Susan G. Komen® announces nearly $33 million in new research funding to support bold goal of cutting breast cancer mortality by 50 percent


North Carolina Researchers Receive $2,965,000 in 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 $2,965,000 in new funding for research to three institutions in North Carolina, bringing Komen’s total research investment in North Carolina to $40,406,515 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 North Carolina

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which direct 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 2000, Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast has funded $12.5 million to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $4.7 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 North Carolina, both on the ground and through research,” said Executive Director Pam Kohl.

In North Carolina, researchers will receive $2,965,000, including:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Gaorav Gupta, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to identify defects in the quality control mechanism that detects and corrects DNA damage or kills off potentially cancerous cells that cannot be fixed. Because these defects are likely to cause triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), this information could be used to provide more personalized treatments for patients with this aggressive breast cancer type.
  • Katherine Hoadley, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to study the genetic and immune cell features of basal-like breast cancer – a poorly understood subtype of breast cancer. Understanding these features could help predict which treatments are likely to be the most effective for patients with basal-like breast cancer.
  • Maki Tanioka, M.D., Ph.D., will receive $120,000 to identify the genetic mutations that cause some HER2+ breast cancers to be less responsive to a specific targeted therapy. Once identified, these mutations could be targeted to improve treatment responses and ultimately patient survival.
  • Melissa Troester, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Andrew F. Olshan, Ph.D. will receive $405,000 to start the UNC-Komen Breast Cancer Mortality Disparities Training Program. Trainees in this program will explore how differences in biology, access to care and other factors lead to differences in survival between African-American and Caucasian breast cancer patients.
  • Komen Scholar Lisa Carey, M.D., will receive $500,000 to continue her work developing a method to rapidly assess the genetic features of breast tumors that have spread to other parts of the body, as well as tumors that remained within the breast, in order to uncover which genetic changes may lead to the development of metastatic breast cancer.
  • Komen Scholar Charles Perou, Ph.D., will receive $600,000 to identify the genetic drivers of the HER2-enriched subtype of HER2+ breast cancer in order to better understand how this type of breast cancer responds to current therapies and identify potential new treatments that may be more effective.

North Carolina Central University

  • Kevin Williams, Ph.D., will receive $405,000 to create a graduate training program in breast cancer disparities at North Carolina Central University (a Historically Black College/University) in partnership with Duke Cancer Institute. Leveraging the expertise at both institutions, NCCU graduate students will design and execute research projects focused on understanding and eliminating breast cancer disparities in African-American women.

North Carolina also has 28 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years, including grants to Komen Scholars Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., and Neil Spector, M.D.

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.

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization outside of the federal government, 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 $920 million in research and provided more than $2 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs. Komen has worked in more than 60 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 or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

*Contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen