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Roisin Maritxell Connolly, M.B.B.S.
Assistant Professor of Oncology
Languages: English, French, German, Irish
Expertise: Breast Cancer, Clinical Trials, Medical Oncology
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The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964
600 N. Wolfe Street
Sheikh Zayed Tower
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Assistant Professor of Oncology
Roisin Maritxell Connolly is a long way from her native Ireland. The primary driving force that landed her here? The opportunity to engage in meaningful research, which she began during her fellowship training at Johns Hopkins and continues today as a physician-scientist.
Dr. Connolly notices that in the U.S., patients—many of whom are well-educated about the availability of clinical trials and research—take a proactive approach to their disease. “Patients come here [Johns Hopkins] seeking out excellent medical care and the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. They understand that the oncologists they see here are experts in their field, both nationally and internationally,” she says. Dr. Connolly is fast establishing herself as one of these experts.
The overarching goals of her research include improving outcomes for breast cancer patients, both those with early stage and metastatic disease. Like other researchers at Hopkins, Dr. Connolly is examining ways to identify biomarkers in blood or tissue samples to predict patients’ response to treatment. The ultimate goal is to tailor treatment to the individual.
“We’re trying to develop treatments that are different from the norm,” she says.
Dr. Connolly is about to embark on an exciting study whose results may enable some breast cancer patients to eliminate chemotherapy from their treatment regimen, thereby avoiding the uncomfortable side effects associated with it.
The standard treatment for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer is to receive chemotherapy and anti-HER2 therapy (trastuzumab) after undergoing surgery to remove their tumor. It is evident, however, that a subgroup of these patients may benefit from anti-HER2 therapy alone—a relatively non-toxic approach—and may not need chemotherapy at all.
For 12 weeks prior to undergoing surgery, Dr. Connolly and her collaborators will administer to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer a novel anti-HER2 agent, pertuzumab, in addition to trastuzumab. They hope to identify biomarkers that will predict response to the combination. The long-term goal? To determine if a subgroup of patients can be treated with this therapeutic combination in the absence of chemotherapy.
“Our hope is that the results from this trial may determine who will not need chemotherapy,” Dr. Connolly says.
- Assistant Professor of Oncology
Centers & Institutes
- MBBS, University of Dublin Trinity College (2001)
- Royal Perth Hospital (2003)
- Royal College of Physicians Ireland / Internal Medicine (2005)
- Royal College of Physicians Ireland / Medical Oncology (2008)
- Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine / Oncology (2011)
- Pending/Scheduled / Oncology
Research & Publications
Selected PublicationsDr. Connolly is an Assistant Professor of Oncology with an interest in breast cancer. Her principal research activities consist of designing and conducting clinical trials that test investigational new drugs in the treatment of breast cancer. Dr. Connollys current focus relates to the investigation of novel agents in both the neoadjuvant and metastatic settings. She has specific expertise in the use of epigenetic modifiers in breast cancer patients. In addition, she is interested in developing both tissue and imaging-based biomarkers of response to breast cancer therapies. As a clinical investigator with a focus on translational drug development, her goal is to improve outcomes for patients with breast cancer in a research environment.
Barron TI, Connolly R, Bennett K, Feely J, Kennedy MJ. Early discontinuation of tamoxifen: a lesson for oncologists. Cancer 2007 Mar 1; 109(5):832-9. (PMID 17243168)
Connolly R, Visvanathan K. Research Highlights. Pharmacogenomics Dec 2008; 9 (12): 1797-99. (PMID 19072638)
Connolly R, Wolff AC. Pregnancy and fertility with breast cancer: what are the options? Oncology (Williston Park). 2009 May; 23(6):478, 481.(PMID 19544687)
Connolly R, McCaffrey JA. High-Dose Chemotherapy Plus Stem Cell Transplantation in Advanced Germ Cell Cancer: A Review. European Urology July 2009. 56(1): 57-64. (PMID 19303697)
Connolly R, Stearns V. The Role of Pharmacogenetics in Selection of Breast Cancer Treatment. Current Breast Cancer Reports 2009, 1:190-197
Connolly R, Stearns V. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Neoadjuvant Therapy for Primary Operable Breast Cancer: Challenges and Opportunities. Oncology (Williston Park) February 2010; 24(2):135-143.
Connolly RM, Wolff AC. International Disparities in Breast Cancer Outcomes: The Time to Close the Gap is Now. Oncology (Williston Park) 2010. Nov 30; 24(13):1236-7. (PMID 21192556)
Connolly R, Stearns V. Pharmacogenetics of Aromatase Inhibitors: Present Understanding and Looking to the Future. Current Breast Cancer Reports 2010; 2:138145.
Connolly RM, Rudek MA, Garrett-Mayer E, Jeter SC, Donehower MG, Wright LA, Zhao M, Fetting JH, Emens LA, Stearns V, Davidson NE, Baker SD, Wolff AC. Docetaxel Metabolism is not Altered by Imatinib: Findings from an Early Phase Study in Metastatic Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2011, Feb 25 [Epub ahead of print] (PMID 21350820)
Barron TI, Connolly RM, Sharp L, Bennett K, Visvanathan K. Beta-Blockers and Breast Cancer Mortality: A Population-Based Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2011 May 31 [Epub ahead of print] (PMID 21632503)
Connolly RM, Carducci M, Antanorakis E. Use of Androgen Deprivation Therapy in Prostate Cancer: Indications and Prevalence. Asian Journal of Andrology 2012 (in press)