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Fergus Couch, Ph.D., receives Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research

Fergus Couch, Ph.D. (PATH ’97), chair of the Division of Experimental Pathology in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, received the ninth annual Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research, funded by Susan G. Komen, from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

The award recognizes an investigator of no more than 50 years of age whose novel and significant work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment or prevention of breast cancer. Dr. Couch was honored for his seminal work in identifying the inherited genes and mutations that predispose individuals to breast cancer. Dr. Couch also is the Zbigniew and Anna M. Scheller Professor of Medical Research.

Much of his research has focused on determining the clinical relevance of inherited variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in breast cancer predisposition genes using genetic epidemiology and molecular biology approaches.

Dr. Couch is a national leader in cancer genetics and a founder and member of the Evidence-based Network for the Interpretation of Germline Mutant Alleles (ENIGMA) consortium, and a leader in the BRCA Challenge and the Prospective Registry of Multiplex Testing (PROMPT) initiatives aimed at understanding alterations in cancer predisposition genes. He also is a co-founder of the Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2 (CIMBA), a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Consortium (TNBCC), and a long-term member of the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.

Working with members of these consortia, Dr. Couch has led genome-wide association studies to identify common genetic variants that influence the risk of estrogen receptor negative and triple negative breast cancer and modify risks of breast cancer among carriers of germline BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

In recent research, Dr. Couch has worked to estimate risks of breast cancer associated with pathogenic variants identified by clinical genetic testing using multigene panels and leads an effort to identify genetic factors that account of the missing hereditability of breast cancer.

 

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