Susan G. Komen®’s 2015 Breast Cancer Research Funding Targets Early- Career Investigators, New Therapies, Health Inequities and Metastatic Disease



Illinois Researchers Receive $707,500 in Research Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; DALLAS – Sept. 22, 2015 – Susan G. Komen, the world’s largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research, announced new grants to 124 researchers in 25 states and eight countries internationally, with about half of the grants targeted to early-career researchers squeezed by stagnation in federal research dollars.

The grants include $707,500 in new funding for research at three institutions in Illinois, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Illinois to $17,227,500 since 1982.

The 2015 research grants expand Komen’s ongoing commitment to funding early-career scientists, that is, recent graduates and those trying to establish independent research careers. This group has been especially hard hit by real-dollar declines of as much as 25 percent in federal research funding over the past decade.

“We committed two years ago to do all that we can to ensure that talented early-career investigators remain in the breast cancer research field, while continuing our support for established researchers,” said Komen President and CEO Judith A. Salerno, M.D., M.S. “We cannot afford to lose talented scientists to other fields for lack of funding.”

This year’s research slate brings Komen’s total research investment to more than $889 million since 1982, the largest of any nonprofit, and second only to the U.S. government.

Grants from Komen’s nearly $36 million research portfolio – including more than $17.6 million in grants awarded to early-career investigators – span the entire cancer continuum from prevention to treatments for aggressive and metastatic disease. These include:

  • 36 grants to improve understanding of metastatic breast cancer
  • 18 grants investigating how tumors develop drug resistance
  • 19 grants related to the study of triple negative breast cancer – one of the most aggressive forms of the disease
  • 15 grants working to identify and understand biological and socio-economic health inequities
  • 13 grants seeking to develop new and novel therapies


Komen’s Investments in Illinois

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide network of Affiliates, which direct 25 percent of locally raised funds to Komen’s national research program. The remaining 75 percent of net funds are invested into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

Since 1997, Komen Chicago has funded over $16 million to community programs, as well as small grants for technical assistance and capacity building, to serve local women and men. Komen Chicago also has contributed more than $4.6 million to Komen research.

“We are so proud to have the support of this community as we help our friends, coworkers and neighbors who are facing breast cancer, and work for continued progress against breast cancer through research,” said Susan Tybon, CEO of Komen Chicago.

In Illinois, more than $700,000 will be invested into projects that will further understanding of breast cancer metastasis and risk, and support other advances in breast cancer research.

  • David Lipps, Ph.D., of Northwestern University will receive $120,000 to conduct a phase II clinical trial to understand how different radiotherapy treatments impact the prevalence of shoulder disease, and thereby quality of life in breast cancer patients.
  • The Society of Surgical Oncology will receive $27,500 in support of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Scholar Award and a breast cancer specific session at SSO’s Annual Meeting, which provides a forum for cancer surgeons to discuss advances in breast cancer research and treatment. The funds will also support the development of guidelines regarding margin width and risk of cancer recurrence for patients who have a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and have undergone lumpectomy for treatment, developed in collaboration with the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).
  • Komen Scholar Olufunmilayo Olopade, M.D., FACP, of the University of Chicago will receive $200,000 to lead a large-scale study of women of African descent (specifically African-American women and women from West African nations) to better understand the effect of genetic and non-genetic factors on breast cancer risk, incidence of early onset breast cancer, and triple negative breast cancer among African women.
  • Abena Agyeman, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago will receive $180,000 to investigate the therapeutic potential and toxicity of drugs that inhibit the protein Hsp90, which aids in the growth of triple negative breast cancer.
  • Steve Lee, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago will receive $180,000 to test whether combining immunotherapeutic antibodies with radiation for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer can reduce mortality due to breast cancer recurrence and metastasis.

A full list of Komen’s 2015 research grants can be found here.*

In addition to funding breast cancer research, Komen has invested more than $1.95 billion into community health outreach and global programs that serve hundreds of thousands of women and men annually through breast cancer health and support programs that screen, educate and provide financial, medical and psychosocial assistance.

For more information about Komen’s mission investment, please visit 

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $889 million in research and provided $1.95 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs serving millions of people in more than 30 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

*Contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen.


Andrea Rader

Susan G. Komen