NEWS RELEASE_Susan G. Komen Unveils $26M Investment in Research Focused on Metastatic Breast Cancer and New Treatments

NEW YORK Researchers Receive $1,450,000 in Research Funding

DALLAS – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2019 – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced $26 million in funding for new research projects that focus on metastatic breast cancer, developing new, more-effective treatments, and addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes. This year’s grant slate focuses on key areas that will help the organization achieve its Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.

“In order to save more lives, we must address the main cause of breast cancer deaths: metastatic breast cancer,” said George Sledge, Susan G. Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

“We are pleased to support research aimed at preventing breast cancers from metastasizing (spreading) and developing new, more effective treatments for metastatic disease,” added Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology, at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

More than an estimated 154,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer – the most advanced stage of breast cancer that has spread outside the breast, often to the brain, bones, liver and lungs. Currently, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, and it is responsible for almost all the 42,000 breast cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

Among the 60 grants Komen awarded, 38 are focused on better understanding and treating metastatic breast cancer. Grants were also given to researchers who are developing new therapies for breast cancer including aggressive subtypes such as triple negative breast cancer, investigating drug resistance, and addressing health disparities in breast cancer outcomes among specific communities.

“Breast cancer does not affect everyone equally and with the grants we’re funding this year, we’re moving closer to new therapies for aggressive forms of cancer, understanding why treatment doesn’t work in some patients and making sure everyone has access to the care they need,” said Paula Schneider, CEO, Susan G. Komen.

Komen’s 2019 portfolio includes*:

  • 60 grants totaling $25,689,384. Of these:
    • 38 grants totaling $17,504,384 are focused on better understanding metastasis – why it occurs and how to prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer
    • 39 grants totaling $15,579,815 for catalyzing the development of new therapies for all stages of breast cancer
    • 16 grants looking into novel treatments for triple negative breast cancer
    • 14 grants totaling $6,298,750 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
    • 9 grants focused on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and
    • 5 that apply big data technology (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) to breast cancer research

*Eds Note: Numbers add to more than 60 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $1 billion since opening its doors in 1982, and Komen’s investment in research focused on metastatic breast cancer to $210 million. Since our inception, we have funded more breast cancer research than any other non-profit outside of the U.S. government. In addition to research, Komen and its nationwide network of Affiliates serve women and men in thousands of communities. To date, more than $2.3 billion has been invested in efforts to provide critical education and real-time support to people in communities across the country.

Komen’s Investments in New York

Komen’s research grant program is supported in part by funds raised by the organization’s nationwide network of Affiliates. Each year, Affiliates contribute at least 25 percent of local funds raised to research, while the remainder of their funds help provide vital education and real-time support to people facing breast cancer today in their communities.

Since originally established, Komen Upstate New York has funded $14,863,379 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $5,747,214 to Komen research.

Komen’s new research in NEW YORK includes:

Columbia University

Komen Scholar Dawn Hershman, M.D., will receive $600,000 to test a new way to improve treatment adherence in early stage and metastatic breast cancer patients. She will conduct two prospective clinical trials to assess the effectiveness and feasibility of a medication reminder application designed to improve adherence to both oral anticancer therapy and medications for chronic conditions. By increasing treatment adherence, this project could improve survival of people diagnosed with breast cancer.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Neil Vasan, M.D., Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to study how two common mutations to a breast cancer driver gene, PIK3CA, impact how patients with estrogen receptor positive (ER+) metastatic breast cancer respond to targeted therapies. The goal of this work is to identify which patients might benefit the most from targeted treatments.

Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Komen Scientific Advisory Board Member Lisa Newman, M.D., will receive $400,000 to study how ancestry, particularly African ancestry, contributes to triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). She will compare gene expression in TNBC samples from patients from west Africa, east Africa, African Americans and Caucasian Americans to determine if shared ancestry, population migration and reproductive patterns contribute to the development of specific subtypes of TNBC. This work will better define TNBC subtypes in diverse populations, advance our understanding of breast cancer disparities and expand our knowledge of the root causes of TNBC so it can be stopped.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in communities across Upstate New York, both on the ground and through research,” said Andrea Moran, Senior Director of Communication and Community Relations.


About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen® is the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has an unmatched, comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide.  We advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information.  Born out of a promise between two sisters, Susan G. Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures.

Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen.

About Susan G. Komen® Upstate New York

Susan G. Komen Upstate New York supports the Komen Mission: To save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer. With offices in Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, and Elmira, Komen Upstate New York is the resource for breast cancer and breast health needs across a 49-county service area, including three counties in Pennsylvania. Beyond our contribution to national research efforts, our Affiliate funds vital patient care programs, community-based screening initiatives and advocacy for patient rights, for both men and women, affected by breast cancer.