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Dr. Matthew Ellis. Image courtesy Sid Hastings.

Dr. Matthew Ellis, a renowned clinician scientist in the area of genomics and molecular profiling of breast cancer, has been named as the new director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

Ellis will assume his new role at Baylor effective Sept. 1, 2014.

He will succeed Dr. C. Kent Osborne, who will step down as director of the Smith Breast Center to focus on his role as director of the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor. Osborne has served simultaneously as director of both centers since 2004.

“Dr. Ellis has an excellent track record in leadership and his research in genomics is outstanding,” said Dr. Paul E. Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor. “He is the perfect fit for our organization and its goal of bringing new treatments to patients on an accelerated timeline.”

Baylor received a recruitment grant from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to help recruit Ellis.

“Dr. Osborne has created a visionary research environment that fosters the type of energetic interdisciplinary effort that achieves breakthroughs that our patients are hoping for,” said Ellis. “The CPRIT investment will allow me to take existing strengths at Baylor College of Medicine and build a patient-focused program that will translate technical advances in genomics and proteomics into clinical tools that will dramatically improve outcomes.” 

Ellis was recruited from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis where he is currently a professor of medicine and head of the section of breast oncology, a position he has held since 2010. He has also served as head of medical oncology at Washington University School of Medicine and has been a faculty member there since 2003.

Ellis’ work has unveiled groundbreaking new information about mutations in breast cancer and their clinical relevance.

His genomic and proteomic studies have been funded by the National Human Genome Institute, the National Cancer Institute, the AVON Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. 

He has been instrumental in developing a Genome Atlas and Therapeutic Road Map for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.  Most recently he has found that metastatic breast tumors initially positive for the estrogen receptor frequently harbor mutations and translocations in the receptor that render the tumor resistant to endocrine therapies used to block estrogen.  Several laboratories are now trying to develop new drugs that will block these mutant receptors.

Prior to Washington University, Ellis served on the faculty at Duke University and Georgetown University.

“Dr. Ellis will be an outstanding addition to the Smith Breast Center team and our mission to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment of breast cancer,” said Osborne. “He will serve as an important link with the Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center. In addition, he brings with him a large resource of patient derived xenografts (tumors taken directly from the patient and studied in animals) which are excellent for testing new therapies and understanding treatment resistance.”

His work to develop these models focused on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer and it complements similar efforts underway by Smith Breast Center researchers with estrogen receptor negative breast cancer.

“Together this will represent an amazing resource for our researchers to use in their studies developing new treatments for the disease,” said Osborne.

Ellis is a native of the United Kingdom. He completed his medical degree from Queens’ College & School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge in England, postgraduate clinical training at the Royal College of Physicians in London and Ph.D. training at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at the University of London.