Radiology Report: Fowler Research Group

Posted on May 2021

In 2013 Assistant Professor Amy Fowler, MD, PhD started the Fowler Research Group, a collaborative, multidisciplinary lab that focuses on translational breast cancer imaging research. The lab aims to advance the use of molecular imaging to better understand the biology of breast cancer, including its response to targeted drug therapies and early identification of drug resistance. Specifically, Dr. Fowler is interested in quantitative imaging of steroid hormone receptors (estrogen and progesterone) and their signaling pathways, since most breast cancer deaths occur in patients with hormone receptor positive disease. Continue reading to learn more about the exciting research in this lab.

The lab has conducted many interesting projects over the years. Recently, Dr. Fowler had her manuscript, titled “Measuring Glucose Uptake in Primary Invasive Breast Cancer Using Simultaneous Time-of-Flight Breast PET/MRI: A Method Comparison Study with Prone PET/CT”, published in the journal Radiology: Imaging Cancer. The study compared simultaneous breast PET/MRI scans to PET/CT scans, and found that PET/MRI scans provided an acceptable approximation of tumor glucose uptake and metabolism of primary invasive breast cancer compared to the PET/CT scans. The same journal also published a commentary on Dr. Fowler’s study, which noted the important contribution of Dr. Fowler’s research as a baseline for countless future research projects.

Dr. Fowler and the rest of the research group are currently working on numerous clinical trials. Two ongoing trials focus on simultaneous breast PET/MRI scans for quantifying estrogen and progesterone receptor expression in breast cancer. Other trials utilize PET/CT and targeted tracers to optimize estrogen and progesterone receptor antagonist drug dosing for patients with metastatic breast cancer. They are also involved in a national multicenter trial that looks at Fluoroestradiol PET as a predictive measure for endocrine therapy in patients with newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer.

In addition to the clinical trials, the lab is working on a number of other research projects. The lab is doing preclinical work examining the effect of progesterone receptor gene mutations in breast cancer cells and tumor xenografts. They are also studying progesterone receptor mediated regulation of glucose uptake in breast cancer.

In the future, Dr. Fowler plans to incorporate progesterone receptor imaging using breast PET/MRI as a biomarker for response to neoadjuvant endocrine therapy for patients with newly diagnosed hormone receptor positive breast cancer. She also wants to do further research into low dose breast PET/MRI for screening women with high risk for breast cancer. The lab will continue their innovative research to help provide more information and improved treatment for those with breast cancer.

Learn more about the lab’s current research here: