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The Breast Cancer Research Foundation Awards Grants to 275 Investigators Around the World

BCRF announces projects for 2020-2021

New York, NY – October 1, 2020The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) announced its $40 million commitment to fund breast cancer research for 2020-21, funding 275 scientists at leading academic and medical institutions around the world. BCRF-funded research spans the entire spectrum of cancer—from the most basic biology of a cancer cell to developing innovative treatments and improving quality of life.

"Even as the entire world grapples with the undeniably devastating impact of COVID-19, women and men continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer," said Myra Biblowit, BCRF President & CEO. “We lose 110 people to the disease every day in the U.S. We must continue supporting research today to save lives tomorrow and ensure there is no pause on progress. Our cohort of investigators represent the very brightest minds in science working tirelessly to eradicate breast cancer, even in the face of tremendous challenge.”

“The very nature of advancing research is built one leap at a time,” said Dr. Dorraya El-Ashry, BCRF Chief Scientific Officer. “Breakthroughs happen as a result of many research projects and individual leaps building on each other. One monumental win is, in reality, a series of wins that lead to major changes in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. BCRF investigators are on the frontlines, working together to forge a path towards ending breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.”

Learn more about our research projects by tuning in to BCRF’s official podcast, “Investigating Breast Cancer,” featuring one-on-one interviews with the world’s leading breast cancer experts. Available on iTunes and bcrf.org/podcasts.

What’s new in research for 2020-2021

BCRF funds a diverse array of research across the entire spectrum of breast cancer, including the following major advancements:

BCRF IS THE LARGEST PRIVATE FUNDER OF METASTATIC RESEARCH IN THE U.S.

Each year, BCRF significantly invests in research for metastatic breast cancer (MBC). About 40 percent of BCRF‘s grants are focused on MBC, funding 88 projects this year alone. Studies include understanding the basic biology of how a breast cancer cell develops the ability to spread throughout the body, discovering biomarkers that can predict which cancers are most likely to spread, and the development of new therapies to treat and prevent metastasis.

BCRF’s flagship metastatic breast cancer research program, AURORA, supported by the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund, is the largest international effort dedicated exclusively to MBC research. This year, both AURORA-U.S. and -EU announced progress towards completing the most comprehensive molecular analysis of metastatic breast cancer to date. AURORA-EU announced that they have accrued 1,000 patient samples. Data from these samples—along with samples from AURORA-U.S.—will define, for the first time, deep molecular alterations specifically in breast cancer metastases compared to primary tumors. This unprecedented collection of metastatic breast cancer patient samples and scale of multi-disciplinary analyses is a major step forward, steering us towards a path of not only better understanding metastasis, but identifying therapeutic targets specifically in metastatic breast cancer, the greatest challenge in breast cancer today.

BCRF INVESTIGATORS STUDYING THE ROOT OF ALL CANCER CELLS

Foundational research in tumor biology represents more than half of BCRF research grants because nearly all breast cancer research requires an understanding of cancer’s basic biology. Cancer initiation genes and pathways, tumor growth drivers, and biomarkers that can help identify targeted therapies for each patient would remain a mystery without discoveries in the laboratory. BCRF’s continued investment in basic research is moving the needle forward in all areas of breast cancer research in new and innovative ways.

BCRF CONTINUES EFFORTS TO UNDERSTAND INHERITED RISK OF CANCER

BCRF is investing in 33 projects studying genetics, family history, race and ethnicity to better predict risk. Studies include understanding how mutations in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 modify risk; identifying new breast cancer susceptibility genes and predicting the risk they have on developing breast cancer; and identifying prevention and screening strategies for individuals at high risk.

BCRF RESEARCH SHEDS LIGHT ON LIFESTYLE AND PREVENTION STRATEGIES

BCRF is supporting 37 projects investigating environmental risk, lifestyle factors and prevention. These projects include studies that are discovering the underlying relationship between obesity and breast cancer risk; identifying environmental factors that may influence risk; and lifestyle intervention strategies to reduce the risk of and prevent breast cancer.

BCRF SCIENTISTS SEARCH FOR THE MOST EFFECTIVE, TREATMENTS

BCRF is investing in 90 projects to improve treatments, develop new targeted therapies and optimize care for patients with breast cancer. As part of these efforts, BCRF will expand the Drug Research Collaborative to include studies of a CDK4/6 inhibitor drug approved for estrogen receptor positive, advanced breast cancer to explore the efficacy in early breast cancer, to define mechanisms of resistance and find ways of overcoming them, and to develop novel combinations and schedules, among many other opportunities. 

BCRF INVESTS IN QUALITY OF LIFE DURING AND AFTER BREAST CANCER TREATMENT

This year, 21 projects will study survivorship to improve the quality of life of patients during and after treatment. With more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., the largest cancer survivor group, alongside the 168,000 estimated people living with metastatic disease, patients face a multitude of physical, mental and emotional challenges, ranging from pain and fatigue to cognitive and sleeping issues. These challenges may persist long after treatment is over or are simply a part of daily life for those who may always require treatment.

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The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

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