Jose Russo, MD, FACP

Jose Russo, MD, FACP

Research Program

Lab Overview

As Director of the Irma H. Russo, MD-Breast Cancer Research Laboratory I have the main function to produce original breast cancer research mainly at the basic and translations level. In addition, as a Senior Member and Professor at the FCCC I have assumed the responsibility of training young investigators and graduate students.

Russo joined the staff in 1991 as Chairman of the Department of Pathology and Director of the Breast Cancer Research Laboratory (BCRL). In July 1 of 1994 he   turned his full attention in directing the BCRL that in   December of 2015 the  BCRL was  named in honor of her deceased wife the Irma H Russo, MD BCRL.

A Molecular and Experimental Pathologist and board-certified in Surgical Pathology by the American College of Pathologists, Russo has special interest in breast cancer aiming to elucidate the mechanism of hormonal and chemical carcinogenesis, and to develop new preventive strategies against sporadic and non-sporadic breast cancer. He has pioneered the role of estrogen as a carcinogen in the human breast and developed the concept that pregnancy related hormones induce differentiation of the breast mimicking pregnancy as a new paradigm in the prevention of breast cancer.

Russo earned his MD in 1968 in the University of Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. Held a postdoctoral fellowship in the Argentinian Council of Research and the Population Council under the Rockefeller Foundation. He completed his residency in Pathology in St John Hospital in Detroit Michigan and hold the position of Chairman of the Department of Pathology at the Michigan Cancer Foundation in Detroit, Michigan, before coming to Fox Chase.

Education and Training

Educational Background

  • MD, University National of Cuyo, Mendoza, 1968
  • BS, Agustin Alvarez National College, Argentina, Mendoza, 1960

Honors & Awards

Recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Award by AL DIA (October 2018).

Director of the Workshop “ Evaluation of the Rat Mammary gland Whole Mount “sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health  Science. Fox Chase Cancer Center-Temple Health, Philadelphia, June 2017

Chair: “Gordon Conference Hormone Action in Development and Cancer”. Bryant University, Smithfield, R.I. July 31st-August 5, 2011.

Chair of the Windows of Susceptibility session of the Annual Meeting of the NIEHS-Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program. Cincinnati. OH, November 17-18, 2011.

Chair of the “Stem Cells and Environmental Science National Academy of Sciences Committee “on Use of Emerging Science for Environmental Health Decisions, a committee sponsored by NIH/NIEHS. June 3-4, 2010, Washington, DC.

Scholar of  Colegio Mayor de Santa Cruz-Univeristy of Valladolid, Spain, December 19, 2011.

Michael Hill’s Lecture Award, January 16, 2009

Chair Symposium “Breast Cancer Trials”. 11th World Congress on the Menopause, Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 20, 2005.

Chair of the Meeting: “Emerging Topics in breast Cancer and The Environment Research”. Doral Forrestal, Princeton, NJ, November 4-6, 2004. Organized by the NCI-NIEHS- Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers.

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Research Profile

Research Program

Research Facility

Research Interests

  • Mechanism of Human breast epithelial cell transformation
  • Environmental carcinogenesis
  • Breast development and differentiation
  • Pregnancy and  breast cancer prevention
  • Hormonal mechanisms of breast cancer prevention

Lab Description

Our laboratory has been aiming to understand two basic problems in breast cancer research; One, what is the mechanism that makes normal cells into cancer ones, and second, to identify a mechanism that produces protection against breast cancer.

In answering the first question, we have produced original work showing how a normal cell can be transformed by known chemical carcinogens and also by the natural hormone 17-β-estradiol.  Our major contribution has been to develop an experimental model for the triple negative breast cancer type. The critical step in the process of cell transformation is the epithelial mesenchymal transition that can be controlled by altering the mechanism of methylation and acetylation. The data thus generated provides the basis for a clinical trial in this type of breast cancer.

