Vera Bradley Foundation Chair
Bryan Schneider, M.D.
Vera Bradley Investigator
Associate Professor of Medicine and of Medical and Molecular Genetics,
Indiana University School of Medicine
Vera Bradley Foundation funding jumpstarts era of personalized medicine
Bryan Schneider, M.D., explains to a shadowing medical student that his morning breast cancer clinic will be filled with chemotherapy patients – all of whom he describes as “in their 30s.” The afternoon will include “a little bit of everything, including women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.” As he categorizes his patients to plan his day, he is also acutely aware of his growing body of research that reveals just how vastly unique each tumor and each woman really is.
As a physician-scientist, Dr. Schneider’s research is focused on deciphering the individual genomes of breast tumors and leading clinical trials that reveal why women respond so differently to the same cancer drug. In fact, he – and his Indiana University colleagues – are at the forefront globally in identifying these differences and blending the information to develop breast cancer treatments of the future.
Only nine years into his career as a faculty member at the IU School of Medicine, he has received five prestigious national awards. This includes recognition from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the largest and most prestigious organization of its kind in the country, for his groundbreaking research that revealed biomarkers predicting harmful side effects of treatment. In all, he has amassed more than $7.8 million in peer-reviewed funding for his research. Today, as the Vera Bradley Investigator, he is realizing his goals of translating his discoveries from the laboratory into the clinic and revolutionizing the way breast cancer is diagnosed and treated.
Dr. Schneider didn’t initially plan to become an oncologist, but his grandmother’s death from cancer inspired him to seek out a career that would allow him to care for cancer patients and to discover life-saving treatments.
A home-grown Hoosier who was born and raised in Jasper, Dr. Schneider graduated summa cum laude from the University of Evansville. He then graduated from the IU School of Medicine, completing a residency in internal medicine and an extended fellowship in oncology that allowed him to concentrate time in the research laboratory. When Dr. Schneider was offered the opportunity to join the clinical care and research faculty as a member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, he leapt at the chance to work with a research and care team internationally renowned for improving life expectancies for women with breast cancer.
Dr. Schneider is one of 34 breast cancer researchers at the IU Simon Cancer Center. He collaborates with other members to identify how each breast cancer is different. Dr. Schneider is also associate director of the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine and is building a program in individualized therapeutics that blends billions of pieces of data to prescribe the right drug to the right patient at the right time. He and his colleagues are not only documenting which drugs are most effective at killing cancer cells, but also prescribing therapy based on the physical characteristics of the patients – age, gender, ethnicity, medical history and lifestyle – that influence how a patient responds to therapy.
“Those of us studying pharmacogenics in the laboratory hope to develop an understanding of who will gain the greatest benefit from specific drugs in the clinic,” said Dr. Schneider. “The objective is to maximize the benefits of treatment for each patient while minimizing any potential negative side effects.”
Dr. Schneider knows that he is the right person in the right place at the right time. He credits his success to his fellowship mentors – Drs. George Sledge and David Flockhart – who guided his expertise in blending laboratory and patient-care expertise to understand the nature of breast cancer and develop better approaches to treatment. Best of all, Dr. Schneider didn’t have to leave his Indiana home to realize his career goals. The IU Simon Cancer Center is at the forefront of breast cancer research and treatment worldwide and is moving ahead confidently because of the Vera Bradley Foundation support at the IU School of Medicine. In all, the foundation has generously donated $23.2 million to support breast cancer research with an addition $11.8 million pledged.