NIH Awards $430,000 to UF Radiation Oncology Team for Research Evaluating How to Improve Outcomes in Women with Breast Cancer Receiving Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

Raymond Mailhot Vega, MD, MPHThe National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a two-year, $430,000 grant supplement to UF Radiation Oncology researchers to learn how to better improve outcomes for women with breast cancer who receive chemotherapy before their surgery.

Principal Investigator Raymond Mailhot, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida (right), and his team will examine survival in women with residual breast disease after chemotherapy to learn how to optimize radiotherapy delivery to improve outcomes for these patients. A blood test measuring circulating tumor DNA will be studied as a possible future measure predictive of therapeutic benefit.

The study has three aims. The first is based on the hypothesis that women with residual breast or axillary disease treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy have a disease-free survival benefit from receiving regional nodal irradiation. The team will evaluate the benefit of radiotherapy in this group by leveraging data from past nationwide trials for women receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The second aim will be a prospective trial to explore whether regional nodal irradiation benefits cancer control in women with residual breast disease following neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Finally, in collaboration with with Steven Swarts, PhD, Research Associate Professor, and Dietmar Siemann, PhD, Associate Chair for Research, Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr. Mailhot’s team will measure the change in circulating tumor DNA longitudinally for women with PIK3CA-mutated invasive breast cancer completing all three modalities of treatment in the course of neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Underpinning these aims is the intentional evaluation of outcomes for Black women, who have historically faced very different mortality rates than those of white, non-Hispanic women. According to the CDC, Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer, and those diagnosed under the age of 50 have double the mortality rate than white women in that demographic.

Dr. Mailhot is an established health equity researcher and leads the Workforce working group for ASTRO’s Committee on Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (CHEDI) and serves as co-investigator for a project seeking to instruct PCPs on speaking with patients about clinical trial enrollment with a goal for better representation of marginalized populations in clinical trials. This award specifically seeks to evaluate the patterns of care of radiotherapy for minoritized populations and prospectively evaluate if different clinical outcomes or benefits exist between groups.

The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $32 billion a year to enhance life, and reduce illness and disability. For more information, visit


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