Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.S.Biol., F.R.S.Chem., F.R.S.Med. (U.K.)¹ is the Dean for Research and Interim Director of the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). He is also Professor of Oncology and Co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Program at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Breast cancer research at Georgetown University consistently ranks in the top 10 world-wide as assessed by Thompson Scientific (ISI Citation Index) in its two reviews of breast cancer to date (2001; 2005).
A native of Northern Ireland, Dr. Clarke earned a D.Sc. in 1999, a Ph.D. in 1986, and a M.Sc. in 1982 (each in Biochemistry) from the Queen’s University of Belfast, and a B.Sc. (Biological Sciences) in 1980 from the University of Ulster. He completed his postdoctoral training in 1988 as a Breast Cancer Study Group Fellow with Dr. Marc Lippman at the Medical Breast Section of the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health, U.S.A.). Dr. Clarke joined the Faculty at Georgetown University in 1989, where he served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Georgetown University Faculty Senate (2004-2007).
An elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Society of Medicine, and the Royal Society of Biology (U.K.), Dr. Clarke also is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research, Endocrine Society, Society for Endocrinology, New York Academy of Sciences, and the American Chemical Society. Regularly invited to speak at international and national meetings, Dr. Clarke serves on the editorial board of over a dozen peer review journals, e.g., Cancer Research (Senior Editor), Endocrine-Related Cancer (Senior Editor), Clinical Cancer Research, British Journal of Cancer, and Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. He regularly serves on state, national, and international grant peer-review study sections. Having completed tenure as Chair of the N.I.H. study section that reviews basic science research in complementary and alternative medicine, Dr. Clarke served as Chair of the Basic Mechanisms of Cancer Therapeutics study section at N.I.H. (2011-2013).
An internationally recognized leader in breast cancer research, Dr. Clarke studies how hormones and growth factors affect breast cancer. Focusing initially on the interactions among hormones and anticancer drugs, his work expanded to include the cellular and molecular mechanisms that explain how breast cancers become resistant to hormone and cytotoxic therapies. He and his colleagues developed a series of hormone resistant breast cancer models that are widely used in the field. Dr. Clarke leads an N.I.H. funded center at Georgetown University; he directs a Center for Cancer Systems Biology funded through the Integrative Cancer Biology Program. Previously, he co-Directed with Dr. Subha Madhavan an In Silico Research Center of Excellence.
Dr. Clarke is currently developing and applying novel bioinformatic methods in translational breast cancer studies (reviewed in Clarke et al. Nature Rev Cancer, 2008). He and his colleagues have also begun to define a novel molecular signaling network that incorporates the unfolded protein response to endoplasmic reticulum stress (reviewed in Tyson et al., Nature Rev Cancer, 2011). This signaling network controls the hormonal regulation of breast cancer cell fate. Key network components include molecular signaling that integrates a coordinated regulation of both apoptosis and autophagy with critical adaptations in the metabolome. Individual network genes supported by functional data from Dr. Clarke and his collaborators include BECN1 and select members of the BCL2 gene family, IRF1, mTOR, NFκB, and XBP1. Dr. Clarke has authored/co-authored over 250 publications and he has several patents, mostly in the field of breast cancer research.