Betsy Hirsch, PhD

Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Betsy Hirsch

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-273-4952

Fax 612-273-4689

Mailing Address:
MMC 609 Mayo
420 Delaware
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Director, Cancer Genomics Shared Resource, Masonic Cancer Center (MCC)


PhD, University of Minnesota (Behavioral Genetics), 1982

Jackson College of Tufts University (Psychology), 1976

ABMG, University of Minnesota (Clinical Cytogenetics), 1987


Dr. Hirsch is a cytogeneticist, a member of the Division of Molecular Pathology and Genomics, and director of the UMMC Cytogenetics Laboratory and director of the Cancer Center’s Cytogenomics Laboratory, which provides investigators with a variety of cytogenetic and molecular cytogenetic services. Hirsch uses cytogenetic and molecular cytogenetic techniques to analyze and elucidate chromosome abnormalities in inherited disorders, cancer, and residual disease in cancer patients before and following treatment. In clinically oriented studies, her laboratory is involved in the development and application of high-resolution chromosome banding and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) techniques. In more basic studies, research in Hirsch's laboratory is focused on the identification of genetic and environmental factors that can predict an individual's cellular responses to DNA damage and can account for the observed inter-individual variability in these responses.


Research Summary/Interests

Hirsch has been coordinator of cytogenetic in studies of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) conducted by the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. COG unites more than 8,000 experts in childhood cancer from around the world. Hirsch and her colleagues have found that recurrent cytogenetic and molecular abnormalities are powerful predictors of relapse and survival in both adult and pediatric AML and that high expression of certain genes is strongly associated with poor prognosis. They have also found that multi-dimensional flow cytometry combined with cytogenetic and molecular analysis can predict which patients with residual disease are most likely to relapse.

COG investigators including Hirsch recently conducted a multi-institutional, multi-platform microarray study of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that integrated results from both cytogenetic and molecular analysis. The results demonstrated the complementary roles of FISH, genomic microarray, and G-banding chromosome analysis in characterizing the leukemic clone and will facilitate ALL patient care as well as basic and translational research. In basic research, Hirsch is working with Michael Farrar to develop transposon-based screens for identifying altered genes involved in ALL.


  • Poynter JN; Richardson M; Blair CK; Roesler MA; Hirsch BA; Nguyen P; Cioc A; Warlick E; Cerhan JR; Ross JA. Obesity over the life course and risk of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. Cancer Epidemiology. 40:134-40, 2016 Feb.
  • Baughn LB; Biegel JA; South ST; Smolarek TA; Volkert S; Carroll AJ; Heerema NA; Rabin KR; Zweidler-McKay PA; Loh M; Hirsch B. Integration of cytogenomic data for furthering the characterization of pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a multi-institution, multi-platform microarray study. Cancer Genetics. 208(1-2):1-18, 2015.
  • Ross, Julie A.; Poynter, Jenny N.; Nguyen, Phuong L.; Hirsch, Betsy A.; ; Roesler, Michelle A.; Warlick, Erica D. Differences in community and academic practice patterns for newly diagnosed myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) patients. Cancer Epidemiology, 2014.
  • Ostronoff, Fabiana; Othus, Megan D D; Gerbing, Robert B.; Loken, Michael R.; Raimondi, Susana Catalina; Hirsch, Betsy A.; Lange, Beverly J.; Petersdorf, Stephen H.; Radich, Jerald P P.; Appelbaum, Frederick R.; Gamis, Alan S.; Alonzo, Todd A.; Meshinchi, Soheil. NUP98/NSD1 and FLT3/ITD coexpression is more prevalent in younger AML patients and leads to induction failure: A COG and SWOG report. Blood 124(15) 2400-2407, 2014.
  • Gamis, Alan S.; Alonzo, Todd A.; Meshinchi, Soheil; Sung, Lillian; Gerbing, Robert B.; Raimondi, Susana Catalina; Hirsch, Betsy A.; Kahwash, Samir B.; Heerema-Mckenney, Amy E.; Winter, Laura W.; Glick, Kathleen M.; Davies, Stella M.; Byron, Patti; Smith, Franklin O.; Aplenc, Richard. Gemtuzumab ozogamicin in children and adolescents with de novo acute myeloid leukemia improves event-free survival by reducing relapse risk: Results from the randomized phase iII children's oncology group Trial AAML0531. Journal of Clinical Oncology 32(27) 2031-2032, 2014.
  • Mitchell, Richard L.; Wagner, John E.; Hirsch, Betsy A.; Defor, Todd E.; Zierhut, Heather A.; MacMillan, Margaret L. Haematopoietic cell transplantation for acute leukaemia and advanced myelodysplastic syndrome in Fanconi anaemia. British Journal of Haematology 164(3) 384-395, 2014
  • Johnston, Donna Lynn; Alonzo, Todd A.; Gerbing, Robert B.; Hirsch, Betsy A.; Heerema, Nyla A.; Ravindranath, Yaddanapudi; Woods, William G.; Lange, Beverly J.; Gamis, Alan S.; Raimondi, Susana Catalina. Outcome of pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and -5/5q- abnormalities from five pediatric AML treatment protocols: A report from the Children's Oncology Group. Pediatric Blood and Cancer. 60(12) 2073-2078, 2013.
  • Poynter, Jenny N.; Fonstad, Rachel K.; Blair, Cindy K.; Roesler, Michelle A.; Cerhan, James R.; Hirsch, Betsy A.; Nguyen, Phuong L.; Ross, Julie A. Exogenous hormone use, reproductive history and risk of adult myeloid leukaemia. 109(7) 1895-1898, 2013