Komen Announces Grants, New Event Location

October 27, 2015
By: Karen E. Butler, Director of Communications, DCI

Susan G. Komen recently announced new grants totaling more than $1.6 million for five Duke Cancer Institute researchers. The following DCI researchers have been named to receive Komen grants:

  • Hongyu Tian, PhD, will receive $450,000 to investigate how the TGF- ß pathway is regulated during breast cancer progression, particularly by cells surrounding the tumor or its environment, which could potentially provide a new treatment target for metastatic breast cancer.

  • Komen Scholar Gerard Blobe, MD, PhD, will receive $375,000 to continue investigating whether loss of the transforming growth factor-beta receptor, TβRIII, a protein on the cell surface whose normal function is to inhibit breast cancer formation, is responsible for a decrease in the stiffness of a cancer cell. Cancer cells that are less stiff and more pliable allow the breast cancer cells to become more mobile and invasive.

  • Komen Scholar Kimberly Blackwell, MD, will receive $200,000 to study the amount of cholesterol and cholesterol byproducts in a breast cancer patient’s blood. This could potentially determine if patients with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer will respond better to standard anti-hormone treatment while on anti-cholesterol treatment.

  • Komen Scholar Neil Spector, MD, will receive $400,000 to study the role of a variant form of HER2, referred to as p85HER2, in promoting resistance to HER2-targted therapies. Dr. Spector and team will also study the Hsp72 protein to determine if its inhibition can prevent or delay the formation of tumors.

  • Jian Chen, PhD, will receive $180,000 to identify how specific changes increase a breast cancer cell’s ability migrate and eventually metastasize to other organs. Dr. Chen will focus on studying why the loss of cell surface protein ALK4 results in increased breast cancer cell movement and invasion.

  • Funding at Duke University also includes $45,000 in support of the 2015 Accelerating Anticancer Agent Development and Validation Workshop. The workshop will educate investigators on new approaches to developing or enhancing agents, or combinations of agents for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer, and provide real-life examples of how high quality data enable effective interactions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, Komen NCTC announced its plans to move the location of its signature event, Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure . Formerly hosted at Meredith College, in 2016 the 20th annual race, slated for Saturday, June 11, will be held at The Frontier in Research Triangle Park. Duke Cancer Institute will serve as local presenting sponsor. For more information, visit Susan G. Komen North Carolina Triangle to The Coast.