Environmental links to breast cancer tops focus of new Susan G. Komen research funding in 2013


BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. (August 6, 2013) – On August 1, Susan G. Komen® announced $4.5 million in research funding to more fully understand the role that environmental issues play in breast cancer development. The grants will be part of Komen’s $42 million 2013 research portfolio, which includes $225,000 in new funding to researchers at one Florida institution.

The new environmental grants will build on research that Komen has already funded to more fully understand the role of toxins and other environmental factors that may contribute to breast cancer. Komen Chief Mission Officer Chandini Portteus said that the environmental grants are just one element in Komen’s more than $790 million research program – the largest breast cancer research investment of any nonprofit outside of the U.S. government.

“These environmental studies will add to our understanding of how breast cancer develops,” Portteus said. “At the same time, Komen will continue to fund research along the entire cancer spectrum – from prevention, to better screening, more personalized treatments for metastatic disease, and ending disparities in outcomes for women of color and those without adequate access to healthcare,” Portteus said.

Komen’s Commitment in Florida

Since 1995, Komen has invested more than $11 million in research funding to Florida institutions. To date, a total of 36 research grants have been conducted in Florida, 10 of which are still active. Research grants have been awarded to the University of South Florida, Tampa; University of Miami; University of Florida, Gainesville; University of Central Florida, Orlando; Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Jacksonville; Lakeland Regional Cancer Center; and Florida State University, Tallahassee. Through its various fundraising efforts, the Southwest Florida Affiliate has funded $1.9 million in research grants. 

Susan G. Komen Affiliates in Florida also funded more than $47.4 million to community health programs that provide funding to various non-profit organizations for diagnostic services and treatment to medically uninsured and underinsured individuals within their affiliate service areas. Since its inception in 2002, more than $5.9 million has been awarded by the Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida Affiliate through its local grants program.

“Of the monies we raise locally, 75 percent of the net funds stay here in Southwest Florida to support our local breast health care services. The other 25 percent helps fund Komen’s national research programs,” Charlie Myrick, executive director, Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida Affiliate. “We’re thankful for our supporters who help us serve our communities here at home, while supporting our education and research institutions.”

To find a list of local breast health care services funded by the Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida Affiliate for 2013-2014 visit www.komenswfl.org/grants/current-grant-recipients. The 2013 Florida research grant will focus on personalized treatments. $225,000 in funding being awarded to Komen Scholar Eleftherios Mamounas, M.D., M.P.H., at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, will utilize the Oncotype DX genomic classifier to identify patients at risk for local recurrence. The test, in combination with factors such as tumor size, involvement of axillary nodes and age, will help clinicians tailor therapy decisions (such as radiation after surgery) in patients both with and without axillary node involvement. Dr. Mamounas will also investigate whether the test can identify patients that will benefit from the addition of taxanes to anthracycline-based chemotherapy.

Environmental Grants Topics

The five environmental grants awarded for 2013 include separate studies on the impact of radiation exposure on breast cancer development during screening and treatment; pollutants in areas where cancer rates are disproportionately high; the impact of air pollution on breast cancer development, and the role of synthetic chemicals called phthalates.

These grants include grants to Brigham and Women’s Medical Center in Boston; Duke University in Durham, NC; Emory University in Atlanta; and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. More details on these grants can be found here http://blog.komen.org

“In each of these grants, we are attempting to move beyond theories to establish a solid base of scientific evidence on the role of environmental exposures to breast cancer development,” said Portteus. 

Komen has already invested nearly $14 million into 38 research grants studying environmental and lifestyle factors that may affect breast cancer risk, such as chemicals, diet, weight, exercise and alcohol use. 

“Our research and community health outreach would not be possible without the generosity of our partners and donors in communities, and we are so grateful for those who understand and support this vital work for all people facing breast cancer,” Portteus said.

A complete list and description of Komen’s 2013 grants, including the new peer-reviewed Florida grant, is available at http://ww5.komen.org/2013grants.html

About Susan G. Komen®

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Suzy, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Today, Susan G. Komen® works to end breast cancer in the United States and throughout the world by investing more than $790 million in breast cancer research and $1.5 billion in community outreach programs over the past 30 years providing funding to help low-income and uninsured women get screened and get treatment; advocating for cancer research and outreach programs; and working globally in more than 30 countries. Visit www.komen.org. Connect with us at www.facebook.com/susangkomenforthecure and at www.twitter.com/susangkomen.