Iron is essential for the growth of cancer cells and restricting its supply may have a potential role in cancer therapy. Deferoxamine, an iron chelator currently the treatment of choice for iron overload diseases, has shown promise as an anti-cancer agent in multiple studies. In recent work, Dr. Brard has found that iron chelators inhibit the growth of ovarian cancer cell lines, cause cell death, and block angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels). But getting the iron chelator inside cells, to be specific for ovarian cancer cells and to be less toxic to normal tissues are issues Dr. Brard is addressing in his research project. He also will study how these chelators exert anti-cancer activity. Findings may lead to a new class of treatments for ovarian cancer.
Dr. Brard began his research career with graduate studies in chemistry at Northwestern University and his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his post-doctoral fellowship, he obtained his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He has been at Women and Infants’ Hospital since 1998, first as a resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology, then as a fellow in Gynecologic Oncology. Following the completion of his fellowship in June of 2005, he began his faculty appointment as assistant professor at Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Shortly thereafter he was selected as a BIRCWH scholar, an NIH-funded, institutional K12 mechanism. More recently, Dr. Brard was awarded a NINDS/NIH R21 grant. Dr. Brard’s research is focused on such diverse areas as synthetic organic chemistry, molecular and cellular biology, and animal studies. Current efforts have focused on the use of both natural product and synthetic derivatives in the treatment of neuroblastoma, gynecologic, and other solid tumors. Funding includes diverse sources such as the Program in Women’s Oncology, Brown University, private foundations and the National Institutes of Health.