Cathrin Brisken received her MD in 1992 and a Doctorate in Biophysics in 1993 at the Georg August-University, Göttingen. She carried out postdoctoral work with Dr. R.A. Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA, USA and became a research scientist there in 1999. In 2001, she was appointed assistant professor at the Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston. In 2002, she joined ISREC (Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research) as an associate scientist in the NCCR Molecular Oncology program. In 2012, she was appointed Associate Professor at the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) School of Life Sciences. From 2012 to 2014 she served as Dean of EPFL Doctoral School. She is member of IBCSG (International Breast Cancer Study Group) Biological Protocol Working Group and a former member of the Hinterzartener Kreis, the German Cancer Think Tank.
Her research focus is on genetic dissection of signaling pathways important in breast development and breast cancer:
Breast cancer strikes one out of eight women in Switzerland. A woman's risk to get breast cancer is linked to her reproductive history. While early pregnancies have a protective effect, cancer risk increases with the number of menstrual cycles a woman experiences prior to her first pregnancy. Although it is well established that the female sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and prolactin control breast development and have an important role in breast carcinogenesis, the mechanisms by which they exert their effects are poorly understood. Her laboratory studies how hormones interact with developmental signaling pathways in the breast to control growth and differentiation and how they impinge on breast cancer development.