2017 Research Grants


North Carolina Researchers Receive $1,315,573 in Research Funding

DALLAS – September 26, 2017 – Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced 2017 research funding of $30.7 million for 98 research grants, with a focus on new treatments and understanding of the most lethal forms and stages of breast cancer. Komen funding to institutions in 27 states and 7 countries also includes research into new screening technologies, treatments for metastatic and aggressive types of breast cancer and disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

The grants include $1,315,573 in new funding for research at two institutions in North Carolina, bringing Komen’s total research investment in North Carolina to $42,106,001 since 1982.

“We are focused on new treatments, ways to overcome drug resistance in breast cancer patients, and a better understanding of how and why breast cancer spreads, so that we can better treat metastatic breast cancer or prevent it all together,” said Ellen Willmott, interim president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “This focus on aggressive and metastatic disease is the foundation of our Bold Goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.”

Metastatic breast cancer – which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones or lungs – is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. More than 154,000 women are living with metastatic disease in the U.S. today. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen is hoping to reduce breast cancer deaths dramatically in the U.S.

This year’s funding also includes $17.6 million to early-career investigators. “Funding for early-career researchers ensures a continuum of breast cancer research, across generations, which is critical in a time of tightening federal research dollars,” Willmott said.

Komen’s 2017 portfolio includes*:

  • 37 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to better treat it or prevent it;
  • 37 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, inflammatory breast cancer luminal B, and ER-positive recurrent breast cancer).
  • 59 grants focused on new therapies, including 10 for targeted therapies and 20 for drug development
  • 24 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • 9 on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and 2 involving Big Data

*Eds Note: Numbers may add to more than 98 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.

Komen’s Investments in North Carolina

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which directs 25 percent of 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 1997, Komen NC Triangle to the Coast has funded $12,949,534 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $4,976,077 to Komen research.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in North Carolina, both on the ground and through research,” said Komen NCTC Executive Director, Pam Kohl.

In North Carolina, researchers will receive…

Duke University Medical Center

Erika Crosby, Ph.D., will receive nearly $180,000 to create a vaccine for breast cancers that express a specific version of HER2, called HER2delta16, which promotes resistance to treatment. The development of this vaccine has the potential to improve treatment responses and ultimately patient survival.

Duke University will receive $56,000 to support the Accelerating Anti-Cancer Drug Development and Validation (AAADV) Workshop and the Duke/Susan G. Komen Fundamentals course. The mission of the Fundamentals course is to introduce patient advocates to the FDA’s drug development and approval process. The Fundamentals course will focus on how advocates can work more effectively with all stakeholders in the research process – industry, academia, government and technology – to ensure that the patient voice is incorporated across all conversations and decision making

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Susana Garcia Recio, Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to determine if a protein called FGFR4 is a good therapeutic target for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Dr. Recio will also work to identify additional proteins that promote TNBC progression. The goal of this research is to identify new treatment alternatives and improve treatment options for patients diagnosed with this type of aggressive breast cancer.

Chad Pecot, M.D., will receive $450,000 to study the role of a protein called HDAC11 in promoting the spread of breast cancer cells (metastasis) through the lymph nodes (lymphatic system). The goal of this research is to better understand how cancer cells metastasize through the lymphatic system and whether targeting HDAC11 can prevent metastasis.

Benjamin Vincent, M.D., will receive nearly $450,000 to study patient samples collected from a clinical trial testing the use of cyclophosphamide (chemotherapy) followed by pembrolizumab (immunotherapy) in patients with metastatic triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Using data collected from the samples, Dr. Vincent’s goal is to better predict treatment response for patients with metastatic TNBC.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $956 million since opening its doors in 1982, the largest of any nonprofit and second only to 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.

North Carolina also has 19 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years including grants to Komen Scholars Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., Lisa Carey, M.D., and Charles Perou, Ph.D.