Deborah K Armstrong, M.D.

Headshot of Deborah K Armstrong
  • Director, Breast and Ovarian Surveillance Service
  • Professor of Oncology


Breast Cancer, Cancer Genetics, Cancer Risk, Cervical Cancer, Gynecologic Cancers, Hereditary Breast Cancer, Medical Oncology, Ovarian Cancer more

Research Interests

Ovarian Cancer Clinical Trials; Breast Cancer Clinical Trials; Gynecologic Cancer Clinical Trials; Genetics of Familial Breast and Ovarian Cancer more

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Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964
401 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: 410-614-2743
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center - Google Maps

Johns Hopkins Medicine - Green Spring Station

Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964
10753 Falls Road
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Pavilion II
Lutherville, MD 21093
Phone: 410-583-2970
Johns Hopkins Medicine - Green Spring Station - Google Maps


Dr. Armstrong works primarily in the area of women's malignancies, with a particular emphasis on breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other gynecologic malignancies, and the genetics of breast and ovarian cancer. She directs the medical gynecologic oncology clinical service and oversees therapeutic clinical trials in gynecologic cancers. Dr. Armstrong's clinical focus is on the development of new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of breast cancer and gynecologic malignancies. Particular areas of interest are intraperitoneal therapy in ovarian cancer and targeted biologic therapies. Dr. Armstrong also directs the Kimmel Cancer Center's Breast and Ovarian Cancer Screening Service, a genetic counseling service that focuses on identifying patients at risk for cancer and examination of new strategies for cancer screening and prevention.

Dr. Armstrong has lectured locally, nationally and internationally. She is active in the Gynecologic Oncology Group, serving on the Medical Oncology, Developmental Therapeutics and Phase I GOG committees and as chair of several clinical trials through this group. She is a representative of the Southwest Oncology Group to the Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Armstrong also serves as a representative of Johns Hopkins to the National Cooperative Cancer Network serving on the ovarian cancer and breast cancer risk reduction panels. She has participated as a member of the Cancer Working Group for the Office of Research on Women's Health for the National Institutes of Health, as a scientific reviewer for the breast and ovarian cancer research programs of the Department of Defense and the National Cancer Institute, as a reviewer for the NCI Special Emphasis Panel for Insight Awards to Stamp Out Breast Cancer and as a member of the NCI SPORE Program parent committee.

Dr. Armstrong also is co-principal investigator for the NCI National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) Lead Academic Participating Site (LAPS) at Johns Hopkins, now the major avenue for adult oncology clinical trials in the country. Recent work includes immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in endometrial cancers with microsatellite instability and PARP inhibition in ovarian cancer. more


  • Director, Breast and Ovarian Surveillance Service
  • Professor of Oncology

Departments / Divisions

  • Oncology - Division of Women's Malignancies

Centers & Institutes



  • MD; The George Washington University School of Medicine (1984)


  • Internal Medicine; University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (1988)


  • Oncology; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1993)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Internal Medicine (Internal Medicine) (1987)
  • American Board of Internal Medicine (Medical Oncology) (1991)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The overall global research focus of Dr. Armstrong is on the development of new approaches to prevention, early detection and treatment of breast cancer and gynecologic malignancies. Her clinical focus covers three broad categories: treatment of gynecologic cancers, treatment of breast cancer, and genetic risk factors for breast and ovarian cancer with a particular emphasis on early detection and prevention for high risk women. 

Much of Dr. Armstrong's work in treatment of gynecologic malignancies has been done through the Gynecologic Oncology Group. She has served as a member of the Ovarian Cancer, Developmental Therapeutics, Phase I Committee and Medical Oncology Committees for the GOG. Completed studies through the GOG for which Dr. Armstrong has been a Principal Investigator include a phase I study of taxol, cisplatin and topotecan in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer, a phase I study if intraperitoneal paclimer microspheres in ovarian cancer, a randomized phase III study of IV cisplatin and paclitaxel vs. an intensive intraperitoneal approach using these drugs in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer, phase II studies of Bryostatin-1 in ovarian cancer and cervical cancer and a trial of carboplatin and cetuximab in recurrent ovarian cancer. GOG studies ongoing or in development for which Dr. Armstrong is an investigator include a phase III trial of paclitaxel and carboplatin with or without bevacizumab in recurrent platinum sensitive ovarian cancer, a randomized phase II trial of temozolomide with or without the PARP inhibitor ABT-888 in uterine leiomyosarcoma, and a phase I trial of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin and carboplatin with the PARP inhibitor ABD-888 and bevacizumab. 

In addition to work with GOG, Dr. Armstrong has worked at the institutional level on the development of new treatments for gynecologic malignancies. Current clinical trial directions include evaluation of the folate receptor alpha antagonist Farletuzumab in the treatment of both platinum resistant and platinum sensitive ovarian cancer, the use of sequential blockade of the VEGF pathway with the combination of bevacizumab and enzastaurin in gynecologic malignancies and targeting surface lectins with AGS8M4 in ovarian cancer. Ongoing areas of potential translational laboratory research include targeting Notch in ovarian cancer and identification and characterization of ovarian cancer stem cells.

Dr. Armstrong's work with breast and ovarian cancer patients has led to an increasing interest in identifying patients at increased risk of these diseases. Dr. Armstrong serves as director of the Breast and Ovarian Surveillance Service. This service provides genetic counseling and risk assessment for patients at an increased risk of developing these diseases. Ongoing trials through the high risk clinic evaluate screening, early detection and prevention. These studies include an ovarian cancer screening study (ROCA study), characterization of benign breast disease in women at increased risk for breast cancer and an evaluation of BRCA polymorphisms and clinical outcome in ovarian cancer. 

