Program History

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic is a unique model of multi‐disciplinary care and research focused on understanding, preventing and treating inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

While IBC is considered rare, attributing to only 2‐5% of all breast cancers, its aggressive nature makes it the deadliest, with only a 35‐40% 5‐year survival rate.  In fact, death from IBC is disproportionate when compared to all breast cancers, resulting in up to 10% of all breast cancer deaths. Our multi-disciplinary program is focused on developing tools for diagnosis, identifying therapeutic approaches specifically for treatment of IBC, understanding and preventing metastases, enhancing imaging approaches to assist in detecting the disease and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment for IBC patients. Our ultimate goal is to improve survival of IBC patients.

Spearheaded by Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, the program's dedication to improving overall survival of women with IBC became a magnet for IBC survivors and advocates from Texas, Washington state, and New Mexico who joined forces to advocate for resources to fight this aggressive form of breast cancer. In 2007, the Texas Legislature created the $4 million "State of Texas Rare and Aggressive Breast Cancer Research Program" at MD Anderson. Concurrently, the New Mexico Legislature approved $3.2 million for the University of New Mexico (UNM) Cancer Center's IBC research.

These two efforts came together in January 2008, when MD Anderson and the UNM Cancer Research & Treatment Center forged a bilateral research agreement, providing new hope for IBC patients worldwide.

Today,  Naoto Ueno, MD, PhD, leads the effort as Executive Director with Wendy Woodward, MD, PhD as Deputy Director, Vicente Valero, MD, as Director of Clinical Research and Executive Committee Member, James Reuben, PhD. Danielle Walsh, MBA also joined the team as an Executive Committee Member and Program Manager in 2010.  Thomas Buchholz, MD, FACR, former Executive Director, has stayed on as a special advisor to the program.

Over the past year, the Morgan Welch IBC Program has strived to progress into a period of strategic growth in patient care, basic and translational research, and in outreach. To accomplish this we have realigned our purpose and budget with clear mission, vision and defined goals for achievement.

Our mission is to reduce the suffering of IBC patients through translational research–driven, clinical medicine.

Our vision is to be a world premier IBC research group in disease prevention, in developing innovative molecular biomarkers and targeted therapy based on hypothesis‐driven translational/clinical research, and in nurturing a new generation of oncology investigators.

Through a concerted effort by all members of the program and through new collaborations, the Morgan Welch IBC Program is committed to making breakthroughs in the understanding of IBC and how we can prevent, diagnose and treat new or metastatic disease.