Roberto A. Leon Ferre, M.D.

Why did you choose to study clinical and translational research?

Roberto A. Leon Ferre, M.D., is a scholar in the CCaTS KL2 Mentored Career Development Program at Mayo Clinic.

I am a medical oncologist with a clinical focus in breast cancer and a research focus in triple-negative breast cancer and immuno-oncology. Triple-negative breast cancer is the most aggressive type of breast cancer, and one for which unfortunately we still have to rely on traditional chemotherapy.

I believe that some of the most meaningful progress made in cancer care has been made through the collaboration between clinicians and basic researchers, who synergize to develop new approaches that will ultimately benefit patients.

I truly believe in the translational model of starting with a clinical observation in patients seen in the clinic to identify areas of need, taking those questions to the laboratory to develop new approaches, and then bringing back the results to the clinic in the form of improved diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic tools, or a combination thereof. In my opinion, patients cannot only be the inspiration of research, but need to also be the ultimate recipients of research findings.

What type of research are you doing?

My research is focused on furthering the understanding of the complex interactions between the immune system and breast cancer tumor cells. I am studying the different immune cell subtypes that infiltrate triple-negative breast cancer tumors and the different immune cells present in the peripheral blood of patients with this disease.

I seek to understand how different immune profiles in the tumor, peripheral blood or both impact clinical outcomes and response to treatment. To do this, my team is utilizing highly multiplexed platforms that allow for the concurrent evaluation of large numbers of markers in limited blood and tissue samples.

Why Mayo Clinic?

I would not have it any other way. Patients are the motivation for all of my research endeavors. At its core, Mayo values research that will improve the care of our patients. I am privileged to be able to collaborate with like-minded people who view research as a tool to impact our patients' lives.

The amount of collective expertise that Mayo Clinic has, the unparalleled mentorship and Mayo's incredible infrastructure make it a dream place to develop clinical and translational research expertise.

What are you looking forward to as a KL2 scholar?

I am excited to receive formal training in the use of novel technologies to study immune responses in patients with cancer.

Ultimately, I aim to leverage the training I receive during my KL2 scholar time to first identify predictive biomarkers to better select breast cancer patients likely to benefit from immunotherapy, and then design clinical trials evaluating rational combinations of novel immunotherapeutic agents with targeted therapies, cytotoxins, viral agents and other treatment modalities.

To achieve this, I intend to continue to foster collaborations with a multidisciplinary team including basic scientists, pathologists, bioinformaticians, statisticians and clinicians from other disciplines.

Review Dr. Leon Ferre's publications on PubMed.