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Spotlight: Center for BRCA and Related Genes December 22, 2022

Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham Cancer Center Logos

DoctorsInherited mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and other BRCA-related DNA repair genes confer increased risk of multiple tumor types – particularly breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Moreover, it is now clear that many cancers can acquire mutations in the BRCA and other related DNA repair genes only in their tumor cells, even though the patient was not born with the genetic mutation.

Patients with inherited BRCA mutations, as well as those with acquired BRCA mutations only in their tumors, are increasingly likely to benefit from new classes of drugs such as PARP inhibitors and other cell cycle checkpoint inhibitors, as well as targeted agents alone or in combination with immunotherapies. The Center for BRCA and Related Genes provides access to these novel therapies through clinical trials, with a particular focus on overcoming developed resistance to chemotherapy, targeted agents, and DNA repair inhibitors.


Dana-Farber has a rich tradition of basic, translational, and clinical research and an extraordinary legacy in the study of the BRCA and related genes. Early pioneering work by Dana-Farber investigators characterized the BRCA1 protein in ovarian and breast cancer cells and demonstrated that mutations in BRCA2 contribute to a rare human genetic disease called Fanconi anemia, clarifying their critical roles in the repair of specific errors in DNA.

Over the past 20 years, Dana-Farber investigators have made important discoveries that have illuminated not only the function of these crucial genes, but also how their dysfunction leads to cancer susceptibility. More recently, researchers have identified genetic defects in these tumors that make them vulnerable to new effective treatments, playing a critical role in the development and eventual FDA approval of novel therapies, such as PARP inhibitors, for certain BRCA-related cancers.


The Center for BRCA and Related Genes at Dana-Farber is one of a very few such centers in the world. Within our unique collaborative environment, world-class clinical faculty and clinical, translational, and basic research investigators offer unparalleled backgrounds and expertise in:

  • Biomarkers
  • Biostatistics
  • Cancer biology
  • Cancer detection
  • Cancer genetics
  • Cancer prevention
  • Clinical oncology
  • Computational biology
  • Disease models
  • DNA repair
  • Drug development
  • Immunology
  • Molecular biology
  • Quality of life, survivorship, outcomes

Our cutting-edge basic, translational, and clinical research and discoveries in the field of BRCA-related cancers are leading to new treatments for patients with several cancer types.

In addition to conducting groundbreaking research, the Center provides expert clinical care to patients with BRCA-related cancers, regardless of tumor type. We offer outstanding interdisciplinary collaboration across multiple disease centers. Our team of specialists works closely together to offer patients the latest therapies and clinical services, including access to innovative clinical trials.


Individuals who carry inherited mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and other BRCA-related DNA repair genes face multiple challenges related to cancer genetic testing, early detection, screening, cancer risk and risk reduction, and reproductive decision-making.

Dana-Farber’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention includes a team of expert health professionals – medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, gynecologists, psychologists, surgeons, nurses, and genetic counselors – who provide comprehensive care for patients, survivors, and families whose lives have been touched by BRCA-related cancer.

Our multidisciplinary team creates a unique, personalized plan for every patient, taking advantage of the full range of services of a top-ranked cancer hospital and research center.


Referring physicians are integral parts of every patient’s care team and we are committed to collaborating with you in the care of your patient. We recommend our services in the following instances:

  • If your patient has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation or any mutation/alteration in any other related DNA repair genes. Mutations in BRCA and BRCA-related genes may be present in the germline or in the tumor.
  • If your patient has a tumor that has been determined to be homologous recombination deficient (HRD) via a commercially available assay, such as from Myriad or Foundation Medicine.
  • If your patient has a family history of multiple people on the same side of the family diagnosed with breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, or other BRCA-related cancers, especially at a young age.

If you are not sure whether your patient is right for us, do not hesitate to contact us directly to inquire. For questions or to refer a patient to the Center for BRCA and Related Genes, please call 877-441-3324 and specifically mention the Center to the referral coordinator.


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