Clinical Trial Keywords

Phase I, II and III clinical trials; Cancer Genetics; Breast Cancer; Ovarian Cancer; Gynecologic Malignancies

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Messersmith, W.A.; Baker, S.D.; Lassiter, L.; Sullivan, R.A.; Dinh, K.; Almuete, V.I.; Wright, J.J.; Donehower, R.C.; Carducci, M.A.; Armstrong, D.K. Phase I trial of bortezomib in combination with docetaxel in patients with advanced solid tumors. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Feb 15;12(4):1270-1275.

Visvanathan, K.; Santor, D.; Ali, S.Z.; Brewster, A.; Arnold, A.; Armstrong, D.K.; Davidson, N.E.; Helzlsouer, K.J. The reliability of nipple aspirate and ductal lavage in women at increased risk for breast cancer-a potential tool for breast cancer risk assessment and biomarker evaluation. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 May;16(5):950-955.

Rudin, C.M.; Liu, W.; Desai, A.; Karrison, T.; Jiang, X.; Janisch, L.; Das, S.; Ramirez, J.; Poonkuzhali, B.; Schuetz, E.; Fackenthal, D.L.; Chen, P.; Armstrong, D.K.; Brahmer, J.R.; Fleming, G.F.; Vokes, E.E.; Carducci, M.A.; Ratain, M.J. Pharmacogenomic and pharmacokinetic determinants of erlotinib toxicity. J Clin Oncol. 2008 Mar 1;26(7):1119-1127.

Balmanoukian, A.; Zhang, Z.; Jeter, S.; Slater, S.; Armstrong, D.K.; Emens, L.A.; Fetting, J.H.; Wolff, A.C.; Davidson, N.E.; Jacobs, L.; Lange, J.; Tsangaris, T.N.; Zellars, R.; Gabrielson, E.; Stearns, V. African American women who receive primary anthracycline- and taxane-based chemotherapy for triple-negative breast cancer suffer worse outcomes compared with white women. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Aug 1;27(22):e35-37; author reply e38-39.

Zellars, R.C.; Stearns, V.; Frassica, D.; Asrari, F.; Tsangaris, T.; Myers, L.; DiPasquale, S.; Lange, J.R.; Jacobs, L.K.; Emens, L.A.; Armstrong, D.K.; Fetting, J.H.; Garrett-Mayer, E.; Davidson, N.E.; Wolff, A.C. Feasibility trial of partial breast irradiation with concurrent dose-dense doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide in early-stage breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Jun 10;27(17):2816-2822.

Chumsri, S.; Jeter, S.; Jacobs, L.K.; Nassar, H.; Armstrong, D.K.; Emens, L.A.; Fetting, J.H.; Lange, J.R.; Riley, C.; Tsangaris, T.N.; Wolff, A.C.; Zellars, R.; Zhang, Z.; Stearns, V. Pathologic complete response to preoperative sequential doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide and single-agent taxane with or without trastuzumab in stage II/III HER2-positive breast cancer. Clin Breast Cancer. 2010 Feb;10(1):40-45.

Sharrow, A.C.; Ronnett, B.M.; Thoburn, C.J.; Barber, J.P.; Giuntoli, R.L., 2nd; Armstrong, D.K.; Jones, R.J.; Hess, A.D. Identification and characterization of a spontaneous ovarian carcinoma in Lewis rats. J Ovarian Res. 2010;3:9.

Activities & Honors


  • Susan G. Komen Foundation Research Fellowship, 1991 - 1993
  • American Association for Cancer Research Upjohn Travel Award, 1992
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award, 1994 - 1995
  • American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award, 1995 - 1998
  • Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Osler Housestaff Teaching Award, 1998
  • Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Osler Housestaff Teaching Award, 2000
  • Ladies Home Journal Health Breakthrough Award, 2006
  • David & Lenore Brundige Katz Memorial Lectureship, Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2007
  • Rosalind Franklin Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Award, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, 2007
  • Ethel N. Ruvelson Memorial Lecture in Ovarian Cancer, University of Minnesota, 2007
  • Director's Teaching Award in Clinical Science, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, 2008


  • Abstract Review Committee Member (Clinical Abstracts), 2002 - 2003
  • American Association for Cancer Research, 1990
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology, 1993
  • Bone Marrow Transplant Panel, 1998
  • Breast Cancer Committee, 2008 - 2012
  • Breast Risk Reduction Panel, 2004
  • Bylaws Committee, 2007
  • Cancer Education Committee, 2006
  • Cancer Education Committee, 2007
  • Clinical Trials Network, 2002
    Advisor and Scientific Review
  • Co-Principal Investigator, 1994 - 1995
  • Developmental Therapeutics Committee, 1998
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, 1988
  • Gyn Working Group, 2007
  • Gynecologic Cancer Program Committee, 1997
  • Gynecologic Cancer Program Committee, 2004
  • Gynecologic Cancer Program Committee, 2005
  • Gynecologic Cancer Program Committee, 2006
  • Gynecologic Cancer Program Committee, 2007
  • Gynecologic Cancer Scientific Program Committee, 2006
  • Gynecologic Cancer Scientific Program Committee, 2007
    Track Leader
  • Gynecologic Oncology Group, 1993
  • International Gynecologic Cancer Society, 1994
  • Medical Oncology Committee, 2001
  • National Cooperative Cancer Network
  • NCCN Ovarian Cancer Panel
    Vice Chair
  • Ovarian Cancer Committee, 1994 - 2002
  • Ovarian Cancer Panel, 1998
  • Phase I Subcommittee, 1998
  • Principal Investigator, 1995 - 2000
  • Program Committee Member, 2009 - 2011
  • Representative to the Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee, 2008
  • Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, 2006
    Associate Member
  • Southwest Oncology Group, 2007
  • Survivorship Committee, 2003
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