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VICC investigators land Komen breast cancer research grants

Jul. 31, 2014, 9:17 AM

Two Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center investigators have received multi-year breast cancer research grants from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation.

Justin Balko, Ph.D., Pharm.D., research assistant professor of Medicine, won support for his research project which will use molecular profiling to prioritize adjuvant targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients. TNBC is one of the most aggressive and hard-to-treat forms of breast cancer.

Carlos Arteaga, M.D., left, with Justin Balko, Ph.D., Pharm.D., one of two investigators who recently received support from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Joan Garrett, Ph.D., research instructor in Medicine, will investigate how breast cancers optimize HER3 signaling to drive therapeutic resistance. HER3 is a tyrosine kinase receptor and breast cancers with alterations in HER3 are linked to worse survival for patients.

The Komen Career Catalyst Research (CCR) awards are three-year grants totaling $450,000 for each investigator. The CCR grants provide opportunities for young scientists to progress toward research independence.

Both investigators work in the laboratory of Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., Donna S. Hall Professor of Breast Cancer, associate director for Clinical Research at VICC, director of the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies (CCTT) and director of the Breast Cancer Program.

Arteaga is recognized as a world-renowned breast cancer investigator who is also providing training and guidance for the next generation of cancer researchers.

Garrett recently accepted a new post out of state. Arteaga said serving as a scientific and career mentor to young investigators is one of his priorities.

“In addition to providing leading-edge therapies for breast cancer patients, our Breast Cancer Program offers a superior training opportunity, with intensive mentorship, for talented young scientists,” said Arteaga.

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