Susan G. Komen Announces $26 Million Investment in New Research to Find Solutions for Aggressive and Metastatic Breast Cancers, and to Help Communities Most at Risk

Susan G. Komen Announces $26 Million Investment in New Research to Find Solutions for Aggressive and Metastatic Breast Cancers, and to Help Communities Most at Risk

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced an additional investment of nearly $26 million to fund 62 new research projects that seek to answer some of the toughest questions facing breast cancer. This new funding is part of the organization’s efforts to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026 and brings its total research investment to $988 million to date – the largest nonprofit investment outside the U.S. government.

The grants include $1,250,000 in new funding for research at two institutions in Washington, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Washington to $12,860,950 since 1982.

“This year, Komen is investing in a number of areas that will help us achieve our bold goal and save lives. We are seeking answers to why our current drugs work for some patients, but not all, or why they work at first, but later become ineffective.” said Komen Chief Scientific Advisor, George Sledge, M.D., Chief of Oncology at Stanford University Department of Medicine. “We are also looking into aggressive forms of the disease like triple negative and inflammatory breast cancer, which tend to have poorer outcomes. By investigating novel techniques and therapies, we hope to bring new treatment options to patients.”

The newly announced grants will investigate critical areas in breast cancer research, including (but not limited to) projects focused on one or more of the following:

  • Drug Resistance and Metastasis (40 grants, representing 70 percent of the grants awarded)
  • Triple Negative Breast Cancer (23 grants)
  • New Treatments (38 grants) such as Immunotherapies (9 grants)
  • Health Disparities (8 grants)

This year, Komen’s competitive grant program for young investigators was entirely focused on drug resistance and metastatic disease. “Komen continues its long-standing investment in the next generation of scientists, to ensure that brilliant researchers whose careers are just beginning have funding to pursue their novel ideas,” said Komen Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research and Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “We are proud that this investment includes opportunities for 23 innovative and inspired researchers to lead the way in making breast cancer discoveries that will improve care for all and help save lives.”

“More than 41,000 women and men will lose their lives to breast cancer this year alone. I lost my mother to the disease a few years back, and I myself have been treated for aggressive triple negative breast cancer. The idea that it could impact my daughters is unacceptable,” said Komen President and CEO Paula Schneider. “We all have a personal reason or passion that we support the fight against breast cancer, and we’re proud to invite people to support the work that means the most to them. It will take all of us working together to save lives and ultimately end this disease.”

Komen’s Investments in Washington

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which directs a portion of funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while also investing in vital community programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

Since 1994, Komen Puget Sound has funded more than $30 million to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing nearly $10 million to Komen research.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Washington, both on the ground and through research,” said Komen Puget Sound Executive Director David Richart.

In Washington, Komen is granting to the following researchers:

  • Kevin Cheung, M.D., from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will receive $450,000 to determine if metastatic breast cancer (MBC) can be treated or prevented by blocking tumor cell clustering. Patients who have clusters of tumor cells, instead of single tumor cells, circulating in their blood are more likely to die of MBC. The goal of this study it to understand how tumor cells clusters form, and to determine if blocking tumor cell clustering could improve patient survival.
  • Komen Scholar Mary L. “Nora” Disis, M.D., from the University of Washington, will receive $600,000 to continue 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 Mary-Claire King, Ph.D., from University of Washington, will receive $200,000 to continue to screen for genetic mutations in families severely affected by breast cancer, potentially identifying novel mutations and mechanisms for inherited breast cancer.

Research has been a cornerstone of Komen’s work since opening its doors in 1982. Komen also works to inspire action through advocacy and public policy, to mobilize communities through support services and opportunities to make a local impact, and provide the care that patients need (including screening, diagnostics, treatment and navigation).