Genomic Medicine Researcher

Welcome! My name is Brennan, and I am a Brigham and Women's Hospital Pathology resident committed to applying genomic technologies to clinical questions.

I have been hooked on genomic medicine since contributing to analysis of exome sequencing to uncover and treat the genetic cause of a young patient's severe inflammatory bowel disease. (link) This transformative experience led me to the NIH and the University of Cambridge, where I explored the innumerable applications of genomics in cancer biology. As a pathology resident and researcher, I aim to discover genetic biomarkers that may improve cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment selection, and disease monitoring.

I'm always keen to discuss the intersections of genomic medicine, cancer biology, and technology. Contact me!

Check out the latest
Aug. 4, 2017

Damaging mutations in ATM, CHEK2, and PALB2 confer a moderate inherited risk of breast cancer. We confirmed and quantified this risk in the largest case-control study of these genes to date. Journal of Medical Genetics link →

Apr. 14, 2016

Identifying aggressive prostate tumors is a key cancer research goal. We defined a new molecular subtype of prostate cancer that results from mutations in the BRCA2 gene. Our result may be used as an indicator of patients who might respond to a promising new class of treatments, PARP inhibitors. The American Journal of Human Genetics link →

Feb. 1, 2016

The breast cancer risk gene that isn't: BRIP1. We set the record straight in a multi-method study of 64,523 cases and 51,973 controls. PubMed link →

Aug. 1, 2015

How did an ancient canine tumor evolve the ability to be transmitted from one individual to another, and do so for thousands of years? Catch a glimpse in my new paper in Genome Research! PubMed link →

Apr. 13, 2015

A sample of the online interest in my latest paper: "Dogs may help researchers sniff out new cancer detection and treatment strategies" Internet Medicine link →

Mar. 18, 2015

Check out my paper in Molecular Cancer Research, which highlights a naturally occurring model system for a mutation in the BRAF gene, a genetic lesion that contributes to 8% of all human tumors. PubMed link →

Jan. 5, 2015

The Ostrander Lab is teaming up with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to sequence genetic material from the oldest domesticated canine skeleton identified in the Americas. I helped with the sampling and took some photos! Bioscholar link →

Aug. 5, 2014

Along with my NIH PhD supervisor, Elaine Ostrander, I wrote a review article on the role of the HOXB13 gene in prostate cancer risk. A single variant in this crucial developmental regulator is the first to be strongly associated with a moderate increase in risk. PubMed link →

Mar. 28, 2013

The Ostrander Lab studies both prostate cancer and canine genomics. Everyone in the lab works on at least one canine project, and I've contributed to several during my PhD. In one of these, we uncovered a copy number variant near the KITLG locus that works with other genes to increase risk of nailbed cancer. PubMed link →

Another example is a study led by Jeff Schoenebeck (now at the University of Edinburgh), in which we identified a variant in the BMP3 gene that plays a role in the skull shape of dogs with smushed faces, including pugs and bulldogs. PubMed link →

Jun. 2, 2012

Wauwatosa Now featured me and my PhD consortium, the NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program! Wauwatosa Now link →

Dec. 18, 2010

Read the Pulitzer Prize-winning article about Nic Volker, the first patient to have the treatment for his exceedingly rare disease guided by clinical exome sequencing. I worked on analyzing Nic's genetic variants to identify the disease-causing mutation. Milwaukee Journal Sentinal link →

