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Twenty-five years ago, Evelyn H. Lauder and Dr. Larry Norton recognized the urgent need to eradicate breast cancer. As they sat at the Lauder kitchen table discussing how to achieve their shared dream of a world free of breast cancer, they envisioned the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Since 1993, BCRF-supported investigators have been deeply involved in every major breakthrough in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

Research is the reason there are more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. and deaths from breast cancer have declined by nearly 40% over the last 25 years. But with 40,000 lives lost to the disease each year, there is still critical work to be done.



  • 1994

    BCRF’s first grants are awarded to eight scientists in the U.S. Today, BCRF grants support the work of nearly 300 investigators around the world. 

  • 1993

    The first organization dedicated exclusively to breast cancer research, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, is founded by Evelyn H. Lauder with support from Dr. Larry Norton, BCRF Scientific Director.

  • 1994

    Dr. Mary-Claire King, a BCRF grantee since 1997, discovers the location of the BRCA1 gene and uncovers its role in hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.

  • 1995

    An English team of scientists including Dr. Alan Ashworth, a BCRF grantee since 2008, discovers the BRCA2 gene.

  • 1998

    The FDA approves Herceptin (trastuzumab), a targeted therapy for HER2+ breast cancer proven to decrease the risk of recurrence by 50 percent. Herceptin and newer targeted drugs have dramatically changed the management of HER2+ breast cancer. BCRF investigators continue in aiding the development of precision medicine and individualized therapies, resulting in better, more effective treatments and fewer side effects. BCRF-supported studies are also exploring ways to combine targeted therapies with existing chemotherapies to improve clinical outcomes in HER2+ as well as triple negative, ER+ and metastatic breast cancer.
  • 1999

    Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen drug used to treat early and advanced stages of the disease, is approved for primary prevention. In a 20-year follow-up study reported in 2014, it was found that women with a high risk of breast cancer who take Tamoxifen can reduce their incidence of breast cancer by about 30 percent.

  • 2001

    BCRF awards its first international grant to Ephrat Levy-Lahad, MD, at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. Currently a BCRF investigator, Dr. Levy-Lahad is one of the world's foremost authorities on inherited breast cancer among Jewish women. Today, BCRF funds researchers across six continents, all working to dramatically improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer for men and women everywhere.

  • 2001

    Dr. Charles Perou, a BCRF grantee since 2003, classifies breast cancer as a collection of diseases based on different patterns of genes. His discovery reshapes our understanding of breast cancer and helps to guide how treatments are selected. Our scientists are now learning that the major subtypes—Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-positive and triple negative—can be further classified into sub-categories with distinct patterns of progression and response to therapies, opening the door to more individualized treatment plans.

  • 2003

    BCRF investigators make the first identification of cancer stem cells in breast cancer, previously thought only to play a role in blood cancers (hematologic malignancies). From this knowledge, our researchers can explore ways to target breast cancer stem cells to prevent breast cancer progression and metastasis.

  • 2004

    Recurrence predictor, Oncotype DX®, launches. The test quantifies the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence for early-stage breast cancer patients, and also predicts the magnitude of chemotherapy benefit. This new tool helps ensure patients not only receive the right drugs but also that preventive measures can be initiated early in patients with a high risk of recurrence or metastasis.

  • 2005

    BCRF and the National Cancer Institute form the first major transatlantic effort, the BIG-NABCG Trans-Atlantic Breast Cancer Initative, to coordinate clinical trials and studies of patient samples from trials. The Initiative has led to key outputs in data harmonization in adjuvant studies, diagnostics studies (MINDACT/TAILORx) and data sharing; neoadjuvant research issues; the male breast cancer working group; the Endocrine Working Group which developed the POSITIVE trial; the TNBC Working Group, the Biomarker & Ki67 working group; the MBC Working Group which formed the BCRF AURORA studies; and others under development.

  • 2006

    Institute of Medicine issues a report “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition,” the first-ever formal recommendations for cancer survivorship research and care recommendations. Because we know breast cancer is a life-changing experience, we have long supported research that will give patients a better quality of life during and after treatment. BCRF funds leaders in the field who are focused on survivorship and quality of life and conducting studies to improve cognitive impairment from chemotherapy and reduce cancer-associated stress and fatigue.
  • 2007

    American Cancer Society recommends that high risk women, such as those known to carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, receive additional breast MRI screening.

  • 2007

    The FDA approves MammaPrint®, a 70-gene diagnostic test that seeks to better predict breast cancer recurrence in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The genomic test can help physicians determine whether chemotherapy, a treatment plan that helps reduce cancer recurrence, is necessary.

  • 2009

    Preventive surgery, the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes and breasts, is confirmed to reduce the risk of breast cancer in BRCA gene mutation carriers.

  • 2010

    BCRF investigators launch a large multi-city study, the Legacy Girls Study, to examine environmental exposures in a cohort of more than 1000 young girls in San Francisco, New York, Ontario, Philadelphia and Utah.

  • 2012

    A new drug, Perjeta (pertuzumab), is approved for HER2+ breast cancer in combination with Herceptin and chemotherapy. The new combination improved overall survival of metastatic breast cancer to 56 months, compared to 40 months without combination.
  • 2013

    The Rosner-Colditz model for breast cancer considers well-established factors known to contribute to breast cancer risk, including body mass index, alcohol consumption and age at first menstrual period. The model also includes information not considered in other prediction methods, such as a woman’s age at menopause and the type of menopause, whether natural or surgical (following the removal of ovaries).
  • 2013

    American Cancer Society reports that more than 3 million women and men are now living with a history of breast cancer in the U.S.

  • 2013

    The Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance launches. Fifteen foundations, including BCRF and six pharmaceutical companies unite to improve the lives of women and men living with metastatic breast cancer.

  • 2014

    American Cancer Society reports that deaths from breast cancer have declined by 38% since 1990.

  • 2014

    BCRF launches the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder's Fund for Metastatic Breast Cancer in memory of Mrs. Lauder who passed in 2011. With $31 million dedicated to date, the Founder’s Fund projects focus on dissecting the molecular basis of metastasis and identifying new targets for treating metastasis. The Fund supports researchers in both Europe and the U.S., the AURORA-EU and AURORA-U.S. studies, respectively. BCRF also supports research that aims to identify markers in blood or DNA to improve our ability to measure the risk of metastasis and develop strategies to prevent it, and fund clinical trials that are testing promising new combination therapies for treatment of advanced breast cancer.

  • 2015

    A new class of drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors are approved. CDK4/6 inhibitors have shown promise in the treatment of advanced ER+ positive breast cancer. Cyclin dependent kinases (CDK) regulate the process of cell division, required for growth. By blocking specific CDKs (4 and 6), cells are unable to multiply and cancer can be slowed or stopped.

  • 2016

    BCRF launches the Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (Blood PAC) in alignment with Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, to support the mission of making very direct progress towards patient benefit through research. Blood PAC is a public private partnership of now over twenty organizations that have pledged support by contributing liquid biopsy data, protocols, and expertise into an open data commons.

  • 2018

    After 10 years and 10,000 women, the TAILORx trial confirms most women with early stage, ER-positive breast cancer (nearly 60,000 women per year) can now forgo chemotherapy using Oncotype DX® Recurrence Score®. The new development prevents overtreatment and allows patients to receive the most effective care for their tumor-type.


  • 2020


    Early results from the RxPONDER trial show that some post-menopausal women with early-stage HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer can safely forego chemotherapy, extending the findings of the TAILORx results.