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Kabara Cancer Research Institute

Research spanning decades has revolutionized the treatment of breast cancer, leading to earlier diagnosis and improved outcomes. Despite tremendous advances, breast cancer still claims the lives of more 42,000 women in the U.S. each year. 

Our Kabara Cancer Research Institute, led by Paraic Kenny, PhD, studies breast cancer at the molecular level using genomics, molecular and cellular biology, and genetically engineered mouse models. The team’s focus is precision oncology. This new era of genomic medicine tailors treatments to each patient based on their unique genes—and offers newfound hope. 

News conference announcing Steppin' Out in Pink breast cancer fundraising results.
Breast cancer research scientist working at desk with colleague in background.
Research scientists in cancer biobank.
Cancer research technician working in clinical laboratory.
Breast cancer research scientist working in laboratory.

Support local breast cancer research

Life-changing breast cancer research happens in our backyard. However, it wouldn’t be possible without your tremendous support. Funding from Gundersen Medical Foundation’s annual Steppin’ Out in Pink breast cancer fundraising walk enables our research scientists to move quickly to investigate promising new therapies and, often, to perform studies on patient specimens while the patient is going through treatment. Research directly impacts the way we care for your family and friends—and future generations. Join us in supporting breast cancer research initiatives at Gundersen. 

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  • 780

    patients enrolled in our precision oncology research cohort

  • 2.2

    trillion DNA letters genomically sequenced since 2016

  • 75

    breast cancer studies published in medical journals

Breast cancer research accomplishments

Precision medicine

Results of precision oncology research at Gundersen’s oncology research lab are promising. To date, we: 

  • Have successfully worked alongside Gundersen oncologists to demonstrate the effectiveness of FDA-approved lung cancer therapies in breast cancer patients with MET and ROS1 mutations 

  • Are among the key contributors to Wisconsin’s Precision Medicine Molecular Tumor Board. This statewide forum of clinicians, pathologists and scientists has provided expert guidance on more than 10,000 cancer cases to date 

  • Developed research models in the laboratory to characterize mutations in important cancer genes, like GATA3 and BRAF. These findings guide future therapies in diseases with similar genetic patterns 

3D breast cell cultures

Our researchers are among the pioneering developers of methods for physiological three-dimensional culture of breast cells outside the body and the application of this technique to study the complexities of breast cancer. 

Genetically engineered mouse models

We’ve developed genetically engineered mouse models for GRB7 and GATA3, to study the impact of these genes on breast cancer development, as well as methods for the next-generation sequencing of mouse tumors. 

Antibody-based drug development

Building on a decade-long program that implicated the pubertal mammary growth factor, Amphiregulin, in the development of estrogen receptor positive mouse and human breast tumors, we successfully developed the first experimental antibody treatment targeting cell surface Amphiregulin. Our subsequent work has described excessive Amphiregulin activity in several other solid tumor types, broadening the range of tumors in which this treatment option could be explored. 

Tools for next generation sequencing (NGS) analysis

We’ve developed several tools to provide enhanced interpretation of clinical tumor sequencing reports. These include a tool to infer the position of amplicon boundaries (which affects the likelihood of tumor response to therapies targeting amplified genes) as well as machine-learning approaches to infer tumor-of-origin based on mutation profiles from specimens with diagnostic uncertainty. 

Breast cancer researchers

Cancer research scientist seated and smiling in clinical lab.

Paraic Kenny, PhD

Director of the Kabara Cancer Research Institute and Gundersen Cancer Biobank   

Dr. Kenny has 25 years of experience in breast cancer research and is a clinical adjunct associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  

Email Dr. Kenny
Breast cancer researcher standing in laboratory.

Kristopher Lofgren, PhD

Research scientist

Dr. Lofgren is an expert in mouse models of mammary gland development and tumorigenesis, with emphasis on receptor tyrosine kinase pathway signaling. 

Email Dr. Lofgren


Grb7 knockout mice develop normally but litters born to knockout females fail to thrive
Published on: 2023-12-23

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest a regulatory role for Grb7 in mammary lactational physiology.

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Exceptional Response to Crizotinib With Subsequent Response to Cabozantinib in Metastatic, ROS1-GOPC Fusion-Mutated Breast Cancer
Published on: 2023-07-24

No abstract

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Pan-cancer distribution of cleaved cell-surface amphiregulin, the target of the GMF-1A3 antibody drug conjugate
Published on: 2022-09-16

Amphiregulin is a transmembrane protein which, when cleaved by the TACE/ADAM17 protease, releases a soluble epidermal growth factor receptor ligand domain that promotes proliferation of normal and malignant cells. We previously described a rabbit monoclonal antibody, GMF-1A3, that selectively recognizes the cell-associated cleaved amphiregulin epitope. Antibody-drug conjugates had anti-tumor activity against human breast cancer xenografts. Several tumor types express amphiregulin, but evidence...

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Optimized infection control practices augment the robust protective effect of vaccination for ESRD patients during a hemodialysis facility SARS-CoV-2 outbreak
Published on: 2022-07-22

CONCLUSIONS: Prompt recognition of an infection cluster and rapid intervention efforts successfully ended the outbreak. Alongside consistent adherence to core infection prevention measures, vaccination was highly effective in reducing disease incidence and morbidity in this vulnerable population.

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Emergence and onward transmission of a SARS-CoV-2 E484K variant among household contacts of a bamlanivimab-treated patient
Published on: 2022-03-01

The implementation of monoclonal antibody therapeutics during the COVID-19 pandemic altered the selective pressures encountered by SARS-CoV-2, raising the possibility of selection for resistant variants. Within-host viral evolution was reported in treated immunocompromised individuals but whether this signifies a real risk of onward transmission is unclear. We used a regional SARS-CoV-2 sequencing program to monitor lineages with clinically relevant variants in identified patients, which...

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To have Dr. Kenny and his research team working alongside us to better understand the conditions affecting our patients is very valuable. It’s something that I believe few institutions in the world have, let alone here in Wisconsin. It puts us in a very elite category.
Portrait of doctor Ben Parsons.
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How to connect

We’re here to collaborate and answer your questions. 

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1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

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