Researcher Honored with ASCO Young Investigator Award

Grant will fund research on disparities in breast cancer research.

Pricila Barreto-Coelho, M.D., hematology and oncology chief fellow at Sylvester, was awarded ASCO's Conquer Cancer Career Young Investigator Award.
Pricila Barreto-Coelho, M.D., received ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Career Young Investigator Award.

Pricila Barreto-Coelho, M.D., hematology and oncology chief fellow at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was recently awarded a Conquer Cancer Career Young Investigator (YIA) Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

She was honored at ASCO’s 2023 annual meeting, June 2-6, in Chicago.

Dr. Barreto-Coelho received the award based on her research proposal on diversity and inclusion in breast cancer, which she developed under the mentorship of Sophia George, Ph.D., Sylvester’s associate director for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences in the Miller School’s Division of Gynecologic Oncology; and Judith Hurley, M.D., an oncologist and researcher at the Miller School.

“As a physician seeing breast cancer patients, Priscila has been at the forefront of patient care, and she remains curious about the disparate outcomes of her patients,” said Dr. George. “I am delighted that this award will allow her to answer some enigmatic observations about Black women and their responses to hormonal therapies. This award will also support her career development as a physician-scientist.”

Conquer Cancer Grants

This year’s Conquer Cancer grants and awards went to oncology professionals representing 33 countries around the world. The YIA provides research funding to promising young physicians during the final years of training to support their transition to faculty appointments and to encourage quality research in clinical oncology. At the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting, 91 investigators were presented with YIAs. The award is a one-year grant totaling $50,000 to fund personnel and research expenses.

“As a medical oncology fellow starting my career, this can create an impact, as it validates my research and ideas and will create means to pursue it further,” said Dr. Barreto-Coelho.

According to Dr. Hurley, Dr. Barreto-Coelho is “an incredibly intelligent, highly motivated and resourceful person.”

“Her intellectual curiosity and compassion have led her into working on disparities in cancer care, and superior organizational skills have allowed her to be unbelievably productive very early in her academic career,” said Dr. Hurley, who has worked with Dr. Barreto-Coelho for five years.

Decreasing the Research Gap in Breast Cancer

Dr. Barreto-Coelho has been involved with disparities research in breast cancer since medical school, and it is an area of health care she is passionate about.

“We know that Black and other minority populations have been excluded from clinical trials. Many of the treatments we use have not been specifically validated on these populations, and my goal is to decrease this gap,” she said.

The funds Dr. Barreto-Coelho will receive from this award will be used to study post-menopausal women with hormone-positive breast cancer and their response to hormonal therapy. The study will also focus on hormones and inflammation.

Addressing Disparities in Survival Rates

According to Dr. Barreto-Coelho, breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women in the United States, with the estrogen receptor-positive/HER2-negative subtype being the most common type of disease.

“Although Black women have a similar incidence of breast cancer compared to white women, they experience worse outcomes,” said Dr. Barreto-Coelho. “The disparity in survival has been attributed to a lack of access to care and the increased rate of triple-negative breast cancer among Black women.”

Dr. Barreto-Coelho’s work aims to discover the reasons behind the differences to help create new steps to decrease these variances.

Tags: American Society of Clinical Oncology, breast cancer, cancer disparities, Dr. Pricila Barreto-Coelho, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, young investigator awards