Heather Cheng

About Heather Cheng
  • Although family history is well-established as a risk factor for development of prostate cancer, scientists currently lack a comprehensive understanding of underlying genetic causes.
  • Dr. Heather Cheng is coordinating a large-scale program to identify potential highly hereditable genes that may only run in one in 200 families or less, but are exceptionally powerful and carry a high risk of developing prostate cancer—comparable to the BRCA genes implicated in families with frequent occurrence of breast and ovarian cancer.
  • After recruiting families with multiple relatives with early-onset or aggressive prostate cancer, gene and whole exome sequencing techniques will help detect shared genes and mutations.
  • In order to leverage this project’s potential immediate clinical impacts, Dr. Cheng is developing and sharing a first-in-field, web-based educational and counseling resources and information about research opportunities for these men, their families, and related healthcare providers.

What this means for patients: Prostate cancer is well known to have a strong inherited component, yet the causative genes are incompletely known. This unique project is poised to identify specific high-risk genes, offering a novel path to enhanced screening (i.e. early PSA screening for men in their 40s) and prevention of prostate cancer in family members.

Heather Cheng, MD, PhD

University of Washington

Mentor:

Peter Nelson, MD

Proposal Title:

Identifying High-Penetrance Prostate Cancer Risk Genes: Leveraging Families for Next Generation Discovery and Prevention

Award

2015 Kelsey Dickson–PCF Young Investigator