The second objective of our studies is to develop a strategy for breast cancer prevention. For that purpose, we needed to understand the biological process by which early pregnancy protects a woman against breast cancer and then we will have a way to develop a preventive mechanism against the disease. Our Laboratory has been the first ones to develop a rational explanation using an experimental model to illustrate why an early first pregnancy protects a woman for life against developing breast cancer; this was outlined in our seminal work published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1978. From these publications up to the present, we have continued hammering at this idea. Breast differentiation is a very delicate mechanism played by several components at the same time, like gene repression and activation, and all of them interlaced in changing the chromatin pattern, remodeling it, mimicking what happens with early development during the process of organogenesis. Pregnancy completes the process of breast differentiation as the organ is not fully developed until this event takes place. From the understanding that differentiation of the target organ is what makes it refractory to the cancer emerged, the concept of the need to mimic pregnancy arose. We identified that the natural hormone produced by the placenta, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), could be the one involved in this process, and our data show how the hormone remodels the chromatin and explain what we have observed in our experimental rat model. The full proof of the concept is to demonstrate that when we use this hormone we can remodel the chromatin of the breast of young women making them refractory to cancer.

Lab Staff

Yanrong Su, PhD

Research Associate

Room: P2050

Magda Johanna Vandeloo, MS, PhD

Visiting Research Scientist

Room: P2067

Linda Cathay

Administrative Assistant

Room: P2036

Selected Publications

Russo, J., Furmanski, P., Bradley, R., Wells, P. and Rich, M.A.  Differentiation of normal human mammary epithelial cells in culture:  An ultrastructural study.  Am. J. of Anatomy, 145:57-78 (1976).

Russo, J., Soule, H.D., McGrath, C.M. and Rich, M.A.  Reexpression of the original tumor pattern by a human breast carcinoma cell line (MCF-7) in sponge culture.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst., 56:279-282 (1976).

Russo, J., McGrath, C.M. and Russo, I.H.  An experimental animal model for the study of human scirrhous carcinoma.  J. Natl. Cancer Institute, 57:1253-1259 (1976).

Russo, J., Wells, P. and Russo, I.H.  Adenosine triphosphatases an histochemical marker for the cell of origin in experimental mammary carcinoma.  Cancer Res., 35:534-536 (1977).

Russo, J., Saby, J., Isenberg, W. and Russo, I.H.  Pathogenesis of mammary carcinoma induced in rats by 7, 12-dimethylbenz (a) anthracene.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst., 59:435-445 (1977).

Russo, J., Bradley, R.H., McGrath, C.M. and Russo, I.H. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy study of a human breast carcinoma cell line (MCF-7) cultured in collagen-coated cellulose sponge.  Cancer Res. 35:2004-2014 (1977).

Russo, I.H. and Russo, J.  Developmental stage of the rat mammary gland as determinant of its susceptibility to 7, 12-dimethylbenz (a) anthracene.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst., 61:1439-1449 (1978).

Russo, J. and Russo, I.H.  DNA labeling index and structure of the rat mammary gland as determinant of its susceptibility to carcinogenesis.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst., 61:1451-1459 (1978).

Russo, J., Wilgus, G. and Russo, I.H.  Susceptibility of the mammary gland to carcinogenesis. I. Differentiation of the mammary gland as determinant of tumor incidence and type of lesion.  Am. J. Pathol. 96 (3): 721-734 (1979).

Russo, J. and Russo, I.H.  Influence of differentiation and cell kinetics on the susceptibility of the rat mammary gland to carcinogenesis.  Cancer Res., 40:2677-2687 (1980).

Russo, J. and Russo, I.H.  Susceptibility of the mammary gland to carcinogenesis. II.  Pregnancy interruption as a risk factor in tumor incidence.  Am. J. Pathology, 100:497-512 (1980).

Tay, L.K. and Russo, J.  7, 12-Dimethylbenz (a) anthracene (DMBA) induced DNA binding and repair synthesis in susceptible and non-susceptible mammary epithelial cells in culture.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst., 67:155-161 (1981).

Russo, J., Wilgus, G., Tait, L. and Russo, I.H.  Influence of age and parity on the susceptibility of rat mammary gland epithelial cells in primary cultures of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene.  In vitro, 17:877-884 (1981).

Tay, L.K. and Russo, J.  Formation and removal of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)- anthracene-nucleic acid adducts in rat mammary epithelial cells with different susceptibility to carcinogenesis.  Carcinogenesis, 2:1327-1333 (1981).

Russo, J., Tay, L.K. and Russo, I.H. Differentiation of the mammary gland and susceptibility to carcinogenesis. Breast Cancer Res. and Treat. 2:5-73, 1982.

Eberhard, S., Tait, L., Tay, L.K. and Russo, J.  Comparative Study of Cellular Replication Kinetics of Rat Mammary Epithelial Cells in vivo and in vitro.  Experimental Cell Research, 141:31-38 (1982).

