Image showing a researcher using a microscope to conduct breast cancer research Conducting translational research to improve treatment options

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


The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE supports translational breast cancer research that can be quickly applied to clinical practice so that patients have access to better treatment options and care. The SPORE also provides programs that offer funding for innovative research projects and mentorship for rising investigators. Three cores within the SPORE provide vital research support and services.

Investigators in the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE 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 research consortium was established to aid and expedite the development of sophisticated breast cancer research and its application to clinical practice. SPORE investigators also collaborate with other Mayo Clinic researchers in the Center for Individualized Medicine and with external researchers through the National Institutes of Health's Pharmacogenomics Research Network.

Research projects

The Breast Cancer SPORE supports four main translational research projects:

  • Cancer Risks for Mutations in Breast Cancer Predisposition Genes. In this project, researchers hope to learn more about genetic mutations so that women can receive accurate information about their cancer risk. Read more.
  • Therapeutic Targeting of Estrogen Receptor Beta in Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Researchers are advancing development of novel drug targets and treatment strategies to more effectively treat and manage triple negative breast cancer. Read more.
  • Measles Virus-Based Immunovirotherapy in the Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer. Investigators are developing oncolytic viruses that preferentially infect and kill cancer cells and testing them in clinical studies. Read more.
  • Pharmacogenomics of Aromatase Inhibitors in Early-Stage Postmenopausal Breast Cancer. This project is testing the hypothesis that genetic variability plays an important role in aromatase inhibitor response and that this effect might be through the regulation of estrogen suppression. Read more.

The SPORE's three cores provide administrative and organizational support; biospecimen and pathology services; and biostatistics and bioinformatics expertise. The Developmental Research Program gives awards for innovative laboratory, population and clinical study proposals, and the Career Enhancement Program mentors junior faculty launching independent research projects.


The Breast Cancer SPORE has a long track record of performing practice-changing clinical trials and translational research. The breast cancer research program at Mayo Clinic was founded in 1979 by oncologist James N. Ingle, M.D., who also became the principal investigator for the first Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE grant, which was awarded in 2005 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The grant was successfully renewed by Dr. Ingle in 2011.

Matthew P. Goetz, M.D., received the first Breast SPORE Career Enhancement Award in 2005, became co-leader of a SPORE Project in 2009, and then became co-principal investigator of the overall Breast Cancer SPORE in 2014. Dr. Goetz led the grant through renewal again in September 2016, when the NCI awarded Mayo Clinic a five-year $12.1 million grant.

A SPORE, or Specialized Program of Research Excellence, is a cornerstone of the NCI's efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of six cancer research centers with a currently funded NCI SPORE grant for breast cancer research.

The Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer SPORE is part of the Women's Cancer Program, a formal research program within the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Principal investigator

Dr. Goetz is now principal investigator of the SPORE. Dr. Goetz is an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and a professor of oncology and pharmacology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. 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.