Photograph of Dr. Fergus Couch using a microscope to examine samples Conducting translational research to improve treatment options

With funding from the National Cancer Institute, the SPORE supports three research projects vital to advancing clinical care.


The vision of the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE is that the burden of breast cancer can be reduced by conducting innovative translational research accomplished by addressing research questions that are vitally important to everyone affected by breast cancer. The mission of the SPORE is to accomplish this vision.

The Breast Cancer SPORE addresses significant problems related to breast cancer, with the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality. We're accomplishing this goal through research projects that focus on breast cancer risk and prevention and the development of a novel approach to treat premenopausal breast cancer that is estrogen receptor (ER) positive and HER2 negative (HER2-). This type of cancer is also called ER+/HER2- breast cancer.

To enhance our work, our investigators collaborate with researchers in other breast cancer SPOREs and leading breast cancer programs in the United States through the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium. This consortium was established to aid and expedite the development of sophisticated breast cancer research and its application to clinical practice. The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE also collaborates with Academic and Community Cancer Research United (ACCRU).

Research projects

The Breast Cancer SPORE supports three translational research projects:

  • The Influence of Variants in ER-Positive Breast Cancer Predisposition Genes on Breast Cancer Risk and Response to Therapy. Researchers are investigating genetic mutations so that women can receive accurate information about their cancer risk. Read more.
  • Improving the Endocrine Management of Premenopausal ER+/HER2- Breast Cancer. Researchers are developing a new drug called Z-endoxifen to treat premenopausal estrogen receptor-expressing breast cancer. Read more.
  • Development of a Novel Multi-Antigen Breast Cancer Prevention Vaccine for Premalignant Disease. Investigators are developing a new vaccine that targets common antigens found on all the major types of breast cancer. Read more.

These research projects are supported by the SPORE's three highly interactive cores: the Administrative Core, the Biospecimens and Pathology Core, and the Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Patient Registry Core.

Investigator support

The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE also provides research awards and support for investigators.

The SPORE's Developmental Research Program supports innovative and scientifically meritorious research projects that have the greatest potential to be translated into clinically important applications to prevent, diagnose and treat breast cancer. Read more.

The SPORE's Career Enhancement Program is for highly qualified investigators who have the greatest potential to conduct meaningful translational research and develop independent research programs to reduce the burden and mortality of breast cancer. Qualified women, minority individuals, veterans and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Read more.

NCI funding

The SPORE has a long track record of performing practice-changing translational research.

The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE grant was first awarded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 2005 through a competitive application process. Since then, the NCI has awarded each grant renewal application — 2011, 2016 and most recently in 2022, when the NCI awarded Mayo Clinic a five-year, $12.1 million grant for the SPORE.

The Breast Cancer SPORE is part of the Women's Cancer Program, a formal research program within Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Cancer Center is one of six cancer research centers in the United States with a currently funded NCI SPORE grant for breast cancer research.

A SPORE, or Specialized Program of Research Excellence, is a cornerstone of the NCI's efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. In addition to the Breast Cancer SPORE, the Cancer Center has three other NCI SPORE grants and a shared SPORE. Read more about these five SPORE grants.

SPORE leadership

Photograph of Matthew P. Goetz, M.D., of Mayo Clinic Dr. Goetz

The principal investigator and director of the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE is Matthew P. Goetz, M.D.

Dr. Goetz received the SPORE's first Career Enhancement Award in 2005. He became co-leader of a SPORE research project in 2009 and became co-principal investigator of the SPORE in 2014. He became the overall principal investigator and director in 2018.

Dr. Goetz also is a practicing oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Goetz is a professor of oncology and a professor of pharmacology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. He is recognized with the distinction of being the Erivan K. Haub Family Professor of Cancer Research Honoring Richard F. Emslander, M.D. Dr. Goetz's research focuses on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer and the development of novel therapeutics for endocrine-resistant breast cancer. His laboratory and clinical work are funded by the National Institutes of Health. Read Dr. Goetz's research profile.