Meet Our Team

Principal Investigators

Dr. Esserman is the Director of the UCSF Carol Frank Buck Breast Care Center at UC San Francisco, a professor of Surgery & Radiology at UCSF, and a practicing surgeon and breast cancer oncology specialist. She is the founder of the University of California wide Athena Breast Health Network, a model learning system to integrate clinical care and research.


She also leads the innovative ISPY clinical TRIALs, which are designed to accelerate the identification and approval of novel agents for women with high risk cancers (find the right drug for the right person at the right time). She is an international breast cancer specialist, policy expert, innovator, and leader in building learning systems to improve patient care.


Why is WISDOM important?

"The WISDOM trial is an exciting opportunity for all of us to participate in a program that will help us learn who's really at risk for what kind of breast cancer. Together we can create a better future and enable significant improvements in the approach, outcomes of and experience of breast cancer screening for generations to come."


Sandy Borowsky is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Center for Comparative Medicine and the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California Davis. He learned diagnostic breast pathology at Vanderbilt where innovations in the 1980s led to the advance of breast conserving therapy and then trained at Brigham/Harvard Medical School in molecular oncology. He is an expert in experimental models of DCIS and breast cancer, and the development of innovative technologies for improved evidence based diagnostics.


Why is WISDOM Important?

As a physician scientist, Dr. Borowsky hopes that an evidence based risk assessment encompassing the leading edge of scientific understanding of breast biology will improve patients’ lives by personalizing risk reduction, improving therapy, and reducing overtreatment.

Dr. Anton-Culver is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Founding Director of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Institute at UCI. During the past thirty-three years at UC Irvine, she has established major research programs in cancer epidemiology and cancer genetics, including studies funded by the National Cancer Institute and other agencies.


Why is WISDOM Important?

The WISDOM Trial will evaluate the value of the most common screening program, mammography, using an individualized approach with high level of precision for each woman participant. It is expected to change the health care paradigm for cancer control and prevention.

Dr. Naeim is the Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Research, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research, and Associate Director of the Clinical Translational Science Institute. He is Director of Informatics for the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Director of Geriatric-Oncology for the Division(s) of Geriatric Medicine and Hematology-Oncology. He has clinical training in both Geriatrics and Hematology-Oncology, as well as being boarded in Clinical Informatics and a certified Epic Physician Builder. His primary research focus is on older cancer patients, the role of mobile technology, outcomes research, cost-effectiveness analysis, modeling of health and frailty, and clinical trial design. Dr. Naeim is the site PI for the Athena Breast Network, and is leading the Wisdom Trial in its approach to breast cancer screening for older patients who may be frail or pre-frail, as well leading the patient-centered outcomes analysis for the trial.


Why is WISDOM Important?

The WISDOM Trial serves as one of the first use cases for big data, precision medicine, and personalized care.

Dr. LaCroix is a Professor and the Chief of Epidemiology for the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego. Dr. LaCroix is an epidemiologist and clinical trialist focused on improving the health and healthcare of aging women throughout the lifespan. She has been a leader within the Women’s Health Initiative Program and the MsFLASH network. Her work focuses on identifying effective interventions for reducing risk of breast cancer, heart disease and disability in postmenopausal women.


Why is WISDOM Important?

The WISDOM Trial is important because women need breast cancer screening programs that truly reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer and do not result in unnecessary procedures, stress, surgeries and other harms.

Dr. van 't Veer is a Professor of Laboratory Medicine, the Director of Applied Genomics, and the Program Leader for the Breast Oncology Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is the UCSF-Site Principal Investigator of the Athena Breast Health Network. Dr. van ‘t Veer is a world renowned Molecular Biologist and inventor of MammaPrint®. Her research focuses on personalized medicine, to advance patient management based on knowledge of the genetic make-up of the tumor and the genetic make-up of the patient. She received the second prize 2014 EU Women Innovator award and the 2015 European Inventor Award.


Why is WISDOM Important?

The WISDOM trial, for the first time in the world, informs every woman about her personal risk to develop breast cancer. It allows to differentiate the need for frequency of mammographic screening tailored to a women’s risk factors as well as genetic susceptibility. Women will be empowered to make their own personal decisions for their breast health.

Dr. Funmi Olopade is a Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics and founding director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Olopade’s research is focused on gaining a better understanding of the etiology and genomic basis of cancer progression in diverse populations. She has published extensively on genetic and non-genetic risk factors for breast cancer and is internationally renowned for her seminal work in cancer genomics and clinical expertise in breast cancer. Dr. Olopade mapped genes frequently deleted on Chromosome 9 and has characterized and dissected molecular pathways defining aggressive forms of breast cancer and inherited forms of cancer in diverse populations.


