Current Research and Scholarly Interests
For the past decade, Dr. Jeffrey's lab has performed molecular profiling of cancer cells with the goal of identifying tumor-specific therapies for the personalized treatment of cancer.
She was a key member of the collaborative Stanford/Norway team that pioneered the use of DNA microarrays to measure global gene expression in solid tumors and that developed the currently accepted classification schema of breast cancer molecular subtypes based on gene expression profiles: including low and high proliferation luminal, ERBB2(HER2)-overexpressing, and basal-like breast cancers (then, focusing attention on triple-negative breast cancers, TNBCs). Her lab then refined RNA amplification techniques and developed expertise in the transcriptional profiling of tiny quantities of tumor tissue or RNA isolated from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor samples. It also developed a bank of patient-derived TNBCs for preclinical drug testing.
Her research currently involves extracting, profiling, and growing circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood and disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) from bone marrow to shed light on different tumor cell populations involved in the metastatic process and to help guide selection of appropriate therapies in individual cancer patients. To facilitate this, Dr. Jeffrey and colleagues from the Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Genome Technology Center invented the MagSweeper, an automated immunomagnetic separation device that isolates live rare cells with high purity and minimal impact on gene expression for high dimensional single cell molecular analyses or tumor cell growth in culture. Her group is funded to continue this work through use or development of additional technologies, including both continuous-flow and droplet-based microfluidic devices, for antibody-based or label-free tumor cell capture, characterization, and growth. Tumor types being investigated include those from patients with primary or metastatic breast cancer or patients with colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver. Dr. Jeffrey's group also studies the role of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in evaluating efficacy of surgical resection of metastases from colorectal cancer. Her lab collaborates closely with Prof Amy Herr's group at UC Berkeley Bioengineering to determine protein signaling pathway activity in single tumor cells.
Dr. Jeffrey's lab is most recently funded to expand their studies on real-time capture and characterization of CTCs and other rare or associated cells, and their experience with patient-derived tumor models, toward pre-clinical development of potential new diagnostics or therapies for treating cancer, including prediction of hormone responsiveness (with Prof George Sledge), exosome-targeting (with Prof AC Matin), and use of metastases-inhibiting antibodies (with Prof Shoshana Levy).
In the past, Dr. Jeffrey worked with Dr. Robert Mah at NASA Ames Research Center to study multiplex in-vivo physiologic attributes of breast tumors in real-time using a multisensor NASA Smart Probe that she co-developed with Dr. Mah.