Susan G. Komen Announces Nearly $33 Million in New Research Funding to Support BOLD GOAL of Cutting Breast Cancer Mortality by 50%

New England Researchers Receive More Than $5 Million in New Research Funding

DALLAS – September 19, 2016 – Building on its bold goal to reduce current breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. over the next decade, Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced $32.7 million in new research grants for 2016. Awarded across 23 states and 7 countries, the projects span the entire continuum of breast cancer research, including research into metastatic disease, novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer, new technologies and health equity – areas that will make a significant impact in achieving the 50 percent goal.

The grants include more than $4.3 million in new funding for research at five institutions in Massachusetts, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Massachusetts to $73,148,837 since 1982.

“For nearly 35 years our organization has been a leader in the fight to end breast cancer, changing how people think about, talk about and treat this disease. Now, with a sharpened focus on our organization’s new strategic direction, we are delighted to announce new research funding that will play a significant role in making our bold goal a reality,” said Komen President and CEO Judy Salerno, M.D., M.S.

“Not only will these grants accelerate our understanding of key areas in breast cancer research, but they include funding for early-career investigators. As federal research dollars become increasingly difficult to secure, these awards give promising young researchers an opportunity to establish their careers, and help ensure breakthrough breast cancer research continues for years to come,” Dr. Salerno added. “Their work is essential to achieving our vision of a world without breast cancer.”

Grants from Komen’s nearly $33 million 2016 research portfolio* – including more than $16 million to early-career investigators – will focus on promising areas in research that have the greatest potential to save lives, including:

  • 38 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to stop it.
  • 15 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, Luminal B and inflammatory breast cancer).
  • 21 grants advancing our ability to detect primary and recurrent breast cancer at its earliest stages.
  • 12 grants identifying the causes of breast cancer disparities and testing ways to overcome barriers to care.
Komen’s Investments in New England

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which direct 25 percent of net funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while investing the remaining 75 percent into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

Since 1992, Komen New England has funded $27 million in community programs serving local women and men, while contributing more than $9 million to Komen research.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family, and neighbors who fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Massachusetts, both on the ground and through research,” said Lori van Dam, Susan G. Komen New England CEO.

In Massachusetts, researchers will receive more than $4.3 million.

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

  • Nikhil Wagle, M.D., is leading a nationwide study that seeks to empower patients to accelerate research and transform our understanding of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Using a project website, social media, and word of mouth, Dr. Wagle and team are offering MBC patients across the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to share their samples and clinical information with his research team. Dr. Wagle will receive $375,000 for a study that will analyze samples from young women with metastatic breast cancer to identify molecular and genetic differences compared to older women.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

  • Johann Bergholz, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to identify and test new targeted therapies for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). He will test whether a combination therapy that targets a protein called PTEN and the immune system can treat TNBC and prevent recurrence and metastasis.
  • Komen Chief Scientific Advisor Eric Winer, M.D., will receive $200,000 to study how the immune system interacts with a breast tumor. Dr. Winer’s team will investigate whether changes in immune-related genes can be used to predict which patients with hormone-positive breast cancer will respond to immunotherapies.
  • Komen Scientific Advisory Board Member Myles Brown, M.D., will receive $200,000 to study estrogen receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer to determine the causes of treatment resistance. His work will focus on identifying new drug targets for the treatment of breast cancer that is resistant to current therapies.
  • Komen Scholar Ian Krop, M.D., Ph.D., will receive $600,000 to continue his research to discover how HER2-positive breast cancers develop resistance to HER2-targeted therapies by looking at mutations in patients’ tumors. This work could lead to the development of new therapies to overcome resistance.
  • Komen Scholar Jennifer Ligibel, M.D., will receive $600,000 to conduct a clinical trial to test whether weight loss can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in overweight or obese women with stage II-III breast cancer. This study has the potential to determine whether weight loss programs should become a standard part of breast cancer treatments.
  • Komen Scholar Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D., will receive $600,000 to study a specific population of normal p27+ breast cells that could be precursors to breast tumors and can predict the risk of developing breast cancer. She will study how hormones regulate the growth of these cells and whether depleting this population of cells can prevent breast cancer.

