Robert Clarke


Dean for Research, GUMC, Professor of Oncology
Professor, Department of Oncology Co-Director, Breast Cancer Program


Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC)
General profile



+1 202-687-9364

Alt. phone

(202) 687-4060


(202) 687-2085


An internationally recognized leader in breast cancer research, Dr. Robert Clarke studies how hormones, growth factors, and other related molecules affect breast cancer, and how breast cancers become resistant to hormonal and cytotoxic chemotherapies. He has broad expertise that includes estrogens, antiestrogens, aromatase inhibitors, cell signaling, bioinformatics, drug resistance, signal transduction, and systems biology.

Dr. Clarke has developed a series of hormone resistant breast cancer models that are now widely used in the field, and he continues to develop new experimental models. He is currently working on the development and application of genomic and novel bioinformatic methods to data from ongoing translational studies in both humans and experimental models. In other research, Dr. Clarke and his colleagues have recently identified a new, systems-biology based molecular signaling network in breast cancer that involves several novel oncogenes and suppressor genes. This integrated network incorporates cell stress signaling, protein misfolding (unfolded protein response), and communication among the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria and nucleus of breast cancer cells. Ultimately, this network determines if a breast cancer cell will grow, differentiate or die, and the mechanism by which the cell will die (apoptosis, autophagy, necrosis, senescence), in response to therapy.

Currently, Dr. Clarke leads several multinational molecular medicine studies in breast cancer, with several colleagues within the breast cancer program at Georgetown, and in collaboration with Dr. Minetta Liu (Mayo Clinic) and collaborators at Virginia Tech and the University of Edinburgh (Scotland). With Dr. Subha Madhavan at LCCC, he leads an NCI-funded In Silico Research Center of Excellence. Dr. Clarke is regularly invited to speak about his research at international and national meetings. Representative publications from his bibliography can be found elsewhere in this profile. Dr. Clarke served as a member (2010-2014) and as Chair (2011-2013) of the NIH peer-review study section Basic Mechanisms of Cancer Therapeutics; previously he had served a term as Chair of the Basic Science study section for NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2002-2008), now call the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. He also serves on the editorial boards of over a dozen international peer review journals. For example, Dr. Clarke is a Senior Editor for the journal Cancer Research, an Associate Editor for Endocrine-Related Cancer, and a member of the Editorial Boards of over a dozen journals including Clinical Cancer Research, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, and British Journal of Cancer. Dr. Clarke also is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in the U.K.

Interim Director for the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC), home to 60% of biomedical research at GUMC, and an Associate Vice President of GUMC, Dr. Clarke is also Co-Director (with Dr. Claudine Isaacs) of the Breast Cancer Program (Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center). He served as a member of the Georgetown University Faculty Senate (2002-2011) and as Secretary-Treasurer (2004-2007).


  • D.Sc. (1999) The Queen's University of Belfast, UK, Biochemistry
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (1987-1988) National Cancer Institute, NIH, USA, Breast Cancer
  • Ph.D. (1986) The Queen's University of Belfast, UK, Biochemistry
  • M.Sc. (1982) The Queen's University of Belfast, UK, Biochemistry
  • B.Sc. (1980) University of Ulster at Jordanstown, UK, Biological Sciences