Russo, J., Tait, L. and Russo, I.H.: Susceptibility of the Mammary Gland to Carcinogenesis III.  The cell of origin of mammary carcinoma.  Am. J. Clin. Pathol. 113:50-66, 1983.

Russo, J., Tay, L.K., Ciocca, D. and Russo, I.H.  Molecular and Cellular Basis of the Mammary Gland Susceptibility to Carcinogenesis. Environmental Health Perspectives 49:185-199 (1983).

Tay, L.K. and Russo, J.  Metabolism of 7, 12-Dimethylbenz (a) anthracene by Rat Mammary Epithelial Cells in Culture.   Carcinogenesis 4:733-738 (1983).

Russo, J.  Breast cancer:  Adjuvant chemotherapy (Letter).  Science, 230:886, (1985).

Russo, J., Calaf, G., Roi, L. and Russo, I.H.  Influence of Age and Reproductive history on cell kinetics of normal human breast tissue in vitro.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 78:413-418 (1987).

Russo, J. and Jones, B.  Influence of Steroid Hormones on the Growth Fraction of Human Breast Carcinomas.  Am. J. Clin. Pathol. 88:123-131 (1987).

Russo, J., Frederick, J., Ownby, H.E., Fine, G., Husain, M., Krickstein, H.I., Robbins, T.O. and Rosenberg, B. F.  Predictors of Recurrence and Survival of Breast Cancer Patients.  Am. J. Clin. Pathol. 88:132-138 (1987).

Russo, J. and Russo, I.H.  Biological and Molecular Bases of Mammary Carcinogenesis.  Laboratory Investigation, 57:112-137 (1987).

Russo, J., Reina, D., Frederick, J., Russo, I.H.  Expression of phenotypical changes by human breast epithelial cells treated with carcinogens in vitro.  Cancer Research, 48:2837-2857 (1988).

Russo, J., Mills, M.J., Moussalli, M.J. and Russo, I.H.  Influence of Breast Development and Growth Properties In vitro.  In vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology 25:643-649 (1989).

Russo, I.H., Gimotty, P., Dupuis, M. and Russo, J.  Effect of Medroxyprogesterone Acetate on the Response of the Rat Mammary Gland to Carcinogenesis.  British J. of Cancer 59:210-216 (1989).

Maloney, T.M., Paine, P.L. and Russo, J.  Polypeptide Computation of Normal and Neoplastic Human Breast Tissues and Cells Analyzed by Two-Dimensional Gel Electrophoresis.  Breast Cancer Res. Treat., 14:337-348 (1989).

Russo, I.H., and Russo, J.  Hormone prevention of mammary carcinogenesis by norethynodrel-mestranol.  Breast Cancer Res. Treat., 14:43-56 (1989).

Russo, J., Gusterson, B.A., Rogers, A.E., Russo, I.H., Wellings, S.R. and Van Zwieten, M.J.  Comparative Study of Human and Rat Mammary Tumorigenesis. Lab. Invest. 62:1-32 (1990).

Russo, I.H., Koszalka, M.S. and Russo, J.:  Protective effect of chorionic gonadotropin on DMBA-induced mammary carcinogenesis.  British Journal of Cancer, 62:243-247 (1990).

Soule, H.D., Maloney, T.M., Wolman, S.R., Peterson, N.D., Brenz, R., McGrath, C.M., Russo, J., Pauley, R.J., Jones, R.F. and Brooks, S.C.  Isolation and characterization of a spontaneously immortalized human breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10.  Cancer Research, 50:6075-6086, 1990.

Tait, L.R., Soule, H.D. and Russo, J.  Ultrastructural and immunocytochemical characterization of an immortalized human breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10.  Cancer Research, 50:6087-6094, 1990.

Russo, I.H., Koszalka, M. and Russo, J.  Human chorionic gonadotropin and mammary cancer prevention.  J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 82:1286-1289, 1990.

Basolo, F., Elliott, J., Tait, L., Chen, X.Q., Maloney, T., Russo, I.H., Pauley, R., Momiki, S., Caamano, J., Klein-Szanto, A.J.P., Koszalka, M. and Russo, J.  Transformation of Human Breast Epithelial Cells by c-Ha-ras oncogene.  Molecular Carcinogenesis, 4:25-35, 1991... Expand

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