California Researchers Will Receive $2.87 million in New Research Funding

Following through on a commitment to young scientists and clinicians, the Susan G. Komen® organization today announced new grants to more than 50 early-career breast cancer researchers — almost half of Komen’s $34.7 million investment in new breast cancer research funding for 2014.

The grants include $2.87 million in new funding for research at seven institutions in California, bringing Komen’s total research investment in researcherHomeImage-628x323California to $68.5 million since 1982.

“Our 2014 grants are intended to ensure continuity in breast cancer research for years to come,” said Komen President and CEO Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S. “With federal research dollars tightening, we’re deeply concerned that a generation of promising breast cancer researchers will be lost to other fields.

“While we fund young researchers, we’re also continuing to grant to established researchers whose work has led to significant progress against this disease,” she said.

Komen is funding nearly $16 million in new grants to early-career researchers – those who are still in training and those at the earliest stages of their research careers. The remaining funds are being granted to leading breast cancer scientists who have already made significant contributions to the field, and to support scientific programs and partnerships that advance Komen’s mission to end breast cancer forever.

Komen is the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research, with more than $847 million invested since its founding in 1982. But research is just one aspect of Komen’s mission: since 1982, Komen and its Affiliates have invested more than $1.8 billion in community health outreach and global programs that last year served more than half a million women and men facing breast cancer. More than 80 cents of every dollar Komen spends is devoted to mission programs.

Komen’s Investments in California

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from local Komen Affiliates across the country, which annually contribute 25 percent of net funds raised in their local community to Komen’s research program, with the remaining 75 percent staying in the community to fund community outreach programs.

In California, researchers will receive $2.87 million to investigate breast cancer metastasis, treatment and biology.

In Southern California:

  • Matthew Pratt, Ph.D., of University of Southern California will receive $450,000 to investigate how a chemical modification that occurs on proteins, known as O-GlcNAcylation, promotes the growth of breast tumors. Inhibiting the modification of proteins through O-GlcNAcylation could provide a novel avenue for breast cancer drug development.
  • $200,000 in continued funding to Komen Scholar Patricia Ganz, M.D., of University of California, Los Angeles, will be working together with the Los Angeles Komen Affiliate to address the psychosocial needs of women living with metastatic breast cancer by developing a mindfulness program to improve their quality of life. Improving the quality of life could contribute towards reducing mortality among metastatic breast cancer patients.
  • $200,000 in continued funding to Komen Scholar Geoffrey Wahl, Ph.D., of the Salk Institute, will expand upon previous work which found that the molecular characteristics of early mammary stem cells resemble those seen in triple negative breast cancers (TNBC). If the similarities that cause both normal mammary stem cells and TNBC to grow and survive are confirmed, these findings will be used to find better treatments for TNBC.
  • $180,000 in funding to Krishna Midde, Ph.D., of University of California, San Diego, to study the GIV protein which is thought to be a key protein within breast cancer cells that controls cell movement and ability to metastasize to other organ sites.   A reengineered version of the GIV protein will be used to map the different pathways and cellular functions that are controlled by GIV.

In the San Francisco Area:

  • $450,000 in funding to Natalia Jura, Ph.D., of University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to study and characterize the HER3 protein, a closely related protein to HER2, to determine how HER3 drives the growth of different types of breast cancers and its role in the development of drug resistance.
  • $405,000 in funding to Joan Bloom, Ph.D., of University of California, Berkley, to create a multidisciplinary breast cancer disparities research program focused on closing the gap in breast cancer outcomes in higher risk and underserved populations. The training program will provide internships with distinguished researchers and research opportunities to improve the continuum of breast cancer care for underserved populations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • $180,000 in funding to Jessica Bockhorn, Ph.D., of Stanford University to examine whether the protein ILF2 (interleukin enhancer binding protein 2) could be a specific clinical biomarker for basal-like breast cancer and whether inhibiting ILF2 would be effective in treating this type of breast cancer.
  • $180,000 in funding to Sean Hudson, Ph.D., of UCSF to use a novel method to find new proteins that interact and partner with the BRCA1 protein. Finding new proteins that interact with BRCA1 will provide a better understanding of the role of BRCA1 in maintaining genome stability and its role in suppressing breast tumors.
  • Komen Chief Scientific Advisor George Sledge, M.D. of Stanford University, will receive $225,000 in funding to explore two novel technologies that will noninvasively measure circulating tumor cells (CTCs) with greater precision and use CTCs to more rapidly measure the effect of new targeted therapies being tested on breast cancer cells. Characterization of CTCs using these technologies will provide a new source of information on breast tumors that will be valuable both in the research lab and in the clinic.
  • $200,000 in continued funding to Komen Scholar Nola Hylton, Ph.D., of UCSF will work to improve breast images taken with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to not only find breast tumors, but use MRI to further characterize the breast tissue surrounding the tumor. This approach will lead to the development of a better non-invasive method for the diagnosis of and assessment of risk for breast cancer.
  • $200,000 in continued funding to Komen Scholar Rena Pasick, Dr. P.H., of UCSF will test and evaluate the most effective ways to educate African American women and their families in the San Francisco area about hereditary breast cancer by implementing church-based education workshops to raise awareness among participants about breast cancer risk, identify women at high risk of developing breast cancer, and connect high-risk women with services in their area. The successful outcome of this study can lead to large-scale educational programs in communities across the country that will help women at very high risk of developing breast cancer.

A full list of Komen’s 2014 research grants can be found here.*

A list of community health programs funded by the Susan G. Komen San Diego can be found http://komensandiego.org/services/community-grants/

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