Susan G. Komen® Awards $800,000 in Funding to Seattle-Based Breast Cancer Researchers

Building on its bold goal to reduce current breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. over the next decade, Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced a total of $32.7 million in new research grants for 2016. The grants include $800,000 in new funding for research at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Washington state to $11,480,427 since 1982.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

  • Candice Grzelak, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to understand why breast cancer has a tendency to spread to the liver, why breast cancer cells in the liver stay quiet for long periods of time, and what triggers them to awaken and grow once again. Understanding this process will allow the design of new therapeutic approaches for metastatic breast cancer.
  • Komen Scholar Benjamin Anderson, M.D., will receive $200,000 to assess breast health care needs in low- and middle-income countries. This work will identify unmet needs and provide partner countries and organizations with information and the tools needed to implement resource-appropriate interventions and improve breast care and outcomes for women in their countries.

The University of Washington

  • Komen Scholar Mary L. “Nora” Disis, M.D., will receive $400,000 to develop a vaccine to block inflammation in obese, fatty tissue with the goal of reducing the incidence of breast cancer in obese women.
  • Komen Scholar Julie Gralow, M.D., will receive $20,000 to bring together medical experts, researchers, patients, policymakers and other key stakeholders to discuss opportunities for increasing inclusion of breast cancer patients with bone-only metastasis in clinical trials. Bone metastasis patients are currently under-represented in clinical trials. The meeting will provide an open forum to discuss current knowledge and challenges associated with metastatic breast cancer in the bone, and come to consensus around solutions and opportunities moving forward.

Washington state also has seven ongoing grants, awarded in previous years, that include funding to Komen Scholars Julie Gralow, M.D. and Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

“For nearly 35 years our organization has been a leader in the fight to end breast cancer, changing how people think about, talk about and treat this disease. Now, with a sharpened focus on our organization’s new strategic direction, we are delighted to announce new research funding that will play a significant role in making our bold goal a reality,” said Komen President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno, M.D., M.S.

“Not only will these grants accelerate our understanding of key areas in breast cancer research, but they include funding for early-career investigators. As federal research dollars become increasingly difficult to secure, these awards give promising young researchers an opportunity to establish their careers, and help ensure breakthrough breast cancer research continues for years to come,” Dr. Salerno added. “Their work is essential to achieving our vision of a world without breast cancer.”

Awarded across 23 states and 7 countries, the research projects span the entire continuum of breast cancer research, including research into metastatic disease, novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer, new technologies and health equity – areas that will make a significant impact in achieving the 50 percent goal.

Grants from Komen’s nearly $33 million 2016 research portfolio* – including more than $16 million to early-career investigators – will focus on promising areas in research that have the greatest potential to save lives, including:

  • 38 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to stop it.
  • 15 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, Luminal B and inflammatory breast cancer).
  • 21 grants advancing our ability to detect primary and recurrent breast cancer at its earliest stages.
  • 12 grants identifying the causes of breast cancer disparities and testing ways to overcome barriers to care.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment to more than $920 million since opening its doors in 1982, the largest of any nonprofit outside the U.S. government. In addition to research, Komen and its nationwide network of affiliates serve women and men in thousands of communities. To date, more than $2 billion has been invested in community programs that provide education, screening and treatment support.

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide network of affiliates, which directs 25 percent of funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while investing the remaining 75 percent into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors who fight alongside us, offering hope to people living with breast cancer and helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in our state,” said Komen Puget Sound Executive Director David Richart.