients while conducting breast cancer research has brought “incredible meaning” to her work.

She told TBBCF in 2023 that, “As a junior investigator, I’m interested in asking the questions that I hope are going to help patients. I’m grateful I’ve been able to, with TBBCF funding, dedicate time to this study.”

So who better than Waks, especially given this year's theme that Research Matters to serve as Honorary Walk Chair.

She said that the Walk for a Cure has directly, and positively, impacted breast cancer research by providing researcher seed funding made possible by walkers and donors, that can lead to potentially life-changing discoveries.

“What is so wonderful about the Terri Brodeur model is how it specifically prioritizes supporting people who are just starting out,” Waks noted in 2023.

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