The goal of this research proposal is to address the biological underpinnings of breast cancer mortality disparities in Chicago. African American (AA) women in the city have a 4-5 fold greater risk of death from hormone-dependent breast cancer compared to white women, even after controlling for stage at diagnosis, treatment, and other known prognostic factors. This strongly suggests that biologic mechanisms are activated in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancers arising in AA women that result in a higher rate of distant metastases and/or resistance to endocrine therapies. We propose a metabolomic analysis of serum from AA and white women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, as well as a racially diverse, healthy control population, to identify potential oncometabolites that promote aggressive phenotypes in ER+ breast cancer cells. We will also explore the association between candidate oncometabolites and established demographic variables related to poor outcomes in AA women with breast cancer, including neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation and individual patient and tumor characteristics. This project involves clinical/translational scientists, a cancer epidemiologist, an economist and cancer biologists from Chicago CHEC institutions as well as Mercy Medical Center as our community partner. This unique team will address a critical health equity problem affecting AA women in Chicago while providing a strong training environment in disparity research for early stage investigators and under-represented minority students.

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