Meet the key researchers for our BRCA Breastmilk research project

Kathleen Arcaro, PhD

Project role: Project director for the BRCA project

Professional affiliation:  Professor, Umass Amherst

Profile link: https://www.vasci.umass.edu/research-faculty/kathleen-f-arcaro

Research Interests:  http://www.breastmilkresearch.org/about/

A major goal of the research in the Arcaro lab is to develop tools for assessing individual breast cancer risk. To this end, we study breastmilk.  Human milk contains multiple cell types, including epithelial cells from the lining of the ducts and lobules. Because cancer-related DNA methylation may occur decades before disease diagnosis, we are interested in determining the extent to which DNA methylation patterns in the sloughed epithelial cells can inform future breast cancer risk.  Accurately assessing individual risk would provide women the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding preventative treatments.

Lindiwe Sibeko, PhD

Project role: Outreach consultant to the BRCA project

Professional affiliation:  Assistant Professor, Umass Amherst

Profile link: https://www.umass.edu/sphhs/person/faculty/lindiwe-sibeko

Research Interests:  My research interests are strongly influenced by my professional background in dietetics, lactation care/management and community health programming for at-risk women and children, coupled with community-engaged research in the area of breastfeeding and human milk. I use a life-course framework that integrates research, education and extension outreach to improve health outcomes among women and children vulnerable to health disparities.

 

 

 

 

Brian Pentecost, PhD

Project role: Co-investigator for the BRCA project

Professional affiliation:  Research affiliate UMass. Retired from NY DoH Wadsworth Ctr, SUNYA School of Public Health.

Profile link: http://www.breastmilkresearch.org/online-cv-for-brian-pentecost-in-the-umass-brca-breastmilk-project/

Research Interests: My career focus has been gene regulation and expression in relation to estrogen action in both the reproductive tract and in breast cancer. For the past decade, my principal role within NYS DoH was the review of germline genetic tests submitted by external clinical labs https://www.wadsworth.org/regulatory/clep/clinical-labs/obtain-permit/test-approval with a recent focus on NGS-based submissions. In many ways I’ve become a generalist and one benefit was the realization that a growing population of reproductive age women was aware of their BRCA status, had an unmet screening need during lactation and that we could reach these women directly.