Dr. Collins’ research, teaching and clinical activities have focused primarily on diseases of the breast. The contributions made in these areas have resulted in her recognition locally, nationally and internationally as a leader in the area of breast pathology.
Dr. Collins has been involved in studies that have helped to elucidate prognostic factors in patients with small breast cancers and risk factors for local recurrence in patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast treated with excision alone. She was the lead author on the first study to report on interobserver agreement in the diagnoses rendered on breast core needle biopsies. She collaborated with Nurses’ Health Study investigators to help define the natural history of DCIS by studying the outcome of women with DCIS treated by diagnostic biopsy alone. In ongoing collaborations with the Nurses’ Health Study investigators, Dr. Collins is involved in the evaluation of benign breast disease and breast cancer risk, and in particular she has studied the influence of a positive family history of breast cancer on risk in women with biopsy-confirmed benign breast disease and she has evaluated the magnitude and laterality of subsequent breast cancer risk in women with atypical hyperplasias of the breast. Dr. Collins is the lead pathologist on an epidemiologic-pathologic study of 3,200 women with breast cancer that is using tissue microarrays as a platform to evaluate a variety biomarkers. The goal is to relate breast cancer risk factors to biomarker expression, to relate biomarker expression to outcome, and to assess biomarkers as possible therapeutic targets. Additionally, she serves as a reference pathologist on a multi-institutional study evaluating risk factors for recurrence in almost 1000 women with DCIS treated with breast conserving therapy and she is the principal pathologist for a study evaluating breast cancer and survivorship in young women coordinated through the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.