Mayo Clinic's Molecular Analysis of Human Diseases Laboratory investigates the molecular mechanisms of action of multiple hormone receptors including estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) and the glucocorticoid receptor in disease development, progression and treatment. The laboratory uses state-of-the-art and cutting-edge technologies to dissect how the actions of hormone receptors are altered in a variety of disease states and to uncover novel ways in which these receptors can be therapeutically targeted for treatment purposes.

At present, we have a breadth of research projects aimed at elucidating the role of specific hormone receptors, their associated pathways and their downstream targets in diseases such as breast and ovarian cancers, osteoporosis, and mitochondrial myopathies. To address such complex disorders, we rely on the use of cell culture systems, animal models and human pathological tissue in our efforts to offer novel solutions to these devastating diseases.

Recent findings from our laboratory have uncovered novel mechanisms by which ERβ functions as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer. We have characterized the importance of endoxifen, a tamoxifen metabolite, in the treatment of ERα-positive breast cancer. We have shown that activation of glucocorticoid receptor activity in endocrine-resistant breast cancer may offer therapeutic benefit to patients with this disease. We have identified novel estrogen-regulated microRNAs (miRNAs) that are important for bone homeostasis and that may be useful as novel therapeutics for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. We have also identified the KLF10 transcription factor as an estrogen-regulated gene in which loss-of-function results in the development of a variety of disorders in mice including osteopenia, tendinopathies and mitochondrial myopathies only in female animals.

Our research team functions in a highly collaborative and dynamic manner. We embrace the core values of Mayo Clinic and strive on a daily basis to provide more effective and less toxic treatment options for current and future patients. Findings from our laboratory are transformative, and we have successfully moved our basic science discoveries into the clinic in the form of three early-phase clinical trials to date.

About Dr. Hawse

John R. Hawse, Ph.D., is an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Hawse's research focuses primarily on hormone receptor biology in normal physiology and disease states.