Komen Announces Nearly $33 Million in New Research Funding

Susan G. Komen Announces Nearly $33 Million in New Research Funding to Support Bold Goal of Cutting Breast Cancer Mortality by 50 Percent

Texas Researchers Receive More Than $3.5 Million in Research Funding

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 $32.7 million in new research grants for 2016. Awarded across 23 states and 7 countries, the 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.

The grants include more than $3.5 million in new funding for research at four institutions in Texas, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Texas to  $105,653,905 since 1982.

“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 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.”

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.

Komen’s Investments in Texas

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which direct 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.

Since 1991, Komen North Texas has funded $13.3 million to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $2.85 million to Komen research.

In Texas, researchers will receive more than $3.5 million, including:

Baylor College of Medicine

  • Xi Chen, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to determine if a new drug called RE001 could help treat triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). RE001 blocks production of XBP1, a protein known to promote TNBC. This research will help determine whether XBP1 is a viable target for TNBC and if RE001 can eventually be moved into clinical trials for patients.
  • Shyam Kavuri, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to determine how treatment resistance occurs in HER2+ breast cancer. The goal is to identify new drug targets so that HER2+ breast cancer patients will have a lasting response to treatment, and better outcomes.

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

  • Abena Redwood, Ph.D., will receive nearly $180,000 to determine how specific mutations in the p53 gene affect the response to a new drug that is being developed for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). This could lead to the development of a test that will identify TNBC patients who will (or won’t) respond to this new drug.
  • Bisrat Debeb, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to investigate how a protein called E-cadherin promotes the spread of breast cancer to the brain. He will also test combinations of drugs to try to identify the best treatments for preventing and treating breast cancer metastasis to the brain.
  • Komen Scientific Advisory Board Member Powel Brown, M.D., Ph.D. will receive $200,000 to study a protein that is often expressed in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) and test drugs that target this protein to see if they are effective against TNBC.
  • Komen Scholar Abenaa Brewster, M.D., will receive $600,000 to compare tumor and blood markers from triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) that are discovered in the interval between screening mammograms to markers from TNBC discovered through screening mammography to determine whether these types of breast cancer are different. The goal is to create a blood test for early detection of TNBC that may also predict recurrence and identify which patients need more-aggressive therapy and those that can be spared from overtreatment.
  • Komen Scholar Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., will receive $600,000 to continue his research identifying and characterizing mechanisms of drug resistance and developing ways to eliminate this resistance. Through this grant, Dr. Mills will study HER2-positive breast cancers to identify the pathways that contribute to resistance to a class of drugs called EGFR inhibitors. He will also study the pathways that lead to resistance to PARP inhibitors in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). He will also explore combination therapies to block this resistance.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

  • Komen Scientific Advisory Board Member Amelie Ramirez, Dr.PH., will receive $200,000 to develop and pilot-test a bilingual, culturally tailored, personalized, interactive mobile application in combination with patient navigation to promote and improve adherence to endocrine hormonal therapy among breast cancer patients. If successful, this intervention could reduce recurrence of ER-positive breast cancer.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

  • Weibo Luo, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to investigate the role of a protein called ZMYND8 in the growth of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. This protein seems to contribute to the ability of breast cancer cells to spread and may be a target for drugs that could prevent metastasis in patients with ER-positive breast cancer.

Texas also has 34 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years, including grants to Komen Scholars Melissa Bondy, Ph.D., Matthew Ellis, M.B, B. Chir, Ph.D, Sharon Giordano, M.D., MPH, and Jeffrey Rosen, Ph.D.

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.

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization outside of the federal government, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $920 million in research and provided more than $2 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs. Komen has worked in more than 60 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit komen.org or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at ww5.komen.org/social

*Contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen