Nashville, TN (TN Tribune) – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced the awarding of three new grants to Drs. Tuya Pal, Ben Ho Park and Jennifer Pietenpol.  These grants are part of Komen’s $14 million in new grants overall to support the organization’s mission to end breast cancer through funding two key focus areas: research to better detect and treat stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer and research to eliminate disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

 

“We are extremely proud to be able to continue our legacy of leading investments in breast cancer research, especially in light of the challenges all nonprofits faced raising funds during this pandemic year,” said Paula Schneider, president and CEO of Susan G. Komen and a breast cancer survivor.  “This investment reinforces our commitment to funding innovative science from some of the leading minds in breast cancer research while also developing the next generation of scientists at a time when we have never needed them more.”

 

With our research grant funding overall, we are focused on:

·         Supporting leaders in the field of breast cancer research

·         Build the next generation of breast cancer researchers to lead the field

·         Improving how we detect, prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer, and

·         Addressing disparities in breast cancer care and outcomes.

 

“Applying the latest molecular biology technology to the major problem of evolving resistance to cancer therapy through innovative use of so-called “liquid biopsies” is an approach poised to alter how we treat, and beat, dangerous breast cancers,” said George Sledge, M.D., Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor.

 

Tuya Pal, M.D., who last week was named a new Komen Scholar, will offer an educational tool for genetic counseling to young Black women with breast cancer and evaluate outcomes in genetic testing attitudes. Dr. Pal will also examine breast tumor samples and outcomes from Black and non-Hispanic white women to better understand how inherited mutations contribute to disparate breast cancer outcomes. The goal of this project is to better understand how genetic testing for inherited mutations in breast cancer genes can potentially reduce disparities in breast cancer outcomes for Black women.

 

Ben Ho Park, M.D., Ph.D., who is also a Komen Scholar, will use preclinical models to validate and test how a mutated protein, SF3B1, can serve as a target for breast cancer immunotherapy. The goal of this project is to develop and pilot a new precision therapy option for breast cancer patients.

 

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., who also serves as Komen’s other Chief Scientific Advisor, will use patient samples from a clinical trial in combination with pre-clinical models to better understand how metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) can be targeted and treated by a combination of chemotherapies and immunotherapy. The goal of this project is to uncover new, subtype-specific therapy combinations to personalize treatments for patients with TNBC.

 

Komen has now invested about $1.1 billion in research in the nearly 40 years since its founding, the largest collective investment of any breast cancer nonprofit, and second only to the U.S. government.

 

Visit komen.org for a full list of this year’s research grants.