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The Ground We've Gained

The Ground We've Gained

Nearly three decades 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, metastasis, 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 40 percent since 1989. But with more than 44,000 lives lost to the disease each year, there is still critical work to be done.

1993

The first organization dedicated exclusively to breast cancer research, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, is founded by Evelyn H. Lauder with support from BCRF Founding Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton.
1993

1994

BCRF’s first grants are awarded to eight scientists in the U.S. Today, BCRF grants support the work of nearly 250 investigators around the world.
1994

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.
1994

1995

An English team of scientists including Dr. Alan Ashworth, a BCRF grantee since 2008, discovers the BRCA2 gene.
1995

1998

The FDA approves Herceptin (trastuzumab), a targeted therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer proven to decrease the risk of recurrence by 50 percent. Herceptin and newer targeted drugs have dramatically changed the management of HER2-positive breast cancer. BCRF investigators continue to research new targeted therapies and how they can be combined with existing treatments to improve outcomes.
1998

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 the disease by about 30 percent.
1999

2001

BCRF awards its first international grant to Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Israel. Today, BCRF funds researchers in 14 countries, all working to dramatically improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer for women and men everywhere.
2001

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.
2001

2003

BCRF investigators first identify breast cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells were 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.
2003

2004

Recurrence predictor Oncotype DX® launches. The test quantifies the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence for early-stage breast cancer patients and predicts the magnitude of chemotherapy benefit. This new tool helps ensure patients not only receive the right drugs but that those patients with a high risk of recurrence or metastasis receive preventive measures early.
2004

2005

BCRF and the National Cancer Institute form the first major transatlantic effort, the BIG-NABCG Trans-Atlantic Breast Cancer Initiative, to coordinate clinical trials and studies of patient samples.
2005

2006

The Institute of Medicine issues its “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition” report, the first-ever formal recommendations for cancer survivorship research and care. Because we know a breast cancer diagnosis can be a significant change, BCRF has long supported research that will improve quality of life during and after treatment.
2006

2007

The 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

2007

The FDA approves MammaPrint®, a 70-gene diagnostic test developed by BCRF investigator Dr. Laura van 't Veer 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 is necessary.
2007

2009

Preventive surgery—the removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes, and breasts—is confirmed to reduce the risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 and 2 gene mutation carriers.
2009

2010

BCRF investigators launch the large, multi-city Legacy Girls Study to examine environmental exposures in a cohort of more than 1,000 young girls in San Francisco, New York, Ontario, Philadelphia, and Utah.
2010

2012

Perjeta® (pertuzumab) is approved for HER2-positive breast cancer in combination with Herceptin and chemotherapy. In people with metastatic breast cancer, the new combination improved overall survival to 56 months—up from 40 months without combination.
2012

2013

The Rosner–Colditz model considers well-established risk factors for breast cancer, 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 following the surgical removal of ovaries).
2013

2013

The American Cancer Society reports that more than 3 million women and men were then living with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. Today, that number is more than 3.8 million.
2013

2013

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance launches. Fifteen foundations, including BCRF, unite with six pharmaceutical companies to improve the lives of women and men living with metastatic breast cancer.
2013

2014

American Cancer Society reports that deaths from breast cancer have declined by 38 percent since 1990.
2014

2014

BCRF launches the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder's Fund for Metastatic Breast Cancer in memory of Mrs. Lauder who passed away in 2011. 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. via the AURORA studies. BCRF also supports numerous other projects and researchers focused on metastatic breast cancer. Read more here.
2014

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, which is required for growth. By blocking specific CDKs (4 and 6), cells are unable to multiply, and cancer can be slowed or stopped.
2015

2015

New York Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and Texas Congressman Pete Sessions announce the introduction of the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act (HR-3680) directing the U.S. Treasury to issue special minted coins to raise money for breast cancer research. The Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Program officially launched in 2018 with BCRF as the recipient of funds raised.
2015

2016

BCRF launches the Drug Research Collaborative, an effort to bridge the gap between academic investigators and access to drugs in development. The initiative is initially funded by a three-year, $15 million grant from Pfizer. The company gives researchers access to its portfolio of approved products and its pipeline of drugs under development. Within five years, the program expands to include participation from Eli Lilly and Company and Astellas Pharma Inc.
2016

2018

The FDA approves Lynparza® (olaparib), the first PARP inhibitor for HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer in patients with BRCA1/2 mutations. The drug was previously approved to treat ovarian cancer in patients with BRCA mutations. Several BCRF investigators’ work contributed to the development of PARP inhibitors in breast and ovarian cancers.
2018

2018

After 10 years and 10,000 women, the BCRF-supported TAILORx trial confirms most women with early stage, ER-positive breast cancer (nearly 60,000 women per year) can forgo chemotherapy based on their Oncotype DX® Recurrence Scores®. The new development prevents overtreatment and allows patients to receive the most effective care for their tumor-type.
2018

2020

Breast cancer brain metastases, while rare, are exceedingly difficult to treat, and patients with “brain mets” are largely excluded from trials. In April, the FDA approves Tukysa® (tucatinib) based on the results from the HER2CLIMB trial led by BCRF investigator Dr. Nancy Lin. Tucatinib is the first approved drug to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain.
2020

2020

The BCRF-supported RxPONDER trial builds on TAILORx’s findings to include patients considered to be at a higher risk of recurrence. Results show that postmenopausal women with hormone receptor (HR)–positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that has spread to three or fewer lymph nodes can safely forego chemotherapy.
2020

2021

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends the use of the Breast Cancer Index (BCI) assay developed by BCRF investigator Dr. Dennis Sgroi. BCI predicts which patients with early-stage, HR-positive breast cancer should extend anti-estrogen therapy beyond five years.
2021

2021

BCRF investigator Dr. Fergus Couch publishes the results of the first large, multi-center study (CARRIERS) to improve the accuracy of breast cancer risk assessment for women without a family history of the disease.
2021