Dr. Kleer is the Director of the Breast Pathology Division in the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan. She is an active member of the surgical pathology staff and the Breast Care Center, where she contributes with her knowledge of diagnostic breast pathology.
Dr. Kleer is a physician scientist, whose research is dedicated to understand how breast cancer invades and metastasizes, and translate mechanistic discoveries into clinical application to improve the lives of women with breast cancer. The Kleer laboratory has identified that EZH2, a regulator of transcriptional memory, is overexpressed in invasive breast carcinomas that developed metastasis when compared with those which followed an indolent clinical course. Her studies have established a causal link between EZH2 and breast cancer invasion and metastasis. Dr. Kleer’s work is shifting our current thinking on the functions of EZH2 by identifying that EZH2 regulates genomic stability and triggers invasion through non-canonical mechanisms, independent of its transcriptional repressor function. The Kleer lab has developed the only mouse model of EZH2 overexpression targeted to the mammary gland, which may facilitate the discovery of new medicines to target EZH2.
Dr. Kleer has a particular interest in deciphering why some breast cancers are aggressive while others are not, and the role of the cancer microenvironment in tumor progression. Towards this end, her laboratory has found that the matrix protein CCN6/WISP3 is a new tumor suppressor in breast cancer. This work, which spans over a decade, is particularly important since it demonstrates that the microenvironment exerts a powerful influence in cancer progression through a novel mechanism. The Kleer lab has dissected the molecular pathways altered by CCN6 loss and has found that it is a regulator of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and E-cadherin expression.
Dr. Kleer served as a permanent member of the Tumor Progression and Metastasis NIH Study Section from 2008-2012. She was awarded the 2013 Ramzi Cotran Young Investigator Award from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, and was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI) in 2014. Dr. Kleer is devoted to mentoring students, fellows, residents, and junior faculty members.