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IU Simon Cancer Center researchers awarded Komen for the Cure grants


INDIANAPOLIS — Five Indiana University cancer researchers and a one-of-a-kind tissue bank were awarded grant funding of more than $1.4 million from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Komen announced Thursday it was awarding $4.5 million in research funding nationally to more fully understand the role that environmental issues play in breast cancer development. The grants will be part of the $42 million Komen will award in 2013 for cancer research.

The 2013 research grants to Indiana University School of Medicine faculty and researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center will focus on breast cancer biology and recurrence. The grants include:

  • $225,000 to Komen Scholar Sunil Badve, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, to develop genetic tests that can more accurately predict the likelihood of recurrence and long-term prognosis for people with estrogen receptor positive tumors. Estrogen receptor expression is seen in about 65 to 70 percent of breast cancer cases, and those tumors can recur many years after initial treatment.
  • $225,000 to Komen Scholar Theresa Guise, M.D., Jerry W. and Peggy S. Throgmartin Professor of Oncology and professor of medicine, to focus on identifying the mechanisms causing breast cancer-associated muscle dysfunction and how they relate to decreases in muscle mass, commonly labeled as “wasting.” Dr. Guise aims to understand and prevent this condition, improving the quality of life for breast cancer patients.
  • $175,000 to Komen Scholar Kathy Miller, M.D., Ballve Lantero Scholar in Oncology and associate professor of medicine, for a clinical trial to investigate novel therapies that could prevent recurrence of triple negative breast cancer after a woman’s initial treatment for the disease. Three out of five women with triple negative breast cancer will have a recurrence within two years of their initial treatment.
  • $225,000 to Komen Scholar Harikrishna Nakshatri, Ph.D., Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research and professor of surgery and biochemistry, to study a class of proteins knows as “dependence receptors” in estrogen positive tumors that, when paired with specific partner proteins, aid in the proliferation of cancer cells. By identifying the mechanisms governing the action of these receptors, it is hoped that inhibitors may be developed to interrupt this pairing, thereby stopping tumor growth in estrogen positive breast cancers.
  • $62,500 to Komen Scholar Bryan Schneider, M.D., associate professor of medicine and of medical and molecular genetics, for continuing work to identify genetic markers that will help doctors identify patients who will have adverse reactions (such as heart disease and numbness in the extremities) to taxane therapies for breast cancer. These early identifications will prevent doctors from administering a therapy that may decrease a patient’s quality of life or result in a life-threatening situation.
  • $500,000 to the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center to fund the collection of normal breast tissue from women in Kenya to help understand the underlying biology and genetic issues that lead to more aggressive forms of breast cancer, and higher mortality rates from breast cancer, in women of African descent.

Komen is also granting additional funding in 2013 for operations at the tissue bank, which is the only repository for healthy breast cancer tissue in the world. This bank allows global researchers to better understand how breast cancer develops by comparing healthy tissue to diseased tissue. The Komen Tissue Bank was established in 2007 with a $1 million grant from Susan G. Komen to collect and share healthy breast tissue samples donated by volunteers. Since 2007, the bank has collected more than 3,000 tissue samples, in addition to DNA and blood samples, helped by more than $7.5 million in Komen funding.