Susan G. Komen Awards OSU Researcher Funding

(DALLAS)Susan G. Komen® today announced $4.5 million in research funding to more fully understand the role that environmental issues play in breast cancer development. The grants will be part of Komen’s $42 million 2013 research portfolio, which includes more than $1.6 million in new funding to researchers at three Ohio institutions – including one at The Ohio State University.

The new environmental grants will build on research that Komen has already funded to more fully understand the role of toxins and other environmental factors that may contribute to breast cancer.

Komen Chief Mission Officer Chandini Portteus said that the environmental grants are just one element in Komen’s more than $790 million research program – the largest breast cancer research investment of any nonprofit outside of the U.S. government.

“These environmental studies will add to our understanding of how breast cancer develops,” Portteus said. “At the same time, Komen will continue to fund research along the entire cancer spectrum – from prevention, to better screening, more personalized treatments for metastatic disease, and ending disparities in outcomes for women of color and those without adequate access to healthcare,” Portteus said.

Komen’s Ohio Commitment
Katie Carter, executive director at Komen Columbus said that since 1982, Komen has invested more than $9 million in research funding to Ohio institutions. Susan G. Komen Affiliates in Ohio have also funded more than $42.5 million to community health programs that provide screenings, education, financial aid and social and emotional support to women and families throughout the state – more than $14 million by the Columbus Affiliate alone.

“Komen is the only breast cancer organization attacking the disease on all fronts: research, community outreach, education, advocacy and global work,” said Carter. “Up to 75 percent of money raised at Komen Columbus funds vital breast health education, screening and treatment programs in our 30-county service in central and southeastern Ohio. The other 25 percent supports groundbreaking breast cancer research.”

A list of public health programs funded by the Affiliate can be found here.

The 2013 Ohio research grants will focus on immunotherapy and novel therapeutics. The grants include:

  • A $225,000 grant to Komen Scholar Julia White, M.D., at Ohio State University to develop and test safer and more accurate radiation therapy approaches for early-stage breast cancer patients. Current radiation therapy exposes the whole breast and chest area to dangerous radiation, while other approaches, such as partial breast irradiation, are currently used post-lumpectomy, when surrounding tissue may not be as receptive to treatment. Dr. White will explore a novel method of pre-operative, MRI-guided partial breast irradiation.
  • A $450,000 grant to Kakajan Komurov, Ph.D., at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to investigate how breast cancers develop resistance to the successful ERBB2/HER2 drug, lapatinib. Using an experimental system to identify the molecular mechanisms involved in tumor resistance, Dr. Komurov and team will be able to target these pathways, resulting in novel treatment strategies for therapy-resistant ERBB2/HER2+ breast cancers.
  • Nearly $1,000,000 in funding for Joseph Baar, Ph.D., at Case Western Reserve to develop improved treatments for metastatic breast cancer, including a cancer vaccine. The vaccine will strengthen the body’s T-cells and target the blood vessels supporting the survival of the tumor in order to kill the tumor by cutting off its blood supply. By targeting tumor blood vessels instead of a specific tumor type, this vaccine has potential for use in all metastatic breast cancer patients.

Environmental Grants Topics
The five environmental grants for 2013 include separate studies on the impact of radiation exposure on breast cancer development during screening and treatment; pollutants in areas where cancer rates are disproportionately high; the impact of air pollution on breast cancer development, and the role of synthetic chemicals called phthalates.

These  include grants to Brigham and Women’s Medical Center in Boston; Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Emory University in Atlanta; and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. More details on these grants can be found at this link

“In each of these grants, we are attempting to move beyond theories to establish a solid base of scientific evidence on the role of environmental exposures to breast cancer development,” said Portteus.

Komen has already invested nearly $14 million into 38 research grants studying environmental and lifestyle factors that may affect breast cancer risk such as chemical substances, diet, weight, exercise and alcohol use.

“Our research and community health outreach would not be possible without the generosity of our partners and donors in communities, and we are so grateful for those who understand and support this vital work for all people facing breast cancer,” Portteus said.

A complete list and description of Komen’s 2013 grants, including the new peer-reviewed Ohio grants, is available here.