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BCRF Partnership Awards Support the Next Generation of Breast Cancer Research

By BCRF | December 6, 2021

Meet the 2021-22 recipients of BCRF awards through AACR, ASTRO, and ASCO

When a researcher completes their training and transitions to an independent faculty position, they must juggle equipping and staffing a new laboratory, performing experiments, recruiting junior members of their team, and acquiring funding—all with the ever-looming pressure to prove themselves scientifically in a relatively short time frame. For physician-scientists, one of their biggest hurdles is carving out protected time to perform research while also caring for patients.

It is a trying time, and for those who successfully navigate being an early-career investigator, the hard work is not over. Mid-career researchers are often trapped in funding limbo: They are no longer eligible for early-career funding opportunities, but the larger grants are regularly given to more senior scientists.

While BCRF’s annual grants program supports investigators who are proven, established leaders in the breast cancer field, we are committed to ensuring the continuity of that intellectual pool by also helping to build tomorrow’s leaders. BCRF partners with the nation’s leading cancer research societies to support the development of early- and mid-career investigators. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) help BCRF identify up-and-coming scientists. In turn, BCRF underwrites two- to five-year awards with these organizations to help new researchers secure their place in the breast cancer research community.

In the 2021-2022 grant year, AACR announced two new investigators who will be funded for two years through the BCRF-AACR Career Development Award for Translational Breast Cancer Research. The awards were given with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

Kimberley Lee, MD, MHS is based at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, and her award will be dedicated to addressing racial disparities for patients with hormone receptor–positive breast cancer. She will identify barriers to successful initiation and completion of endocrine therapy among Black patients.

Joshua Saldivar, PhD of Oregon Health and Science University is working to understand how cancer stem cells, which can contribute to tumor recurrence and metastasis, emerge in breast cancer. His work will focus on the role of a protein called ATR, which could be used to help target these cells with new treatments and improve survival.

In the field of radiation oncology, this year’s ASTRO-BCRF Career Development Award to End Breast Cancer was given to Chelain Goodman, MD, PhD at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Goodman’s grant will test the use of circulating tumor cells as a surrogate biomarker to predict the effectiveness of radiation in breast cancer.

This year, BCRF and Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation recognized 20 years of partnership in training the next generation of clinical breast cancer researchers. For the first time, all four of these awards were given to diverse researchers whose work centers on cancer disparities. Read more about the grantees and their projects here.

BCRF is proud to support the next generation of breast cancer researchers.