October 3, 2008

Breast cancer research gets $12 million boost from NCI

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Carlos Arteaga, M.D., directs VICC’s Breast Cancer Research Program, which received renewed funding from the National Institutes of Health. (photo by Joe Howell)

Breast cancer research gets $12 million boost from NCI

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Breast Cancer has received a new round of grant funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The NCI will provide $12 million over the next five years to support and expand Vanderbilt-Ingram's translational research efforts in breast cancer.

“We are grateful that the NCI has recognized the high quality of our research program and rewarded our team for the novel and promising avenues of research we are pursuing,” said Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Breast Cancer Research Program. “We received an outstanding priority score from our peers, which provides validation of the research directions and quality of our translational program.”

The NCI initiated organ-specific SPORE grants in 1992 to encourage translational research, which is designed to speed discoveries from the laboratory into treatment options in the clinic. This patient-centered research platform encompasses work by basic scientists, epidemiologists and clinicians and encourages collaboration.

Vanderbilt-Ingram received its first SPORE grant in Breast Cancer in 2002. The NCI provided more than $12 million over five years for research designed to improve the diagnosis, screening, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

The NCI estimates that 182,460 women and 1,990 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,480 women and 450 men will die from the disease.

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Breast Cancer SPORE comprises four novel initiatives focused on mechanisms of resistance to anti-estrogen therapy in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, use of the p63/p73 signaling axis as a target for treatment of triple negative or basal-type breast cancer, investigation of cellular mechanisms of bone quality in patients with metastatic breast cancer, and determination of genetic predictors of progression to invasive breast cancer in patients with premalignant breast disease.

The grant brings together 15 co-investigators from seven departments in the School of Medicine, spanning a breadth of basic science and clinical disciplines.

“Working as a team we want to make an impact on breast cancer research, treatment, detection and prevention worldwide,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of Vanderbilt-Ingram and a Breast Cancer SPORE researcher.

“The SPORE grants are critical to our mission of making a difference in the lives of cancer patients.”

Pietenpol noted that all three of Vanderbilt-Ingram's SPORE grants — in breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancer — have now been renewed by the NCI, which is a remarkable accomplishment among cancer centers.

“By securing renewed funding for Vanderbilt's Breast SPORE, Dr. Arteaga and his colleagues have demonstrated the importance and innovation of their work," said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research and interim dean of the School of Medicine. “And this type of groundbreaking research is critical in winning the battle against cancer.”