Komen for the Cure’s Chandini Portteus also Testifies that Komen is Focusing Research Funding to Address the Most Critical Questions in Breast Cancer, Efforts to Translate Discoveries to Patients; a Call for Increased Partnerships
ATLANTA – February 1, 2011 – Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, today encouraged the President’s Cancer Panel to use its leadership position to expand partnerships that work toward greater collaboration, and asked for increased scientific focus on the critical unanswered questions in cancer.
Chandini Portteus, Komen for the Cure’s vice president of research, evaluation and scientific programs, also testified that Komen is concentrating its research funding across many areas, with a focus on prevention and early detection; novel and personalized treatments for aggressive and metastatic cancers, and disparities in breast cancer incidence and mortality.
Portteus highlighted Komen’s multi-million dollar Promise Grants, which stress collaboration and partnerships within and between research institutions. Komen currently funds 14 Promise Grants investigating prevention strategies, biomarkers, disparities and treatments for metastatic and aggressive cancers.
She urged the same partnership approach across the research spectrum, saying that it is imperative that cancer groups and researchers collaborate as much as possible to uncover solutions to the most vexing issues surrounding cancer.
“Cancer is a complex problem, and while we have come far in some areas, there is so much more to do,” Portteus said. “We cannot do this alone. It takes the work of many to come together and address these problems creatively, especially as we learn more about the genetic basis of cancer, the role of bioinformatics in cancer screening, prevention and care. Sharing information about such needs and the obstacles still to overcome can be a catalyst for progress.”
She pointed to Komen’s partnerships with such groups as the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center, the Institute of Medicine and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), as examples of current Komen collaborations.
Looking ahead, Portteus said much needs to be learned about disparities in breast cancer care and mortality, that is, why breast cancer incidence and mortality rates differ between certain groups. This includes an examination of what barriers exist to care, and, as more information becomes available about cancer, how to use what’s been learned to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies.
The President's Cancer Panel reports to the president on the progress and execution of the National Cancer Program. The panel meets at least four times each year.
Komen is the largest non-profit funder of breast cancer research outside of the U.S. government, investing more than $610 million to breast cancer research since the organization was founded in 1982. Today, the organization’s research program is overseen by a Scientific Advisory Board and a 60-plus member Scientific Advisory Council comprised of leading researchers, practitioners and advocates.
Portteus said that Komen’s research program has touched every major development in breast cancer research, helping scientists understand the nature of breast cancer and discover more personalized therapies. The results have been encouraging: there is today a 98 percent five-year survival rate for early-stage cancers, compared with 74 percent when the organization was founded. Overall breast cancer mortality rates have dropped by 31 percent since the early 1990s in the U.S.
“We have many more answers to reach in terms of prevention, potential vaccines, how breast cancers spread and how to reduce breast cancer deaths from the most lethal forms of the disease,” Portteus said. “Our focus at Komen will be to address these complex issues with an eye toward safe and reliable therapies, and quickly.”