Committed to caring for those coping with breast cancer while trying to rid future generations of the disease, Susan G. Komen for the Cure(R), the world’s leading breast cancer organization, announced $60 million in research grants to U.S. and international scientists.
This year’s allocation includes $25.7 million earmarked for Komen for the Cure’s unique Promise Grants – grants to investigators from various disciplines and sometimes different institutions, working as one team to solve difficult challenges in breast cancer.
Komen is set to fund four Promise Grants in 2009, and for the first time, Komen will receive co-funding from another breast cancer organization – the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation – to explore an aggressive form of breast cancer known as triple negative breast cancer.
In its 27 years, Komen for the Cure has invested more than $400 million in life-saving research that has touched every major advance in breast cancer treatment and care. This year’s grants slate is set to support scientists at 54 universities and hospitals in 26 states and one foreign country.
“Cancer research has been the cornerstone of our organization since our very first year, and despite the downturn in the economy, our pledge to fund quality research remains unabated. Breast cancer doesn’t care about the economy, and with more than 1.3 million new cases of breast cancer expected this year, the need for new and continuing cancer research is more urgent than ever,” said Hala Moddelmog, Komen’s CEO and president.
This year, Komen is funding Promise Grants at:
— University of Alabama at Birmingham. This $6.4 million Komen Promise Grant co-funded by the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation (TNBCF) will investigate ways to add a new drug, along with chemotherapy, to fight triple negative breast cancer. Scientists will also look for ways to predict which therapies will prove most effective for triple negative breast cancer patients. This is the first time a nonprofit organization has pledged funding to a Promise Grant, the result of a partnership between TNBCF and Komen to explore treatments for this aggressive form of breast cancer.
— Indiana University, Indianapolis. This $5.8 million Promise Grant will aim to establish biomarkers that doctors can use to better predict which breast cancer patients will benefit from the drug Avastin, and which cancer patients will suffer significant side effects from its use.
— M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and Duke University, Durham, N.C. This $6.8 million Promise Grant will be shared between the two institutions to study early detection and prevention strategies for an aggressive form of breast cancer known as estrogen receptor-negative.
— Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. This $6.7 million Promise Grant focuses on identifying biomarkers to predict treatment response and to match patients to the treatment best for them.
“Komen’s infusion of millions of dollars into research projects means that promising research designed to treat and ultimately eradicate breast cancer will continue,” said Eric Winer, M.D., Komen’s chief scientific advisor, director of the Breast Oncology Center and the Thompson Senior Investigator in Breast Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of Medicine at Harvard University.
Komen began funding research its very first year, with a research grant in 1982 for $28,000. Thanks to the organization’s signature Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure(R) Series, with 1.5 million runners and walkers participating annually worldwide and more than 250 corporate partners, the Komen research commitment has steadily grown.
In the last three years alone, Komen has invested nearly $237 million in breast cancer research.
Komen for the Cure established Promise Grants in 2008, at the same time launching a focus on research that has the best chance of delivering cures over the next decade.
The wide spectrum of research to be funded this year by Komen includes the following:
— Investigations into treatment and outcome disparities (racial, ethnic) among groups of women
— Improved diagnostics and screening (biomarkers, new imaging techniques)
— New targeted therapy and methods of delivery (nanotechnology)
— Better understanding of breast cancer types (triple negative breast cancer)
— Drug resistance and metastasis
Specific projects in the grants slate address the following:
— Breast cancer in African-American women
— Establishing mammography guidelines for women 70 and older
— How vitamin D may protect against breast cancer
— Evaluation of low-dose molecular breast imaging as a screening tool
— Early detection and prevention strategies for triple negative breast cancer
— Combination therapies to enhance treatment effectiveness
Grants awarded by Komen for the Cure undergo a rigorous peer-review process by groups of laboratory scientists, clinicians and advocates. These grants fall into the following categories:
— Promise Grants: Large-scale grants up to $7.5 million each during a five-year period, targeted to research that brings science to the bedside more quickly than ever before.
— Post-Doctoral Research: Grants of $60,000 per year for two or three years to attract and retain promising young researchers nationwide and internationally.
— Career Catalyst Research: Grants of $150,000 per year for two to three years to fill a critical gap in support and stimulate the transition from training to independence among promising cancer investigators.
— Career Catalyst in Disparities Research: Grants up to $450,000 over three years to foster independent careers in disparities research and support programs of research into disparities in breast cancer.
— Investigator Initiated Research: Grants up to $200,000 per year for two to three years to explore new ideas and approaches leading to reductions in breast cancer mortality and/or incidence within the decade.
— Post Baccalaureate in Disparities Research: Grants up to $135,000 per student over three years to support training for students very early in their career to allow them to begin to define meaningful career paths focused on disparities in breast cancer.
About Susan G. Komen for the Cure(R)
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which is now the world’s largest breast cancer organization and the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer with more than $1.3 billion invested to date