Peer-Reviewed Publications
PubMed | ORCiD | Google Scholar
541 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Worthey EA, Mayer AN, Syverson GD Helbling D, Bonacci BB, Decker B, Serpe JM, Dasu T, Tschannen MR, Veith RL, Basehore MJ, Broeckel U, Tomita-Mitchell A, Casper JT, Margolis DA, Bick DP, Hessner MJ, Routes JM, Verbsky JW, Jacob HJ, Dimmock DP. (2011). Making a definitive diagnosis: Successful clinical application of whole exome sequencing in a child with intractable inflammatory bowel disease. Genetics in Medicine. 2011;13(3):255-262.
  • PubMed link →
    73 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Schoenebeck JJ, Hutchinson SA, Byers A, Beale HC, Carrington B, Faden DL, Rimbault M, Decker B, Kidd JM, Sood R, Boyko AR, Fondon JW 3rd, Wayne RK, Bustamante CD, Ciruna B, Ostrander EA. (2012). Variation of BMP3 contributes to dog breed skull diversity. PLOS Genetics. 2012;8(8):e1002849.
  • PubMed link →
    26 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Karyadi DM, Karlins E, Decker B, vonHoldt BM, Carpintero-Ramirez G, Parker HG, Wayne RK, Ostrander EA. A copy number variant at the KITLG locus likely confers risk for canine squamous cell carcinoma of the digit. (2013). PLOS Genetics. 2013;9(3):e1003409.
  • PubMed link →
    20 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Easton DF, Lesueur F, Decker B, Michailidou K, Li J, Allen J, Luccarini C, Pooley KA, Shah M, Bolla MK, Wang Q, Dennis J, Ahmad J, Thompson ER, Damiola F, Pertesi M, Voegele C, Mebirouk N, Robinot N, Durand G, Forey N, Luben RN, Ahmed S, Aittomäki K, Anton-Culver H, Arndt V, Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group, Baynes C, Beckman MW, Benitez J, Van Den Berg D, Blot WJ, Bogdanova NV, Bojesen SE, Brenner H, Chang-Claude J, Chia KS, Choi JY, Conroy DM, Cox A, Cross SS, Czene K, Darabi H, Devilee P, Eriksson M, Fasching PA, Figueroa J, Flyger H, Fostira F, García-Closas M, Giles GG, Glendon G, González-Neira A, Guénel P, Haiman CA, Hall P, Hart SN, Hartman M, Hooning MJ, Hsiung CN, Ito H, Jakubowska A, James PA, John EM, Johnson N, Jones M, Kabisch M, Kang D, kConFab Investigators, Kosma VM, Kristensen V, Lambrechts D, Li N, Lifepool Investigators, Lindblom A, Long J, Lophatananon A, Lubinski J, Mannermaa A, Manoukian S, Margolin S, Matsuo K, Meindl A, Mitchell G, Muir K, NBCS Investigators, Nevelsteen I, van den Ouweland A, Peterlongo P, Phuah SY, Pylkäs K, Rowley SM, Sangrajrang S, Schmutzler RK, Shen CY, Shu XO, Southey MC, Surowy H, Swerdlow A, Teo SH, Tollenaar RAEM, Tomlinson I, Torres D, Truong T, Vachon C, Verhoef S, Wong-Brown M, Zheng W, Zheng Y, Nevanlinna H, Scott RJ, Andrulis IL, Wu AH, Hopper JL, Couch FJ, Winqvist R, Burwinkel B, Sawyer EJ, Schmidt MK, Rudolph A, Dörk T, Brauch H, Hamann U, Neuhausen SL, Milne RL, Fletcher O, Pharoah PDP, Campbell IG, Dunning AM, Le Calvez-Kelm F, Goldgar DE, Tavtigian SV, Chenevix-Trench G. (2016). No evidence that protein truncating variants in BRIP1 are associated with breast cancer risk: implications for gene panel testing. Journal of Medical Genetics. 53(5):298-309.
  • PubMed link →
    19 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Decker B, Parker HG, Dhawan D, KwonD EM, Karlins E, Davis BW, Ramos-Vara JA, Bonney PL, McNiel EA, Knapp DW, and Ostrander EA. (2015). Homologous mutation to human BRAF V600E is common in naturally occurring canine bladder cancer-Evidence for a relevant model system and urine-based diagnostic test. Molecular Cancer Research. 2015;13(6):993-1002.
  • PubMed link →
    12 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Decker B, Kellermayer MSZ. (2008). Periodically arranged interactions within the myosin filament backbone revealed by mechanical unzipping. Journal of Molecular Biology. 2008;377(2):307-310.
  • PubMed link →
    12 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Decker B, Davis BW, Rimbault M, Long AH, Karlins E, Parker HG, Jagannathan V, Reiman R, Drögemüller C, Corneveaux JJ, Chapman ES, Trent JM, Leeb T, Huentelman MJ, Wayne RK, Karyadi DM, Ostrander EA. (2016). Comparison against 186 canid whole genome sequences reveals survival strategies of an ancient clonally transmissible canine tumor. Genome Research. 25(11):1646-55.
  • PubMed link →
    8 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Decker B, Karyadi DM, Davis BW, Karlins E, Tillmans LS, Stanford JL, Thibodeau SN, Ostrander EA. (2016). Biallelic BRCA2 mutations shape the somatic mutational landscape of aggressive prostate tumors. The American Journal of Human Genetics. 98(5):818-29.
  • PubMed link →
    7 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Decker B and Ostrander EA. (2014). Dysregulation of the homeobox transcription factor gene HOXB13: Role in prostate cancer. Review. Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine. 2014;7:193-201.
  • PubMed link →
    1 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Karyadi DM, Geybels MS, Karlins E, Decker B, McIntosh L, Kolb S, Mullen A, McDonnell SK, Middha S, Schaid DJ, Thibodeau SN, Stanford JL, Ostrander EA. (2017). Whole exome sequencing in 75 high-risk families with validation and replication in independent case-control studies identifies TANGO2, OR5H14, and CHAD as new prostate cancer susceptibility genes. Oncotarget. 8(1):1495-1507.
  • PubMed link →
    0 Citations (Google Scholar)
  • Decker B, Allen J, Luccarini C, Pooley KA, Shah M, Bolla MK, Wang Q, Ahmed S, Baynes C, Conroy DM, Brown J, Luben R, Ostrander EA, Pharoah PDP, Dunning AM, Easton DF. (2017). Rare, protein-truncating variants in ATM, CHEK2 and PALB2 , but not XRCC2, are associated with increased breast cancer risks. Journal of Medical Genetics. E-published ahead of print.
  • PubMed link →
    curriculum vitae
    Current Affiliations
    2017 - present
    Department of Pathology
    Brigham and Women's Hospital
    Harvard Medical School

    2012 - 2017
    Easton Lab
    Centre for Cancer Genetic Epidemiology
    Department of Public Health and Primary Care
    University of Cambridge

    2011 - 2017
    Ostrander Lab
    Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch
    National Human Genome Research Institute
    National Institutes of Health
    2017 - present
    Clinical Fellow in Pathology
    Brigham and Women's Hospital
    Harvard Medical School
    Boston, Massachusetts

    2012 - 2017
    Doctor of Philosophy
    NIH-Cambridge Scholars Program
    Trinity College, University of Cambridge
    Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Thesis: Genomic Approaches to Prostate Cancer Tumourigenesis and Susceptibility to Breast Cancer

    2008 - 2017
    Medical Doctor
    Medical Scientist Training Program
    Medical College of Wisconsin
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    2002 - 2006
    Bachelor of Arts
    St. Olaf College
    Northfield, Minnesota
    Majors: Biology and Chemistry
    Contact info
    • Please use this form to email me.