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BCRF Awards $60.2M in Grants to more than 250 Investigators Around the World

By BCRF | September 27, 2023

BCRF announces research projects for 2023-2024

New York, NY – Sept 27, 2023The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) announced its $60.2 million commitment to fund breast cancer research in 2023-2024, supporting more than 250 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions across 14 countries. BCRF-funded research spans the entire spectrum of the disease—from studying the very roots of cancer to how it spreads throughout the body. Marking its 30th year, BCRF now stands as the largest private funder of breast cancer research—and metastatic breast cancer research—in the world.

“For 30 years, BCRF has led the charge in moving research forward,” said BCRF President & CEO Donna McKay. “Since BCRF’s founding in 1993, the scientists we support have been thinking big, taking risks, and consequently, breaking new ground. BCRF empowers the world’s most brilliant investigators to test bold new ideas. Their innovations become the basis of breakthroughs to come—advances that now arrive at ever-increasing speed. We are grateful to our supporters for making another year of groundbreaking research possible.”

“We’ve seen tremendous progress over the last three decades,” said BCRF Chief Scientific Officer Dorraya El-Ashry, PhD. “Even as we’ve made significant, lifesaving advances in understanding and treating breast cancer, it is still the leading cause of cancer incidence and cancer death in women around the world. We must continue to lead the charge in improving treatments while tackling prevention, all while seeking to ensure an equitable future for all patients to reap lifesaving benefits. At BCRF, we remain committed to cultivating a community of scientists to lead the charge on both fronts—curing and preventing breast cancer.”

Learn more about our research projects by tuning in to BCRF’s official podcast, Investigating Breast Cancer, available on all platforms, for one-on-one interviews with the world’s leading breast cancer experts. And keep up with the latest developments in breast cancer research on BCRF’s blog, The Progress Report.

BCRF funds a diverse array of researchers working across the entire spectrum of breast cancer, including in the following major focus areas:


BCRF will continue to expand our Global Data Hub, a first-of-its-kind centralized collection of breast cancer research data. The wide variety of datasets it contains, when shared with others and when coupled with state-of-the art technologies such as artificial intelligence, will dramatically expedite new studies and amplify the impact of all BCRF investments, including leading-edge investigations into metastasis.


While deaths from breast cancer have declined by 43 percent over the last 30 years, the same has not held true across all U.S. populations. Most alarmingly, Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. We are committed to addressing disparities by taking a multi-pronged approach to study the root causes of this inequity—this includes supporting a myriad of studies that examine factors from genetic and biological to environmental that impact the disparity gap. BCRF also launched a partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation to advance our shared goal of reducing breast cancer disparities. Our Health Equity Initiative seeks to improve outcomes by addressing the complex questions regarding how multiple biological and social factors interact to influence breast cancer risk and outcomes for Black women.  


Each year, BCRF significantly invests in research for metastatic breast cancer (MBC), funding 83 projects this year. Studies include those to understand the basic biology of how a breast cancer cell spreads throughout the body, discover biomarkers that can predict which cancers are most likely to spread, and develop new therapies to treat and prevent metastasis.

BCRF’s AURORA projects, supported by the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund, is the largest international effort dedicated exclusively to MBC research. This collaborative, multi-year global initiative, which studies the molecular basis of metastasis, is already yielding important and actionable insights—building blocks for the next innovations against MBC. Preliminary results from the most comprehensive molecular analysis of metastatic breast cancer have revealed changes in molecular subtypes, genomic landscape, and the immune microenvironment in metastatic tumors compared to matched primary tumors.


Research in tumor biology is the foundation of nearly all breast cancer research and makes up more than half of BCRF’s research grants portfolio, totaling 155 projects studying cancer initiation genes and pathways, tumor growth drivers, and biomarkers. BCRF’s sustained support of research into the fundamental biology of cancer underpins the strides we’ve made in precision medicine and targeted therapies.


BCRF continues to invest in research studying genetic ancestry, family history, and more to better predict risk, with 47 projects funded this year. Studies go beyond the well-known breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, to understand the impact of lesser-known genes (i.e., PALB2, CHEK2, and ATM) as well as investigating how common gene mutations that alone are non-pathogenic but when combined influence inherited breast cancer risk. In addition, BCRF researchers are identifying prevention and screening strategies for individuals at high risk.


The only way to reduce breast cancer incidence is to prevent the disease from taking root. BCRF is funding 47 projects to advance our understanding of risk factors and develop interventions to migrate the risk. Researchers are investigating how factors such as obesity and environmental exposures may impact risk, while searching for lifestyle intervention strategies to reduce risk and prevent breast cancer. Building on the success of Phase I of BCRF’s Precision Prevention Initiative (PPI), we’ve launched the project’s Phase II. To make tailored prevention strategies the new standard of care, PPI Phase II will drive inquiries into risk assessment and stratification; biomarkers that may indicate risk and prognosis; and preventative interventions beyond prophylactic surgery.


BCRF investigators are leading the field in the search for new therapeutic strategies for breast cancer with 139 projects this year. BCRF investigators are seeking to improve existing therapies and advance new ones. As advances in precision medicine move us into an era where therapies are less toxic, more targeted, and more personalized, BCRF supports the refinement of technologies like liquid biopsy, immunotherapy, and antibody-drug conjugates—each of which may allow clinicians to de-escalate treatment without sacrificing efficacy.


There are nearly 4 million people in the U.S. with a history of breast cancer with an estimated 168,000 people living with metastatic disease. BCRF is funding 40 projects seeking answers to the variety of physical, emotional, and psychosocial challenges faced during and after treatment, so that patients are not only living longer, but are able to live full and productive lives.

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