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Angela Hartley Brodie, PhD , professor emeritus in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), and an internationally recognized scientist whose groundbreaking cancer research is considered among the greatest advances in treating breast cancer, passed away today of complications from Parkinson’s disease at her home in Fulton, Md. She was 82.
Brodie's research revolutionized the treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancer worldwide. She pioneered the development of aromatase inhibitors, which are now considered among the most important contributions toward treating estrogen-driven breast cancer, the most common form of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Her work developing aromatase inhibitors was a paradigm-shifting effort that began in the 1970s and was designed to reduce the level of estrogen in the body and thereby block the growth of cancer cells. Aromatase is an enzyme that plays a key role in the biosynthesis of estrogen, which fuels the growth of cancer cells.
A number of investigators have reported on a rather rare syndrome of excess aromatase activity. In boys, it can lead to gynecomastia , and in girls to precocious puberty and gigantomastia . In both sexes, early epiphyseal closure leads to short stature. This condition is due to mutations in the CYP19A1 gene which encodes aromatase.  It is inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion.  It has been suggested that the pharaoh Akhenaten and other members of his family may have suffered from this disorder,  but more recent genetic tests suggest otherwise.  It is one of the causes of familial precocious puberty—a condition first described in 1937.