About the Lab

Jan Heng, PhD

Jan Heng, PhD


Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Dana 517B
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston MA, 02215

Dr. Heng is Assistant Professor of Pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). She joined the Department of Pathology faculty as Instructor in 2015, and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 2017. She leads a breast cancer translational research laboratory group to elucidate the underlying pathophysiology that predisposes or causes breast cancer, and discovers biomarkers that can be translated into clinically-relevant modalities.

Dr. Heng graduated from the University of Tasmania, Australia (B.Biomed Sc (Honours)) and the University of Melbourne, Australia (PhD). She was one of 10 PhD students selected by the University to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Commercialization at Melbourne Business School. She completed her first post-doctoral training at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada. During her training in Australia and Canada, she developed protein biomarkers and gene signatures to predict the onset of spontaneous human labor. She transitioned to breast cancer research for her second fellowship at BIDMC (2014-2015).

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)

Dr. Heng and her mentor, Dr. Andrew Beck, curated a histopathological database to complement TCGA breast cancer cases and conducted the largest integrative morphology-genomic analyses in breast cancer.

Dr. Heng participated in another TCGA initiative led by Dr. Susan Hankinson where they collected breast cancer risk factor information from a subset of TCGA women. This unique epidemiological dataset allows the team to investigate the association of breast cancer risk factors and tumor molecular profiles.

The Nurses' Health Study (NHS)

She collaborates with the NHS for molecular pathology epidemiology research, including understanding how epidemiological factors influence the molecular profiles of breast tumors to understand disease progression and survival. Her team also creates artificial intelligence medical image analysis research tools to identify novel biomarkers associated with breast cancer risk.

Gender Affirming Hormonal Therapy (GAHT) and Breast Health

Dr. Heng established a multidisciplinary research team at BIDMC to better understand the impact of GAHT on breast physiology and pathophysiology.

Selected Publications
  1. Heng YJ, Lester SC, Tse GMK, Factor RE, Allison KH, Collins LC, Chen Y, Jensen KC, Johnson NB, Jeong JC, Punjabi R, Shin SJ, Singh K, Krings G, Eberhard DA, Tan PH, Korski K, Waldman FM, Gutman DA, Sanders M, Reis-Filho JS, Flanagan SR, Gendoo DMA, Chen GM, Haibe-Kains B, Ciriello G, Hoadley KA, Perou CM and Beck AH. The molecular basis of breast cancer pathological phenotypes. (2017) J Pathol, 241, 375-391.
  2. Veta M, Heng YJ, Stathonikos N, Ehteshami Bejnordi B, Beca F, Wollmann T, Rohr K, Shah MA, Wang D, Rousson M, Hedlund M, Tellez D, Ciompi F, Zerhouni E, Viana M, Kovalev V, Liauchuk V, Ahmady Phoulady H, Qaiser T, Graham S, Rajpoot N, Sjoblom E, Molin J, Paeng K, Hwang S, Park S, Jia Z, Chang EI, Xu Y, Beck AH, van Diest P and Pluim JPW. Predicting breast tumor proliferation from whole-slide images: the TUPAC16 challenge. (2019) Med Image Anal, 54, 111-121.
  3. Heng YJ, Wang J, Ahearn TU, Brown SB, Zhang X, Ambrosone CB, de Andrade VP, Brufsky AM, Couch FJ, King TA, Modugno F, Vachon CM, DuPre NC, Garcia-Closas M, Troester MA, Hunter DJ, Eliassen AH, Tamimi RM, Hankinson SE and Beck AH. Molecular mechanisms linking high body mass index to breast cancer etiology in post-menopausal breast tumor and tumor-adjacent tissues. (2019) Breast Cancer Res Treat, 173, 667-677.
  4. Kensler KH, Sankar VN, Wang J, Zhang X, Rubadue CA, Baker GM, Parker JS, Hoadley KA, Stancu AL, Pyle ME, Collins LC, Hunter DJ, Eliassen AH, Hankinson SE, Tamimi RM and Heng YJ. PAM50 molecular intrinsic subtypes in the Nurses’ Health Study cohorts. (2019) Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 28, 798-806.
  5. Eismann J, Heng YJ, Fleischmann-Rose K, Tobias AM, Phillips J, Wulf GM and Kansal KJ. Interdisciplinary management of transgender individuals at risk for breast cancer: Case reports and review of the literature (2019) Clin Breast Cancer, 19, e-12-e19.
  6. Heng YJ, Pennell CE, HN Chua, Perkins JE and Lye SJ. Whole blood gene expression profile associated with spontaneous preterm birth in women with threatened preterm labor. (2014) PLoS One, 9, e96901.
  7. Heng YJ, Liong S, Permezel M, Rice GE, Di Quinzio MK and Georgiou HM. Human cervicovaginal fluid biomarkers to predict term and preterm labor. (2015) Front Physiol, 6, 151.