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Estrogen expert to deliver Carol Baldwin Cancer Research Lecture Nov. 20

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- A renowned expert on the “life-giving” hormone estrogen will deliver the Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Lecture at Upstate Nov. 20.

Richard Santen, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Virginia, will speak at 4 p.m. in Weiskotten Hall’s Medical Alumni Auditorium. The lecture is open to the public.

“His presence is very important to the community of medical scientists and to the public at large,” said Upstate Pharmacology Professor Debashis Ghosh, PhD. “He is the world’s leading expert on estrogen, women’s health and breast cancer.”

Estrogen is an essential hormone in men and women, but is linked to up to 80 percent of breast cancers in post-menopausal women, Ghosh said.

Santen has been working with the estrogen-producing enzyme aromatase since it was discovered in the 1960s. He included Ghosh’s research on the structure of aromatase in a landmark publication.

“Estrogen is life-sustaining but it’s a double-edged sword,” said Ghosh. “It’s life-giving and life-depriving. We need to know how aromatase makes estrogen, and how to make it stop when it’s not needed.”

In his Baldwin lecture, Santen will talk about his ongoing research and promising new treatments for breast cancer. He’ll also discuss what menopausal and post-menopausal women can do to maintain their health and quality of life.

Ghosh published his research on the structure of the aromatase molecule in a 2009 article in Nature (Upstate now owns the patent on its structural composition). When Dr. Santen read the article, he contacted Dr. Ghosh and included that work in a historical review of aromatase. “That made the story complete,” Ghosh said.

That publication is one of more than 400 manuscripts and chapters written by Santen, most related to the role of estrogen in breast cancer development and treatment.

Santen is a practicing clinician and a “very thorough basic scientist,” Ghosh said. Santen has been funded by the National Institutes of Health consecutively for more than three decades.

“He is the ideal lecturer for the Baldwin Foundation,” Ghosh said of his collaborator. “He wants to distribute his knowledge to the people so they can benefit from his great knowledge, which he has accumulated for many years.”

Santen will spend two days on the Upstate campus. In addition to giving the Baldwin Lecture, he will meet with administrators, faculty and students.

The lecture is made possible by support from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund.