Grants in 25 States and Eight Countries Sustain Komen Leadership in Breast Cancer Research

New York State Researchers Receive $810,000 

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 eight countries internationally, with about half of the grants targeted to early-career researchers squeezed by stagnation in federal research dollars.

The grants include $810,000 in new funding for research at three institutions in New York, bringing Komen’s total research investment in New York to $44,670,000 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 New York State

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide network of Affiliates 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 New York, researchers will receive more than $800,000 to study breast cancer progression.

  • Richard Possemato, Ph.D., of New York University School of Medicine will receive $450,000 to evaluate the impact of using targeted therapies to inhibit the gene PHGDH, which in a previous Komen-funded study was shown to be highly elevated in ER-negative breast cancer, and vital for tumor growth. The PHGDH gene role in ER-negative tumors was discovered during his Komen-funded postdoctoral fellowship. Now, as an independent investigator, Dr. Possemato will continue studying the PHGDH gene, and its biological significance as a novel target for therapies to treat breast cancer.
  • Ayuko Nitadori, Ph.D., of the Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell Universitywill receive $180,000 to investigate the role of exosomes (tumor-derived microvesicles) in breast cancer progression. Dr. Nitadori will seek to understand which molecules are specifically responsible for spreading to individual organ sites.
  • Gayatri Arun, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will receive $180,000 to evaluate how the loss of a regulatory RNA, Malat1, impacts a breast tumor’s ability to metastasize.

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.