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Lenora W. M. Loo, PhD

Lenora W. M. Loo, PhD
  • Full Member
    Population Sciences in the Pacific Program (Cancer Epidemiology)
    University of Hawai'i Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Associate Specialist (Associate Professor)
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
    University of Hawaii at Manoa


  • PhD (Genetics)
    University of Hawai'i

Research Focus

Dr. Loo's research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that both initiate and maintain tumorigenesis. Tumors are characterized by the progression of changes to a normal cell that alter the expression of genes involved in the regulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis, adhesion, and genome stability. Characterizing alterations to the genome (mutations, gene copy number, loss of heterozygosity, allelic imbalance) and the expression of critical genes can yield important information for the identification of signaling pathways that impact tumor specific characteristics. Dr. Loo and colleagues have demonstrated that the specific intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer are associated with distinct patterns of genomic alterations.

Dr. Loo is also interested in identifying genetic alterations, both gene expression and copy number alterations, that may impact biological events to influence the observed disparities in incidence and survival for breast and colon cancers in different ethnic populations of Hawai'i. Cross-ethnic comparisons of data from the Hawai'i Cancer Registry show that there are differences in the incidence and mortality for different ethnic populations. Factors that contribute to this disparity include socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, stage at diagnosis, and tumor biology. To better understand tumor biology, one of the goals for this study is to identify distinct genetic changes that impact cancer initiation and progression by altering gene expression patterns in the normal cell. Ultimately, we would like to better understand the biological basis of cancer to improve tailored treatment strategies leading to an increased survival for all individuals with cancer.

Selected Publications

  • Maskarinec G, Ju D, Horio D, Loo LW, Hernandez BY. (2016) Involution of breast tissue and mammographic density. Breast Cancer Research. 18(1):128. PMID: 27978856; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5159985.
  • Hernandez BY, Wilkens LR, Le Marchand L, Horio D, Chong CD, Loo LW. (2015). Differences in IGF-axis protein expression and survival among multiethnic breast cancer patients. Cancer Medicine, 4(3):354-62; PMID: 25619494. PMCID: PMC4380961.
  • Loo LW, Tiirikainen M, Cheng I, Lum-Jones A, Seifried A, Church JM, Gryfe R, Weisenberger DJ, Lindor NM, Gallinger S, Haile RW, Duggan DJ, Thibodeau SN, Casey G, Le Marchand L. (2013). Integrated analysis of genome-wide copy number alterations and gene expression in microsatellite stable, CpG island methylator phenotype-negative colon cancer. Genes Chromosomes Cancer, 52(5):450-66. PMID: 23341073; PMCID: PMC4019504.
  • Loo LW, Cheng I, Tiirikainen M, Lum-Jones A, Seifried A, Dunklee LM, Church JM, Gryfe R, Weisenberger DJ, Haile RW, Gallinger S, Duggan DJ, Thibodeau SN, Casey G, Le Marchand L. (2012). cis-Expression QTL analysis of established colorectal cancer risk variants in colon tumors and adjacent normal tissue. PLoS ONE ,7(2):e30477. PMCID: PMC3281844.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • L. Loo, PI
    NCI (R21CA176555-01A1)
    "Obesity and IGF-axis Activation in Native Hawaiian Women with Breast Cancer"
    07/01/14 – 12/30/17
  • L. Loo, PI
    Hawaii Community Foundation (Medical Research Award)
    "Understanding the Role of 27-Hydroxycholesterol in Breast Cancer for Hawaii's Multiethnic Population"
    05/11/16 – 11/10/17

Recently Completed Grants

  • L. Loo, PI
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center (Pilot Study Award)
    "Risk Stratification Profiles Predictive of Progression from Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) to Invasive Breast Cancer"
    08/15/15 – 04/12/17