Dr. Angela Brodie was inspired to study science by her father, an organic chemist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Sheffield and then worked as a research assistant in the Department of Hormone Research at the Christie Cancer Hospital in Manchester. She spent two years studying estrogen-dependent breast cancer before beginning her doctoral studies at the University of Manchester.
After earning her PhD in chemical pathology in 1961, Brodie began a one year post-doctoral fellowship through the National Institutes of Health in America. At the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, she worked on a team studying aldosterone as an oral contraceptive. It was during this time she met her husband, Dr. Harry Brodie, another scientist working at the lab.
In 1971, Brodie changed her focus to cancer research, and began looking at the link between breast cancer, estrogen, and the enzyme aromatase. When she began her research, drugs were used to block cancer cells from binding to the estrogen receptor. She thought that it could be better to take a different approach by inhibiting the synthesis of estrogen, keeping the hormone from being produced. This then “starves” the cancer cells that depend on the hormone, which helps prevent the cancer from recurring.
The result of this research was Formestane, a steroidal aromatase inhibitor that became the first of its kind, becoming a safer alternative to previous non-surgical treatments after it was released in 1994.
Brodie joined the faculty of the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine in 1979, and became a researcher at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. Over her career she has published over 200 papers, and her research is credited with saving thousands of lives.
In 2005, Brodie became the first woman to win the Kettering Prize, awarded for outstanding contributions in the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. She became part of the first class of fellows in the American Association for Cancer Research in 2013, and she continues to teach at the University of Maryland as a professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. She is currently researching and testing possible androgen inhibitors which may be used in the treatment of prostate cancer.
Written by Mary Ratliff