$1.6M Grant To Fund Breast Cancer Research

    The UCSD Rebecca and John Moores Cancer Center received a $1.14-million research and training award from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation this month, a sum that will support four separate researchers’ study of the development, spread and potential treatment of breast cancer.

    Komen for the Cure awarded $600,000 to professor of biology Randall S. Johnson. The donation will go toward funding Johnson’s project, “Hypoxic Response and Inflammation: Role in Breast Cancer Progression,” which will focus on the relationship between low oxygen levels in tumors and inflammation in breast cancer progression.

    Each of the other three researchers received $180,000 awards.

    Professor and chair of cellular and molecular medicine Marilyn Farquhar will use the funds for a project called “The Role of Giv/Girdin and G Proteins in Metastatic Progression of Breast Cancer.” Farquhar and her team will research the role played by a specific group of proteins in the spread of breast cancer.

    The funding will support research by postdoctoral fellow Mikel-Garcia Marcos in the area of endocrine therapy.

    Also performing research in the area of endocrine therapies for breast cancer will be postdoctoral fellow Weizhou Zhan, funded by the $180,000 awarded to professor of pharmacology and pathology Michael Karin, in UCSD’s Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction.

    That team will conduct their research under the “Role of lkk/Nf-kappab/BMi-1 in Mammary Carcinogenesis and Metastasis” grant, focusing on a group of enzymes that potentially affect the development and spread of breast cancer.

    Professor of medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Michael G. Rosenfeld also received $180,000 to fund the grant titled “Tumor-Associated Macrophage-Mediated Inflammatory Responses in Serm ‘Resistant’ Breast Cancer as a Therapeutic Target.” This award will support research by postdoctoral fellow Chunru Lin, who will study the role of inflammation in treatment-resistant breast cancer and as a possible target for therapy.

    The $1.14 million is part of the 2008 portfolio of grants being distributed by Komen for the Cure. The sum of the awards, which will support scientists in the United States as well as internationally, comes to a total of $100 million distributed throughout 81 universities and hospitals located in 27 states and five countries.

    Following a strict application process, Komen distributed the awards based on the scientific soundness of the received proposals.

    “The application process follows a pretty detailed procedure — we ask scientists, doctors and institutions to submit requests for funding with detail about what they’re studying and what they believe their study should answer,” Komen for the Cure Director of Communications Andrea Rader said. “This is peer reviewed — that is, a team of scientists, medical doctors and advocates meet to review what the applicant is proposing.”

    Komen for the Cure takes special interest in projects that are likely to provide concrete results and that can be more quickly translated into medical assistance for patients.

    “We base our judgments on several criteria, including whether the peer-review group believes that the science behind the proposal is sound,” Rader said.
    The grants awarded to the Moores Cancer Center researchers are the only research and training awards of their kind that Komen for the Cure has granted in San Diego this year.

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