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BCRF Supports Young Scientists with Conquer Cancer®, the ASCO Foundation

By BCRF | November 18, 2019

BCRF attended the fifth annual Conquer Cancer Scientific and Career Development Retreat designed to empower early career researchers.

BCRF has long recognized the importance of supporting promising young investigators. Without funding, early-career scientists cannot gain the independence they need to make significant contributions to breast cancer research and impact patients’ lives.

Since 2001, BCRF has supported the career development of tomorrow’s leading physician-scientists in breast cancer through its partnership with Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation. BCRF has provided $14 million in critical funding to 83 early career clinical research projects through this partnership, including early research by Dr. Vered Stearns and Dr. Lajos Pusztai, current members of BCRF’s Scientific Advisory Board.

This year, BCRF is supporting five Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Awards, two Career Development Awards, one Advanced Clinical Research Award, and a special award honoring the late Dr. Arti Hurria that provides travel support to a young investigator in geriatric oncology to the ASCO Annual Meeting.

For 2020, BCRF is adding to this list a five-year professorship in breast cancer disparities.

Conquering Cancer by Empowering the Next Generation of Researchers

Recently, Conquer Cancer hosted its fifth annual Scientific and Career Development Retreat for its early career award recipients. The retreat featured talks from ASCO and Conquer Cancer leadership as well as opportunities for networking and selected research presentations from awardees.

“The Conquer Cancer annual retreat affords our grant recipients — including those whose work is generously supported by BCRF — opportunities to share their research, network, and form connections with peer physician-scientists and discuss important topics in career growth.” said Susan P. Sandler, Associate Director, Foundation Giving for Conquer Cancer.

A highlight from this year’s featured research presentations included Dr. Prasanna Alluri, recipient of BCRF and Conquer Cancer’s Young Investigator Award (YIA) in 2017.

“My 2017 Young Investigator Award not only jump-started my career but allowed me to pursue studies that will improve the care of patients with metastatic breast cancer,” he said referring to his BCRF-supported research that focused on developing innovative strategies to overcome endocrine treatment resistance.

Dr. Corey Speers, a YIA recipient in 2014, was an oral presenter at the retreat. Since receiving his award, he’s made significant progress towards personalizing radiation treatment for individual patients. Mentored by BCRF investigator, Dr. Lori Pierce, Dr. Speers has gone on to receive additional funding and is currently supported by BCRF through a partnership with the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Heather McArthur attended the meeting and also spoke about career development. In addition to her BCRF funding, Dr. McArthur is the recipient of Conquer Cancer’s Advanced Clinical Research Award (ACRA) in Breast Cancer, also supported by BCRF. This three-year award is allowing her to build on earlier BCRF-supported work with a large, multi-center, randomized study of immune therapy in women with triple negative breast cancer.

“BCRF took a chance on funding our immune therapy study for early stage breast cancer in 2009. To my knowledge we were the first group to explore immune therapy administered with curative intent for breast cancer,” she said.

“The ACRA has allowed us to build on their early experience by supporting a large, multi-center, randomized study of immune therapy in women with treated triple negative breast cancer that are at high risk of recurrence. Innovation in this area would not have been possible without the support of BCRF and ASCO.”