Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MD,FACP
Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, directs a clinical and laboratory research program in cancer genetics
at the University of Chicago. She is working to solve a medical mystery that affects many black women. Why do black women,
she wonders, often develop breast cancer at younger ages than white women and why do black women have higher mortality rates?
She hopes to answer these questions by comparing the genetic profiles
of women with breast cancer in the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. Her research, already under way in Chicago and
her native Nigeria, will analyze the genetic material of 100,000 women who developed breast cancer before the age of 45.
Although available evidence suggests that genetic factors may explain
ethnic differences in the biology of breast cancers, little information is available regarding mutations of the genes associated
with breast cancer in ethnic groups other than Caucasians. Olopade's laboratory was the first to describe recurrent mutations
of the first known breast cancer gene in extended African-American families with breast cancer.
"This should be a high priority research question," she says. "The
nature of mutations in the breast cancer genes in Africa is just beginning to be revealed by the evaluation of families of
combined African and European or American ancestry."
Dr. Olopade received her bachelor’s and medical degrees with
distinction from the University of Ibadan in her native Nigeria and served as a medical officer at the Nigerian Navy Hospital.
She came to the United States as a resident in internal medicine at Cook County Hospital, Chicago, where she was named chief
medical resident. She did her hematology/oncology fellowship training at the University of Chicago and studied the molecular
genetics of cancer under Dr. Janet Rowley, Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine.
A former James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar and ASCO Young Investigator
awardee, Dr. Olopade served as chairperson of the ASCO task force on cancer genetics education. Dr. Olopade has delivered
more than 100 lectures on topics including breast cancer, colon cance, and genetic testing. Her contributions to the professional
literature include more than 100 articles, book chapters, and abstracts on topics including the genetics of cancer, and serving
as a reviewer for several journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the New England Journal of Medicine.