Johns Hopkins and Mercy Medical Center to Study Treatment Complications for Some African American Women, and Approaches to Aggressive Cancers
BALTIMORE – November 16, 2011 – Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, is funding almost $2 million in research in Maryland to better understand why some African American breast cancer patients develop heart problems, and to help develop more personalized treatment strategies for women with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
The grants to Johns Hopkins University and Mercy Medical Center are among four that Komen for the Cure is funding in Maryland this year, and part of Komen’s $66 million investment in new research, patient support and scientific conferences in 2011. Komen has spent more than $685 million for breast cancer research in its 29 years, making it the largest non-profit funder of breast cancer research outside of the federal government.
“Our research investments are geared to bringing results to the table – and soon – for the most difficult questions remaining in breast cancer,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Komen for the Cure.
At Mercy Medical Center, almost $450,000 is being granted to a team led by Lisa Gallicchio, Ph.D., to study why African American breast cancer patients may be more likely to develop heart problems after being treated with a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. Also at Mercy, Kathy Helzlsouer M.D., will receive almost $600,000 to develop a web-based program to remind breast cancer patients about upcoming treatments and to better manage their symptoms.
At Johns Hopkins, Christopher Umbricht, M.D., Ph.D., will use a $600,000 Komen grant to find better ways to identify patients who are most likely to respond to chemotherapy as they fight triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease. Another $180,000 grant to Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., and Daniele Gilkes, Ph.D., will be used to study whether dense breast tissue is a cause or a consequence of breast cancer, and whether and how breast density contributes to cancer’s spread.
“These grants may help us find better treatments, while also ensuring that breast cancer patients are meaningfully followed during their treatment,” said Komen President Elizabeth Thompson. “They tie squarely to our mission to fund cutting-edge breast cancer research along the entire cancer continuum – from prevention to early diagnostics, disparities in outcomes, more effective treatments, and answers for aggressive and metastatic disease.
The national grants announced today augment local funding of $2.5 million from Komen’s Maryland Affiliate in 2011. Seventy-five percent of funds raised by Komen Affiliates stay in the community for screening, treatment, education and support programs; the rest helps fund national research programs.
“The projects we’re investing in today are critical to the momentum we’ve built during the last 30 years in our quest to understand, and ultimately solve, the many questions surrounding breast cancer,” said Eric Winer, M.D., Komen’s chief scientific advisor, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard University.