Dr. Greenberg has been awarded a Medical Research Grant by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, one of the oldest community organizations in the world, the goal of which is to address the most critical needs of the Milwaukee community and ensure the vitality of the region. Dr. Greenberg’s project will study the symptoms directly associated with cognitive decline due to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients, sometimes called “chemobrain” or “chemofog”. More specifically, Dr. Greenberg and his team will measure the effects of chemotherapy on human behavior using quantitative tests of visual and auditory attention. They will then use brain imaging techniques to identify biomarkers of chemobrain symptoms with the hope of eventually being able to predict whether (and to what degree) a patient who needs chemotherapy will develop chemobrain symptoms. This project will also strengthen ties between UW-Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin, from where the breast cancer patients will be recruited for this study.
Chemotherapy, which involves delivery of strong cocktails of anti-cancer medications, increases breast cancer survival. However, as many as 40% of patients undergoing chemotherapy report problems with attention and other cognitive abilities. Thus, even after surviving cancer, these individuals often cannot return to work or resume basic activities such as driving, reading, and sleeping. This research aims to identify quantitative behavioral & neurological markers predictive of chemobrain symptoms. The ultimate goal is to understand the mechanisms of chemobrain so that we may someday be able to warn patients of their vulnerability to chemobrain symptoms in advance of chemotherapy (possibly leading to auxiliary cognitive rehabilitation therapies that can guard against chemobrain symptoms).