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BCRF Awards Grants to 255 Investigators Around the World

By BCRF | September 30, 2022

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation announces research projects for 2022-2023

New York, NY – Sept 30, 2022 – The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) announced its $52.7 million commitment to fund breast cancer research in 2022-23, supporting 255 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions across 14 countries. BCRF-funded research spans the entire spectrum of the disease—from studying the most basic biology of a cancer cell to developing innovative treatments and improving quality of life.

“Research is advancing at unprecedented rates, and BCRF is uniquely positioned to further accelerate progress,” said BCRF President & CEO Myra Biblowit. “Our investigators—among the best minds in science—are poised to herald targeted therapies, precision prevention, and an era of more equitable outcomes. We remain tremendously grateful for our dedicated donors, partners, supporters, and volunteers who, each year, ensure lifesaving breakthroughs.”

“We have reached a critical inflection point as a global community,” said BCRF Chief Scientific Officer Dorraya El-Ashry, PhD. “Even as we’ve made significant, lifesaving strides 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 reduce breast cancer incidence by tackling prevention with the same personalized approach that has led to dramatic declines in breast cancer deaths here in the U.S. At BCRF, we are 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:


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—a gap that increased from 40 percent last year and stands to further widen as a result of screening delays during the pandemic. We are committed to addressing disparities by taking a multi-pronged approach to studying root causes of this inequity. A few key approaches include:

  • Understanding the genetic components and biology of breast cancer in Black women, such as the increased likelihood that Black women are more likely to have BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, as well as other inherited susceptibility genes, which could inform screening and prevention decisions.
  • Finding targeted treatments for triple-negative breast cancer, a form of the disease for which there are few targeted therapies and that disproportionately impacts young Black women.
  • Identifying how social determinants of health coalesce to impact breast cancer outcomes—factors such as limited access to affordable, high-quality healthcare and other resources, can, in turn, lead to increased incidence of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity; and how the biology of these conditions influences breast cancer risk and worsens outcomes.

This October marks the 30th Anniversary of The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Campaign, founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1992. The Estée Lauder Companies is our leading corporate partner and recipient of this year’s Sandra Taub Humanitarian Award. We are proud to share that The Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation, will donate $15 million to BCRF—the largest corporate donation in BCRF history—to fund innovative research addressing breast cancer disparities. The gift ($3 million per year, for five years) will further our shared goal of reducing breast cancer disparities and improving outcomes by addressing the complex questions regarding how multiple biological and social factors combine to influence breast cancer risk and outcomes for Black women. Learn more here.


Each year, BCRF significantly invests in research for metastatic breast cancer (MBC), which comprises approximately 41 percent of BCRF’s research portfolio, funding 84 projects this year alone. 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. 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 147 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 49 projects funded this year. Studies go beyond the well-known breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1and 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.


Breast cancer has become the most common cancer in the world, surpassing lung cancer for the first time in 2020. The only way to reduce breast cancer incidence is to prevent the disease from taking root. BCRF is funding 39 projects to advance our understanding of risk factors. 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. In its fourth year, BCRF’s Precision Prevention Initiative aims to accelerate personalized approaches for risk assessment that will identify those at greatest risk of breast cancer. Projects include applications of machine learning for precise interpretation of screening mammograms, artificial intelligence to identify markers of risk for breast cancer and characterizing premalignant lesions to identify those with a high likelihood of becoming invasive, aggressive disease.


BCRF investigators are leading the field in the search for new therapeutic strategies for breast cancer. Nearly 138 BCRF projects seek to improve existing therapies and advance new ones. In the last year, BCRF’s Drug Research Collaborative launched several exciting studies exploring ways to improve response to CDK4/6 inhibitors in metastatic estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer, including studies to identify mechanisms of resistance, explore the anti-tumor and pro-immune effects of these agents, and reveal genetic mediators that diminish the effectiveness of this class of therapies.


There are more than 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 33 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.