IU cancer center names new director for the world’s only healthy breast tissue bank
Sep 01, 2022
Michele Coté, PhD, will serve as director of the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center
INDIANAPOLIS— The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center has named Michele Coté, PhD, director of the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank, the world’s only healthy breast tissue bank. Coté assumes the role Sept. 1.
Researchers at the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center collect and share healthy breast tissue samples with researchers worldwide to help further the understanding of how breast cells turn cancerous. Coté is the second director of the tissue bank and will expand the bank’s research with an epidemiological focus, studying the impact of long-term lifestyle and environmental influences on breast biology. She succeeds Anna Maria Storniolo, MD, a pioneering clinical scientist who co-founded the tissue bank in 2007.
“Dr. Coté is the perfect choice to lead the Komen Tissue Bank to reach its potential. She provides longitudinal perspectives on how and why breast cells become cancerous. We created the bank to be poised for this moment, and I am thrilled that we have arrived,” Storniolo said. “Her passion for the tissue bank’s mission will guide its continued growth and impact on breast cancer research worldwide.”
Storniolo plans to continue her involvement with the tissue bank as a volunteer. She will retire at the end of this year.
In addition to her role with the Komen Tissue Bank, Coté is the inaugural Dr. Carrie Ann Glasscock West Chair in Breast Carcinogenesis at IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI. Coté is the first person to hold the Dr. Carrie Ann Glasscock West Chair in Breast Carcinogenesis, which was established by a $2 million gift from The Glasscock Family Foundation Inc. West was a medical student when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Storniolo served as both her mentor and oncologist as she graduated and pursued a career in holistic medicine as an internist. West succumbed to breast cancer in 2016.
An internationally recognized molecular cancer epidemiologist and health disparities researcher, Coté has more than 20 years of experience in scientific research and educational program management. She joins IU from Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, where she was a professor in the Department of Oncology. She also served as an associate center director for cancer research training and education at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.
“I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the ongoing scientific projects at the Komen Tissue Bank, while also developing ways to keep the tissue bank at the forefront of research for the next decade and beyond,” Coté said. “I expect we will continue to grow in the number of participants, enhance follow-up and engagement of participants over time—all with the constant goal of remaining flexible and responsive to needs from the research community.”
Coté first learned about the Komen Tissue Bank from a colleague in Michigan. Together, they organized a tissue donation event in Detroit, where 189 women donated. Coté’s connection with the Komen Tissue Bank includes use of the tissue in some of her research and even participating as a tissue donor.
In her research, Coté explores how benign breast disease impacts risk of subsequent cancer. She also conducts research to understand why incidences of endometrial cancer are increasing, particularly high-grade cancers with poorer survival.
Coté earned her doctorate in epidemiologic sciences from the University of Michigan, and her master of public health in epidemiology from the University of Alabama.
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.