Dr. Balk received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School/Harvard-MIT HST Program, and his Medical Oncology training at BIDMC and DFCI. His lab has focused on prostate cancer biology; particularly on functions of androgen receptor (AR) and interacting pathways in prostate cancer, and mechanisms of resistance to AR targeted therapies.
Dr. Steven Balk's lab developed methods to analyze advanced metastatic PCa through the use of bone marrow biopsies and showed that one mechanism for disease progression after androgen deprivation therapy was through mutations in the androgen receptor (AR). These mutations occur specifically in patients treated with an AR antagonist, flutamide, and are the result of strong selective pressure exerted by this drug. In subsequent studies his lab has further established a critical role for AR in PCa that relapses after androgen deprivation therapy, and identified mechanisms that mediate AR reactivation (including enhanced androgen synthesis by tumor cells). These results have led directly to successful clinical trials with translational as well as clinical endpoints. An additional current focus is mechanisms of progression from low grade to high grade prostate cancer, which will have an impact on management of low grade disease. In conjunction with these research efforts, he has directed the establishment of a prostate cancer tissue bank and correlative clinical database.