Massachusetts General Hospital

  • Priscilla Brastianos, M.D., will receive $447,279 to study how breast cancer spreads to the brain. Dr. Brastianos will identify the genetic differences between the original breast tumors and new tumors in the brain to find genes that may cause breast tumors to spread to the brain. Her work could identify new ways of treating and preventing brain metastasis.
  • Remi Buisson, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to study the role of DNA repair in breast cancer, and to develop new drugs and drug combinations that target this process. Dr. Buisson will specifically test whether a class of drugs known as ATR inhibitors can be combined with existing breast cancer treatments to better treat breast cancer.
  • Mihriban Karaayvaz, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to study how a specific population of normal breast cells gives rise to breast cancer. Dr. Karaayvaz will investigate how these cells become abnormal and whether reversing these abnormalities can prevent breast cancer, particularly in women at high risk such as BRCA gene mutation carriers.
  • Nicole Vincent Jordan, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to develop a personalized, real-time approach to treat metastatic breast cancer based on changes in tumor cells in the blood – called circulating tumor cells. Dr. Jordan will use these cells to look for changes in drug sensitivity, which could then be used to determine more-effective therapies as the tumor evolves.

Children’s Hospital Boston

  • Jing Li, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to study how the shape of proteins called integrins affects breast cancer progression, metastasis and resistance to therapy. Dr. Li will use this information to improve the design of drugs that target integrins, resulting in more effective therapies, particularly for metastatic and drug-resistant breast cancers.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Rachel Walker, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to conduct a clinical trial using a new biobehavioral approach that promotes activity and reduces sedentary behaviors in breast cancer survivors using new technologies and devices such as such smartphones and wristbands that allow people to track their daily activity and sleep patterns. By focusing on factors that breast cancer survivors can modify themselves, this study aims to give breast cancer survivors a higher level of personal control over their health and reduce disability as a result of treatment symptoms.

University of Vermont

  • Jason Stumpf, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to study a potential weakness found in the chromosomes of rapidly growing triple negative breast cancers. Since they grow so quickly, breast cancer cells may have more error-prone or unstable chromosomes compared to normal cells. Dr. Stumpf will take advantage of this observation to develop drugs to target cancer cells, leaving normal cells untouched.

Yale University

  • Komen Scholar Lajos Pusztai, Ph.D., will receive $600,000 to study how breast cancers are able to hide from the immune system. Dr. Pusztai will study which types of immune cells surround primary and metastatic breast cancers in order to develop better, more specific anti-tumor vaccines that will destroy cancer cells that were previously able to hide from the immune system.

Massachusetts also has 45 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years, including grants to Komen Scholars Joan Brugge, Ph.D., David Livingston, M.D, and Judy Garber, M.D., MPH.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment to more than $920 million since opening its doors in 1982, the largest of any nonprofit outside 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 billion has been invested in community programs that provide education, screening, and treatment support.

*Contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen


About Susan G. Komen® New England
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. Komen has set a Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. Komen New England is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Susan G. Komen New England began with Races for the Cure® in Boston and Manchester, VT in 1993 and Hartford in 1994. The Affiliate has invested nearly $12 million in Connecticut organizations, $9 million in Massachusetts organizations, and $8 million in Vermont and New Hampshire organizations providing breast health services to uninsured and underinsured residents. The Affiliate has also contributed more than $8 million to support breast cancer research.

Susan G. Komen has awarded more than more than $68 million for breast cancer research in Massachusetts, $9 million for breast cancer research in Connecticut, and nearly $4 million for breast cancer research in Vermont and New Hampshire. For more information, call 508.366.1945 or visit