Introducing Winter 2021 Breakthroughs


A picture of the cover of the Winter 2021 Breakthroughs Magazine

Winter 2021 Breakthroughs: Finding the Answers, Together

It takes all of us—scientists, physicians, nurses, donors, volunteers, patients, and families—to defeat an enemy as formidable as cancer.

Heather Paradis fits into many of those categories—nurse practitioner, donor, volunteer, and caregiver of a family member. I know you will be inspired by the story of how she is using all of her experiences to help others.

In this issue of Breakthroughs, you will also learn about a $3.5 million grant that Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) has received from the National Cancer Institute to develop new ways to understand why certain cancers are more common and more aggressive among some populations. This grant builds on DCI’s long-standing efforts in health disparities, some of which was previously funded by a DCI Pilot Grant and grants from the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina. When you hear good news about large federal grant awards, what often isn’t mentioned is the years of work the researchers devoted to gathering enough data to win them. That early work is where philanthropy often plays a key role.

You’ll also read here about the latest in new treatments for breast cancer, even for advanced disease. One such new treatment now in clinical trials, lasofoxifene, had made it to the clinic only because of the inspiration and work of several dedicated Duke trainees and scientists.

Progress like this wouldn’t be possible without all of us doing our part. Will you please join us?

Kastan Signature
Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD
Executive Director, Duke Cancer Institute
Professor of Pediatrics
William and Jane Shingleton Professor, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

This message appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Breakthroughs magazine. Breakthroughs is produced twice yearly by Duke Cancer Institute Office of Development.

A microscopic image of gut bacteria

A Call to Respond to COVID-19

Two Duke researchers set out to learn whether probiotics can help protect against COVID-19.

Heather Paradis stands outside in front of the Duke Cancer Center
Donor and volunteer Heather Paradis in front of the Duke Cancer Center. Photo by Ken Huth.

Fighting on Both Sides of Cancer Care

Retired Duke cancer nurse Heather Paradis has cared for strangers with cancer as well as her late husband, who succumbed to leukemia in 2018. 

Boats sit in a harbor, transparent hexagons overlay the image

The Drug Guy Changes Course

In 2017, Duke breast cancer researcher Donald McDonnell  shifted from “studying the breast cancer cell in a vacuum” to looking at therapies in the context of the immune system. Early findings from his team of collaborators show promise for finding treatments that are more targeted and effective than ever before.

graphic of an estrogen receptor on/off switch within a cancer tumor cell

A Bench-to-Bedside Story

The journey of a new drug for advanced breast cancer.

Brandy Chieco smiles in front of a blurry Duke Hospital.
Brandy Chieco gives monthly to Duke Cancer Institute to honor the memory of her mom and to help others who are facing cancer. Photo by Alex Boerner.

A Constant Presence

Duke employee Brandy Chieco gives monthly to Duke Cancer Institute to honor the memory of her mom and to help others who are facing cancer. 

A young woman plays lacrosse

A Virtual All Star Lacrosse Team

To honor former Duke lacrosse coach Tony Cullen, former players founded a memorial scholarship fund and established an annual all star lacrosse game to raise money for the scholarship.

Binita Chakraborty picks up a vial in a lab.

A Detour into Melanoma

Research at Duke prompted a clinical trial to study a combination therapy (an anti-estrogen drug plus a PD-1 inhibitor) in patients with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and gastric (stomach) cancer. 

Katrina Cooke and her sons, Logan and Camden, at her 140th infusion treatment
Katrina Cooke and her sons, Logan and Camden, at her 140th infusion treatment.

Counting on a Cure

After a diagnosis in 2011 of metastatic breast cancer—cancer that has spread beyond the breast and to distant organs—Katrina Cooke has already had many more years with her two sons—now 12 and 14—than she ever thought possible.

This page was reviewed on 01/07/2021