• Researcher Profile

    Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD

    Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD

    Top Doctor

    Institute Physician

    Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


    Breast Oncology

    Office phone: 617-632-3495
    Fax: 617-632-1930
    Email: hal_burstein@dfci.harvard.edu

    Preferred contact method: email

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    Research Department

    Medical Oncology/Solid Tumor Oncology

    Area of Research

    Clinical Investigation of Breast Cancer

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    450 Brookline Avenue
    Boston, MA 02215


    Dr. Burstein graduated from Harvard College before earning his MD at Harvard Medical School. He also received a PhD in cellular immunology and a master's degree in the history of science from Harvard. He trained in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital before his oncology fellowship at DFCI. In 1999, he joined the staff of DFCI and Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he is a clinician and clinical investigator in the Breast Oncology Center.

    Recent Awards

    • George P. Canellos Award for Excellence in Clinical Investigation and Patient Care, 2001


    Clinical Investigation of Breast Cancer

    In the Breast Oncology Center, our clinical trials help define new treatment options for women with early-stage and advanced breast cancer. These trials use the scientific and laboratory resources at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center to translate clinical observations into well-described biological phenomena. Some of our recent studies are described below.

    We have conducted several NCI-supported phase II trials of angiogenesis inhibitors in advanced breast cancer. These studies analyzed clinical outcomes for treatment with standard or low-dose "metronomic" chemotherapy (also thought to have anti-angiogenic potential) in combination with bevacizumab, an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibody. The primary endpoints of these studies are to characterize the response rate and safety profile of treatments. Correlative studies are analyzing baseline and dynamic measures of angiogenesis as predictors of tumor response, including measurement of circulating endothelial cells. Based on encouraging preliminary findings for these trials, we developed a trial of bevacizumab and metronomic chemotherapy that is now open to patients with early-stage breast cancer. This study will also use proteomics to gauge the extent of anti-angiogenic activity.

    In addition, we are evaluating other novel agents in clinical trials, including various anti-angiogenesis drugs and new formulations of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.

    With colleagues in the health services research division at Dana-Farber, we are also exploring optimal use of adjuvant endocrine therapy for breast cancer. In these research efforts, we use computer modeling to help define which treatment strategies (e.g., tamoxifen, an aromatase inhibitor, or sequential treatment with one and then the other) would best prevent cancer recurrence. Such outcomes analyses can help inform clinical decision when direct data are not available to guide recommendations.

    Select Publications

    • Burstein HJ, Harris LN, Gelman R, Lester SC, Nunes RA, Kaelin CM, Parker LM, Ellisen LW, Kuter I, Gadd MA, Christian RL, Kennedy PR, Borges VF, Bunnell CA, Younger J, Smith BL, Winer EP. Preoperative therapy with trastuzumab and paclitaxel followed by sequential adjuvant doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide for HER2 overexpressing stage II or III breast cancer: a pilot study. J Clin Oncol 2003;21:46-53.
    • Punglia RS, Kuntz KM, Winer EP, Weeks JC, Burstein HJ. Optimizing adjuvant endocrine therapy in postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer: a decision analysis. J Clin Oncol 2005;23:5178-87.
    • * Burstein HJ, Bellon JR, Galper S, Lu HM, Kuter I, Taghian AN, Wong J, Gelman R, Bunnell CA, Parker LM, Garber JE, Winer EP, Harris JR, Powell SN. Prospective evaluation of concurrent paclitaxel and radiation therapy following adjuvant doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy for stage II or III breast cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2005; In press.
    • Burstein HJ, Wong JS, Polyak K, Lester S, Kaelin CM. Ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast. N Engl J Med 2004;350:1430-41.
    • Burstein HJ. The distinctive nature of HER2-positive breast cancer. N Engl J Med 2005;1652-4.


    • Mayer, Erica, MD, MPH
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