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Xandra Breakefield

Former faculty

Contact Information

Xandra Breakefield


Department: Department of Human Genetics

Years active at Yale: 1974-1984

Dr. Breakefieldis being recognized for her international leadership in the field of the genetics and gene therapy of brain tumors. She has been at the forefront of research on gene therapy for brain tumors, including such novel killing mechanisms as prodrug-activating enzymes delivered by oncolytic virus vectors and neuroprecursor cells as homing vehicles for delivery of therapeutic proteins. She has also led efforts in new methods of in vivo molecular imaging of gene delivery and tumor regression, and modulation of microRNAs in tumors and associated endothelial cells to kill tumor stem cells and block angiogenesis. She and her colleagues are now characterizing the role of exosomes produced by tumor cells in the manipulation of normal tissue to promote tumor expansion and as serum biomarkers to monitor tumor status.

She is now at Harvard, where she is a professor of neurology and a geneticist in the neurology and radiology services at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Breakefield is a member of Scientific Advisory Board at Exosome Diagnostics, Inc. She has served on the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee and is a member of an NIH study section that reviews translational research.