Betsy Hirsch, PhD

Co-Director, Cancer Genomics Shared Resource

420 Delaware Street SE
MMC 609 Mayo
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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 oversees the development and utilization of cytogenetic and molecular cytogenetic techniques to analyze and elucidate chromosome abnormalities in inherited disorders and cancer utilizing. She is Director of the ABMG Laboratory Genetics and Genomics Fellowship, and is active in the development and writing of national guidelines for laboratory’s performing cytogenetic and molecular cytogenetic studies such as microarrays, particularly as applied to cancer.


Dr. Hirsch has two major areas of research focus: chromosome instability and the cytogenomic landscape of myeloid and lymphoid neoplasms. The University of Minnesota has a comprehensive Fanconi anemia center, and her laboratory has been involved in the development of methods and algorithms for diagnosis of FA, for differentiating subtypes of FA, and for monitoring for emergence of clinically significant clones that may herald the development of myelodyspalstic syndrome, leukemia., and/or solid tumors. As a member of the Children’s Oncology Group cytogenetic and myeloid disease committees, she reviewsall cytogenetic analyses performed on patients enrolled on myeloid studies, in addition to developing biology studies aimed at improving risk stratification for pediatric AML, and elucidating factors involved in disease progression.Additionally, as the Director of a research Cytogenomics Core resource of a Cancer Genomics Center, herlaboratory has facilitated the research of investigators at the University of Minnesota’sMasonic Cancer Center and other Cancer Centers that require seamless integration of techniques to pursue studies of tumorgenesis.


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

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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.


  • Gilles SR, Yohe SL, Linden MA, Dolan M, Hirsch B, Grzywacz B. CD161 Is expressed in a subset of T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia cases and Is useful for disease follow-up.Am J Clin Pathol. 2019 Sep 9;152(4):471-478. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqz060.
  • Baughn LB; Meredith MM; Oseth L; Smolarek TA, Hirsch BSH2B3 aberrations enriched in iAMP21 B lymphoblastic leukemia.  Cancer Genetics. 226-227:30-35, 2018 Oct
  • 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