University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCSF Researchers Awarded Breast Cancer Research Funding from Susan G. Komen

September 28, 2015

UCSF Researchers Awarded Breast Cancer Research Funding from Susan G. Komen

Three UCSF researchers were awarded grants from Susan G. Komen to support projects in breast cancer research. These grants are among those made to 124 researchers in 25 states and 15 countries, with about half of the grants targeted to early-career researchers.

Nola Hylton, PhD will receive $200,000 to develop high-resolution, non-contrast enhanced MRI methods for characterizing breast tissue, and to use these methods in conjunction with standard MRI to improve methods for both breast cancer diagnosis and risk assessment.

Julia Rohrberg, PhD will receive $180,000 to study how the depletion of the protein TPX2 can cause triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells to die, with the goal of identifying a novel targeted therapy for TNBC.

Efrat Harel, PhD will receive $180,000 to investigate the potential of using antibodies (proteins in the immune system) to recognize cellular markers that are expressed at higher levels in metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), thus helping physicians monitor a patient’s disease and select the best treatment.

View the full press release below.


DALLAS – Sept. 22, 2015 – Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research, announced new grants to 124 researchers in 25 states and 15 countries, with about half of the grants targeted to early-career researchers squeezed by stagnation in federal research dollars.

The grants include $3,949,347 in new funding for research at seven institutions in California, bringing Komen’s total research investment in California to $72,419,347 since 1982.

The 2015 research grants expand Komen’s ongoing commitment to funding early-career scientists, that is, recent graduates and those trying to establish independent research careers. This group has been especially hard hit by real-dollar declines of as much as 25 percent in federal research funding over the past decade.

“We committed two years ago to do all that we can to ensure that talented early-career investigators remain in the breast cancer research field, while continuing our support for established researchers,” said Komen President and CEO Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S. “We cannot afford to lose talented scientists to other fields for lack of funding.”

This year’s research slate brings Komen’s total research investment to more than $889 million since 1982, the largest of any nonprofit, and second only to the U.S. government.

Grants from Komen’s nearly $36 million research portfolio – including more than $17.6 million in grants awarded to early-career investigators – span the entire cancer continuum from prevention to treatments for aggressive and metastatic disease. These include:

  • 36 grants to improve understanding of metastatic breast cancer
  • 18 grants investigating how tumors develop drug resistance
  • 19 grants related to the study of triple negative breast cancer – one of the most aggressive forms of the disease
  • 15 grants working to identify and understand biological and socio-economic health inequities
  • 13 grants seeking to develop new and novel therapies

Komen’s Investments in California

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide network of Affiliates, which direct 25 percent of locally raised funds to Komen’s national research program. The remaining 75 percent of net funds are invested into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

In California, researchers will receive nearly $3.9 million to investigate breast cancer metastasis, triple negative disease and more.

In the Los Angeles area:

  • Josh Neman, Ph.D., of USC will receive $450,000 to investigate how HER2-positive breast cancer cells communicate with brain cells in order to make the brain a favorable site of metastases which have the potential to become resistant to standard therapies.
  • Eunjung Lee, Ph.D., of USC will receive nearly $450,000 to investigate the impact of nail salon work (including constant exposure to toxic fumes and chemicals from nail care products) on breast cancer risk in Vietnamese American women.
  • Komen Scholar Patricia Ganz, M.D., of University of California, Los Angeles, will receive $400,000 to address the psychosocial needs of women living with metastatic breast cancer by developing a mindfulness intervention and education program to improve their quality of life, in collaboration with the Komen Los Angeles County. Improving the quality of life could contribute towards reducing mortality among metastatic breast cancer patients.

In the San Diego area:

  • Jay Desgrosellier, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), will receive $450,000 to investigate methods of eradicating “stem-like” breast cancer cells which have been implicated in tumor recurrence after treatment or surgery which can progress to form distant, often fatal, metastases.
  • Komen Scholar Geoffrey Wahl, Ph.D., of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies will receive $400,000 to study mammary stem cells in order to find therapies that are effective in eradicating triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumors and to identify better ways of evaluating the diversity of cancer cells, potentially leading to better prognostic and treatment strategies.
  • Jia Shen, Ph.D., of UCSD will receive $180,000 to investigate the estrogen receptor ‘a’ (Era) genetic network in order to guide the development of biomarkers with enhanced specificity to predict therapeutic response to endocrine therapies and identify new targets for treatment-resistant disease.

In the San Francisco area:

  • Komen Scholar Melinda Telli, M.D., of Stanford University will receive $600,000 to conduct a phase II clinical trial which will investigate the use of platinum chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in patients who carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
  • Komen Chief Scientific Advisor George Sledge, Jr., M.D., of Stanford University will receive $225,000 to evaluate two novel technologies which evaluate circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in patients with advanced breast cancer. The first has the potential to measure noninvasively with great precision; the second has the potential to be used to measure the effects of targeted therapies.
  • Komen Scholar Nola Hylton, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will receive $200,000 to develop high-resolution, non-contrast enhanced MRI methods for characterizing breast tissue, and to use these methods in conjunction with standard MRI to improve methods for both breast cancer diagnosis and risk assessment.
  • Anosheh Afghahi, M.D., of Stanford University will receive $180,000 to determine if an oral PARP inhibitor can shrink tumors in patients with advanced breast cancer who carry faulty DNA repair mechanisms that can be attributed to a triple negative breast cancer or a gene mutation.
  • Julia Rohrberg, Ph.D., of UCSF will receive $180,000 to study how the depletion of the protein TPX2 can cause triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells to die, with the goal of identifying a novel targeted therapy for TNBC.
  • Efrat Harel, Ph.D., of UCSF will receive $180,000 to investigate the potential of using antibodies (proteins in the immune system) to recognize cellular markers that are expressed at higher levels in metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), thus helping physicians monitor a patient’s disease and select the best treatment.

A full list of Komen’s 2015 research grants can be found here.*

In addition to funding breast cancer research, Komen has invested more than $1.95 billion into community health outreach and global programs that serve hundreds of thousands of women and men annually through breast cancer health and support programs that screen, educate and provide financial, medical and psychosocial assistance.

For more information about Komen’s mission investment, please visit komen.org.

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, 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 $889 million in research and provided $1.95 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 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