Dr. Trey Westbrook, an internationally recognized cancer scientist, has been named the newest McNair Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine. This recognition will support his work focused on discovering the genes and mechanisms that drive breast cancer and developing the next generation of cancer medicines.
The McNair Scholar program, supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute, identifies influential researchers in breast and pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience.
“Our team seeks to turn scientific innovation into real impact for those fighting cancer. Only with the generous support of the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation is it possible to tackle the biggest challenges facing patients with breast cancer,” said Westbrook, who has been a Baylor faculty member for 10 years. Westbrook is a Welch Chair and professor of molecular and human genetics and of biochemistry and molecular biology. He also is a founding co-director of THINC (Therapeutic Innovations Center), a newly established Baylor initiative to target gene regulation in diseases such as cancer.
Westbrook has made significant contributions to medicine by using novel genetic technology developed in his lab to discover new genes that contribute to cancer. These technologies have been leveraged in more than 1,000 science laboratories to find the genes underpinning diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and AIDS.
His team applies genetic technologies to comprehensively identify cancer genes and networks. In doing so, he and his team have unveiled new understanding of aggressive cancers such as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). His team also has led collaborative efforts to translate these discoveries into new therapeutic approaches for patients with breast cancer and other malignancies.
In addition to searching for new targets and cancer therapies, the Westbrook team also studies the mechanisms governing how tumors respond to treatments and how to predict a patient’s response. Using new genetic screening methods, Westbrook has developed a way to identify signaling networks that govern how cancer cells respond to the next generation of cancer therapies and to predict which drugs should be combined for better treatments.
Westbrook also is a member of the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Cancer Center, the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, the Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Program and the Program in Developmental Biology at Baylor.
He attended Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
Westbrook has been honored with several prestigious awards including the Michael E. DeBakey Excellence in Research Award and the TAMEST Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award for innovation in medicine.