Matthew Stachler, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Project Title

Immune Determinants of Barrett’s Esophagus Progression

Named Award

The Shure Family Charitable Foundation in memory of Max Shure


Assistant Professor


University of California, San Francisco, Calif.

My “Why”

I have always had an interest in science and my interest in cancer research grew in tandem, as it seemed like more and more people, I knew, were being affected by it. Over time, it became apparent that I wanted to focus my career on cancer research.

My Mission

As pathologists, our focus is on making diagnoses. Throughout my training, the pre-cancerous samples were the most challenging ones. On top of the clinical relevance, I became fascinated by the process of cells “transforming” into cancer.

It seemed to me that if we could do a better job of recognizing and diagnosing early lesions at high risk of becoming cancer, we would be in a better position to treat the patient early and potentially prevent them from getting cancer entirely.

Research Overview

Esophageal adenocarcinoma is a deadly cancer that is increasing in frequency. It arises out of a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus that can form in the lower esophagus due to chronic heart burn or gastroesophageal reflux disease. While Barrett’s esophagus is very common, only a small percentage of patients will progress to cancer. This makes it difficult to develop screening and surveillance strategies to determine the correct patients to treat early.

The goal of this project is to understand how inflammation and other normal cells near the pre-cancerous Barrett’s esophagus cells, either promote or fight against the progression to invasive cancer. With this knowledge, we want to develop effective ways to predict whether those with Barrett’s esophagus are at high or low risk of developing cancer.

We will develop a detailed understanding of what cells are present, how the different cell populations change over time and if there are differences between patients whose cells progress to cancer versus those who have Barrett’s esophagus but whose cells never progress to cancer.

Why Funding Matters

Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation will be extremely valuable to move our research forward. This project is a relatively new, yet essential, direction for my laboratory.

Having support from the Foundation will allow the project to truly take off and grow. Data and results generated from these studies will allow new ideas to be developed and will contribute to improvement in research studying how inflammation and the non-neoplastic cells influence pre-cancerous cells to turn into invasive cancer.

My Hope

[My hope] is to gain a better understanding of how inflammatory cells influence pre-cancerous progression (both positively and negatively). I believe that this study will be of significant value toward the prevention and early detection of esophageal cancer.