Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Commits Nearly $58 Million in 2011 to Tackle Toughest Issues with New, Innovative Approaches to Breast Cancer Research

Global Breast Cancer Leader Focuses on Development of Breast Cancer Vaccine, Creating More Effective Therapies and Reducing Disparities in Treatments for African Americans and Other Ethnic Groups

April 14, 2011


DALLAS – Developing genetic interventions that target the immune system and creating personalized cancer vaccines are just two of more than 80 innovative research grants being funded this year by Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. The world’s largest breast cancer organization announced it will fund $55 million toward research grants at 56 institutions across the United States and internationally in 2011.

“Our goal at Komen is to fund research with the greatest potential to make a difference and save lives in the shortest period of time. That means putting our dollars toward cutting-edge research that is high-risk, with potentially huge rewards,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Komen for the Cure.

Komen is the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world, investing $610 million since 1982 and playing a role in funding every major advance in breast cancer science for the past three decades.

This year, 40 percent of Komen’s funding will be invested in projects that seek to understand the underlying origins of breast cancer and why it has the capacity to spread throughout the body. Nearly 22 percent will go toward early detection, and about 20 percent will be invested in new treatments. More than $1.2 million of Komen’s 2011 research commitment will be invested in projects outside the United States.

Highlights for 2011 include two Promise Grants of $6.5 million each awarded to: 

  •  University of California, San Francisco to test a novel treatment for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive form of breast cancer more often diagnosed in African-American women. In some patients, their own immune system can help the cancer grow and spread, and this research is aimed at finding ways to allow chemotherapy to work more effectively against TNBC and other aggressive forms of breast cancer.
  • Washington University in St. Louis to develop a personalized breast cancer vaccine to prevent recurrence. The research will use new technologies to identify unique tumor antigens—the genetic changes that make an individual’s breast cancer cells different from their normal cells. The new vaccine will harness the power of the patient’s own immune system to effectively destroy the breast cancer cells with fewer side effects.

“From understanding and treating aggressive diseases like inflammatory breast cancer, to overcoming disparities in care and outcomes, we continue to fund research that tackles the toughest issues in breast cancer,” said Komen President Elizabeth Thompson. “Komen has long been known for supporting the most innovative and far-reaching research, and that will continue in 2011 with this exciting slate of research projects.”

Of the $55 million, Komen is providing more than $6 million for fellowship training for bright young scientists, while nearly $12 million will be directed to projects seeking to overcome disparities in breast cancer outcomes among different population groups.

In addition, Komen has allocated nearly $3 million toward 33 grants to support patient support conferences and programs focusing on young women, women with metastatic disease, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and cancer-related legal issues, as well as important scientific conferences, both in the United States and globally. This brings the total grants package to $58 million.

“The projects we’re investing in today are critical to the momentum we’ve built during the last 30 years in our quest to understand, and ultimately solve, the many questions surrounding breast cancer,” said Eric Winer, M.D., Komen’s chief scientific advisor, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard University.

Following an exhaustive peer review process, the grants were approved by Komen’s Board of Directors upon the recommendation of Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board.

A complete list of 2011 grants designees can be found at All grants and awards are contingent upon receipt of a fully executed agreement.