A distinguished scholar and mentor, Dr. Olopade has received numerous honors and awards including honorary degrees from six universities and a 2005 MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius grant”) for “translating findings on the molecular genetics of breast cancer in African and African-American women into innovative clinical practices in the United States and abroad.”


Why is WISDOM Important?

With personalized care we want every woman to teach us what they have to share about breast cancer. WISDOM gives women all over the country the opportunity to contribute and revolutionize the way we treat fight this disease, one patient at a time.

Dr. Kaster is the co-principal investigator of the WISDOM study at Sanford Health. She is board-certified in family medicine and focuses on preventive medicine and breast health at Edith Sanford Breast Center. “With so many recommendations for breast cancer screening out there, it can be hard for patients and providers to know what is the right approach for them. Clinical studies like WISDOM help us use the latest in imaging and genetics along with a patients personal history to determine how best to screen women for breast cancer. Through this study, I hope that we will be able to contribute to developing a more personalized approach to breast cancer screening.”


Why is WISDOM Important?

The WISDOM trial is important to me to study recent advances in molecular biology and risk assessment and use them to find the most efficient way to screen our patients for breast cancer.

Maria Bell, MD, is a specialist in cancer of the female reproductive organs at Sanford Cancer Center. She completed her medical training at the USD Sanford School of Medicine, where she now serves as a full professor.


Bell completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Chicago and a gynecologic oncology fellowship at the University of Alabama. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Augustana University, a master of public health from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the Duke Global Executive Program.


A native of Aberdeen, South Dakota, Bell’s service includes South Dakota State Medical Association Clinical Practice Committee chair, Sanford Cancer Committee chair; All Women Count medical director, American Cancer Society board member and South Dakota Comprehensive Cancer Plan state chair. She also serves as chief medical officer for Sanford Research. She has been a Sanford Board of Trustee member since 2013.

Dr. Garcia is originally from Mexico and earned his Medical Degree from Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City. He completed his internship and residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois and a Fellowship in Medical Oncology at the University of Southern California.He is board certified in Medical Oncology and currently serves as an Professor of Medicine at the School of Medicine at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. Dr. Garcia's primary clinical and research interests focus on women’s cancers (particularly breast and ovarian cancer) and drug development and is passionate about improving the management of breast and gynecological cancers. He is a member of the Breast Cancer Working Group in the Southwest Oncology Group. Dr Garcia is conducting studies in breast and ovarian cancer evaluating new agents with novel mechanisms of action. His work has been published in various journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.


Why is WISDOM Important?

I believe that the WISDOM trial is probably one of the most important ongoing clinical trials in the area of breast cancer. Except for specific situations the mammography screening guidelines are basically the same for all women irrespective of her risk factors for breast cancer. Each woman is a unique individual. Why do we still recommend the same approach to all of them? The WISDOM trial is trying to determine if a personalized approach is better than the one size fits all approach that we currently have. The WISDOM trial may be a huge step forward in providing personalized care to all women.

Patient Advocates

Patient advocates are a significant part of the WISDOM team.  Having experienced the impact of breast cancer in their own lives,  they are passionate about making screening and risk reduction better for the health of all women.
Many of our advocates have been involved in every aspect of the study since it was founded.  They have diverse backgrounds and work to ensure that WISDOM is inclusive so everyone can benefit from the results. They represent the women who join WISDOM, and work closely with the research team on all fronts from marketing and communications to bioethics and data privacy.

As a breast cancer survivor Susie has a passionate commitment to supporting research aimed at ending this devastating disease. For almost 15 years she has worked as a dedicated patient advocate serving on various research and survivorship committees for local and national advocacy organizations.
Susie is interested in scientific studies that examine ways to enable women to reduce their risk of breast cancer, and in clinical trials that offer effective and less harmful treatment options.
Susie has participated in several breast cancer-related observational studies and regards it as a key component of her patient and research advocacy work that she understands current clinical trial issues and research trends that impact individuals and their families.
As a WISDOM advocate, Susie is motivated to end the confusion women feel on how often they should get a mammogram.  She is hoping this nationwide study will provide the scientific answers needed so that women will have a better understanding of their personal risk for breast cancer and will know whether they need to be screened more frequently or not.

Sandra (Sandy) Finestone, Psy.D., is a 30 year breast cancer survivor and research advocate who has been a volunteer for Susan G. Komen for over 25 years. Sandy is the Past President and Treasurer of the Susan G. Komen Inland Empire Affiliate, Past President and Race Chair of the Orange County Affiliate and serves on the Advocates in Science (AIS) Steering Committee and chairs the AIS Training Working Group.
A long-time advocate, Dr. Finestone organized a support group for husbands of breast cancer survivors. She also founded the Orange County Breast Cancer Coalition and opened the Hope Wellness Center to meet the needs of breast cancer survivors. Her advocacy knows no borders; in 2009, Dr. Finestone went to Jordan to facilitate a meeting that taught healthcare providers about support groups for women with breast cancer, and later that year, returned to the middle-east to train women in Kuwait and Egypt about support groups. She has been recognized for her work, receiving the 2002 National Komen Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for Lifetime Achievement.  She is currently on the steering committee of Komen Advocates in Science and serves as the chair of the Education and Training Working Group. Dr. Finestone reviews research grants for Komen as well as the Department of Defense, Cochrane, Avon, PCORI and the states of New York and California. She is an Ambassador for PCORI.

