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Esther (Ritah) Ogayo, BS

Job Title

Senior Research Technician

Academic Rank

Staff/Research Assistant


Medicine Surgery


Esther R. Ogayo, BS; Milos Spasic, PhD; Tasnim Rahman, MBA; Olga Kantor, MD MS; Tari A. King, MD; Peter van Galen, PhD; Sandra S. McAllister, PhD; Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, MD PhD MHCM.

Principal Investigator

Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, MD PhD MHCM.



Deep Immunoprofiling Demonstrates Racial Differences in the Peripheral Immune System in Women at Risk for Breast Cancer

Scientific Abstract

Disparities in breast cancer outcomes between Non-Hispanic Black (NHB) and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) women have been attributed to factors including access to care and tumor biology, however, these factors do not fully account for the observed disparities. Systemic immune fitness is an area not previously explored that may play a role in dictating disease progression and therapeutic responses. Numerous factors, including age and race, impact immune system function and understanding these changes is critical to address disparities in outcomes. Here we sought to determine the immunophenotype of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from age-matched NHB and NHW women (n=20/cohort) identified as being at high-risk for the development of breast cancer through our institution’s Breast Cancer Personalized Risk Assessment, Education and Prevention (B-PREP) program. We performed deep immunoprofiling of PBMC at single cell resolution by full-spectrum flow cytometry using a pipeline developed by our group. Our preliminary results show enrichment of several immunosuppressive and systemic inflammatory immune cells in NHB women suggesting distinct immune profiles of NHB and NHW women at high risk for breast cancer. Further analyses with a larger sample size of patients with invasive disease are underway to elucidate whether these immune fitness differences contribute to outcome disparities.

Lay Abstract

Non-Hispanic Black (NHB) are more likely to die from breast cancer than Non-Hispanic White (NHW). Access to healthcare and the presentation of breast cancer at more advanced stages are factors that help explain these differences however, these factors do not offer a full explanation. Another area that may account for these differences is the immune system, our body’s natural defense team against diseases. It is known that age and race impact how our immune system works. In this study we use a powerful tool to look at blood cells and closely examine the immune system in 20 NHB and 20 NHW women of similar age identified as being at high risk of developing breast cancer through our institution’s Breast Cancer Personalized Risk Assessment, Education and Prevention (B-PREP) program. Our initial results show that NHB women have more immune cells that make their immune system less active than that of NHW women suggesting another factor that may impact breast cancer outcomes. We are currently collecting blood from a larger group of women with invasive breast cancer to confirm these findings.

Clinical Implications

Understanding immune fitness disparities between Black and White women at high risk for breast cancer may inform tailored prevention and personalized treatment strategies which will have the potential to reduce racial disparities and improve breast cancer outcomes.