Massive Grant Will Fund Breast Cancer Research Across Disciplines

More than $4 million went to Massachusetts researchers from five institutions.


Dana-Farber photo by Dana Guth

Grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, totaling more than $4 million, will enable 13 Massachusetts researchers from five institutions to attack breast cancer from all angles.

The local awards are only a drop in the bucket for the Komen Foundation, which announced Monday almost $33 million in grant funding for researchers in 23 states and seven countries. The funding, coming just ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is intended to further the group’s goal of cutting breast cancer deaths in half within the next 10 years.

“Not only will these grants accelerate our understanding of key areas in breast cancer research, but they include funding for early-career investigators,” Komen President and CEO Judy Salerno said in a statement. “As federal research dollars become increasingly difficult to secure, these awards give promising young researchers an opportunity to establish their careers, and help ensure breakthrough breast cancer research continues for years to come.”

The Massachusetts grants will finance breast cancer research focused on everything from weight loss to DNA repair. The money will be divided among researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Broad Institute, and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Specific projects include:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ($2,380,000 in total)

  • Identifying and testing therapies for triple negative breast cancer
  • Studying the relationship between the immune system and breast tumors
  • Better understanding treatment resistance in estrogen receptor-positive metastatic and HER2-positive breast cancers, and developing new treatments
  • Examining whether weight loss can reduce the risk of disease recurrence
  • Studying the formation of a certain group of proteins, and their role in breast cancer

Massachusetts General Hospital ($987,279 in total)

  • Studying how breast cancer metastasizes to the brain, with the hope of preventing that spread
  • Identifying DNA repair’s role in breast cancer, and developing treatments based on that work
  • Understanding how and why certain normal cells can become cancerous, and if there’s a way to reverse that phenomenon
  • Developing treatment methods based on tumor cells in the blood

University of Massachusetts Amherst ($450,000)

  • Beginning a clinical trial focused on helping breast cancer survivors use fitness trackers to embrace physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior

The Broad Institute ($375,000)

  • Studying metastatic breast cancer’s molecular and genetic differences in women of varying ages

Boston Children’s Hospital ($180,000)

  • Examining how the shape of a certain type of protein affects breast cancer status, and eventually developing drugs that target those proteins