Diane Heditsian’s work as a patient, policy and research breast cancer advocate is informed and driven by her experiences as a four-time breast cancer patient and survivor. As a trained and engaged advocate of 18 years, she serves as a liaison among patient, advocate, research and clinician communities and as a resource to the public. She educates and empowers women on how to advocate for their own health and healthcare. Working with clinicians, researchers and legislators, she advances quality of care, participation in clinical trials, and medical science discovery. She is a frequent speaker at medical conferences, including several with Laura Esserman, MD, MBA on the WISDOM Study.  She was also the sole advocate speaker at ASCO’s inaugural Cancer Survivorship Symposium, presenting An Advocate’s Prescription for Survivorship Care.
To the WISOM Study she brings her background and skills in website and video design and creation, writing, and participant outreach, as well as her knowledge of clinical trials and health systems. She is founder and CEO of deClarity, a global life science communications consultancy which she has grown over the past 38 years. Her goal for the WISDOM Study is inclusivity so that its participants reflect the diversity of the population. She wants all women to be able to benefit from the important results of this trial.  In 2009 she joined the University of California, San Francisco, Breast Oncology Program’s SPORE (now Breast Science Advocacy Core) to help researchers bring advances to breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention to the clinic. In addition to her work on WISDOM, she serves as a research advocate for the multi-center, innovative I-SPY 2 Clinical Trial, helps guide the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship, supports academic and industry researchers through Susan G. Komen’s Advocates in Science, and is a Director of the Armenian Healthcare Association of the Bay Area, working to improve breast healthcare for the women of her ancestral home. She is a Consumer Reviewer for various grant funding mechanisms including the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Breast Cancer Research Program and Susan G. Komen. Her advocacy is fortified by trainings through National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD and Research Advocacy Network, among others.

Jo Ellen currently owns her own business working as a Pilates Rehabilitation Specialist and Medical Ombudsman and Advocate.  Her past professional life has included positions as a non-medical administrator at hospitals and medical societies as well as a grant writer for funding of several outpatient psychiatric services.  Additionally, she has served as an administrator of HR departments in businesses, school districts, brokerage houses, and advertising agencies.  She has experience and expertise as an architectural and graphic designer and medical illustrator.
Her interests and volunteer time have been demonstrated in her longtime positions of leadership in local and national organizations raising funds for cancer research and education, tumor boards, arthritis boards.   As well as with organizations supporting the arts, museums, and organizations and broads which support the ethical treatment of humans and animals.

Dolores Moorehead is the Lead Client Navigator/Multicultural Client Support Clinician for the Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC), a non-profit organization in Berkeley that is dedicated to assisting women with cancer in navigating the complex health care system and improve their quality of life through education and supportive services. Dolores began her tenure with WCRC as a volunteer and board member and has been on staff for 18 years. Previously, Dolores was employed for almost 13 years at the American Cancer Society as a Patient Services Manager.  She has worked with diverse populations including LGBTQIA+, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Pacific Islanders. She is committed to improving the communication between doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals about the medical needs and access to care for diverse populations.
Dolores is involved with WISDOM because she believes in their dedication to improving breast cancer screening for all women — knowing that one-size does not work. 

Community Leadership Board

The WISDOM Community Leadership Board was established in 2020 as part of our initiative to improve diversity within the study and include women with the most significant cancer health disparities.


Led by Kim Rhoads, Celia Kaplan, and Dolores Moorehead, members of the board are diverse in their geographic locations, ethnicities and lifestyle, and are representatives of community-based organizations, community hospitals and medical practices, faith-based organizations, community health activist organizations, and cancer survivors and advocates. Our board members work closely with our study team to identify ways to reach diverse women in the community where they are at, advising on our outreach strategies, marketing, communications, and much more.


Want to learn more about our Community Leadership Board?

The WISDOM Community Leadership Board was established in 2020 as part of our initiative to improve diversity within the study and include women with the most significant cancer health disparities.


Members of the board are diverse in their geographic locations, ethnicities and lifestyle, and are representatives of community-based organizations, community hospitals and medical practices, faith-based organizations, community health activist organizations, and cancer survivors and advocates. Our board members work closely with our study team to identify ways to reach diverse women in the community where they are at, advising on our outreach strategies, marketing, communications, and much more.

Want to learn more about our Community Leadership Board?

Study Partners