Komen Unveils $26 Million Investment in Research Focused on Metastatic Breast Cancer and New Treatments


  • The Wistar Institute among the researchers in Komen Philadelphia’s service area receiving grants totaling $635,000.
  • Latest grants brings Komen’s total research investment to more than $1 BILLION.

On September 13, 2019, Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, announced $26 million in funding for new research projects that focus on metastatic breast cancer, developing new, more-effective treatments, and addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes. This year’s grant slate focuses on key areas that will help the organization achieve its Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.

“In order to save more lives, we must address the main cause of breast cancer deaths: metastatic breast cancer,” said George Sledge, Susan G. Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

“We are pleased to support research aimed at preventing breast cancers from metastasizing (spreading) and developing new, more effective treatments for metastatic disease,” added Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology, at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Among the 60 grants Komen awarded, 38 grants totaling more than $17.5 million are focused on better understanding and treating metastatic breast cancer.

More than an estimated 154,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer – the most advanced stage of breast cancer that has spread outside the breast, often to the brain, bones, liver and lungs. Currently, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, and it is responsible for almost all the 42,000 breast cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

In addition to those focused on metastatic breast cancer, grants were also given to researchers who are developing new therapies for breast cancer including aggressive subtypes such as triple negative breast cancer, investigating drug resistance, and addressing health disparities in breast cancer outcomes among specific communities.

“Breast cancer does not affect everyone equally and with the grants we’re funding this year, we’re moving closer to new therapies for aggressive forms of cancer, understanding why treatment doesn’t work in some patients and making sure everyone has access to the care they need,” said Paula Schneider, CEO, Susan G. Komen.  

2019 Research Grant Portfolio

Komen’s 2019 portfolio includes the following (NOTE: Numbers add to more than 60 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.)

60 grants totaling $25,689,384. 

  • Metastatic breast cancer: 38 grants totaling $17,504,384 are focused on better understanding metastasis – why it occurs and how to prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer
  • New therapies: 39 grants totaling $15,579,815 for catalyzing the development of new therapies for all stages of breast cancer
  • Triple-Negative breast cancer: 16 grants looking into novel treatments for triple negative breast cancer
  • Drug resistance: 14 grants totaling $6,298,750 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • Disparities: 9 grants focused on disparities in breast cancer outcomes
  • Big data: 5 that apply big data technology (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) to breast cancer research

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $1 billion

Since opening its doors in 1982 Komen has invested more than $1 billion in breast cancer research, including $210 million for research focused on metastatic breast cancer. Since our inception, we have funded more breast cancer research than any other non-profit outside of the U.S. government. In addition to research, Komen and its nationwide network of Affiliates serve women and men in thousands of communities. To date, more than $2.3 billion has been invested in efforts to provide critical education and real-time support to people in communities across the country.

Investments in the Komen Philadelphia service area

Komen’s research grant program is supported in part by funds raised by the organization’s nationwide network of Affiliates. Each year, Komen Philadelphia and Affiliates nationwide contribute at least 25 percent of local funds raised to research, while the remainder of their funds help provide vital education and real-time support to people facing breast cancer today in their communities. Over the past 27 years—since the first Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure—Komen Philadelphia has distributed approximately $63 million in grants to local organizations, funding of more than 180,500 mammograms for women in need in its service area, and contribution of approximately $27.5 million to breast cancer research.

Komen’s latest  funding supporting research happening in Komen Philadelphia’s 15-county service area includes the following.

The Wistar Institute. Zachary Schug, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to investigate how to block brain metastases by disrupting metabolism. His studies indicate that metastatic breast cancer cells use a different energy source than the original tumor, which can be a drug target for metastases. His goal is to “starve” brain metastases of this energy source.

American Association for Cancer Research. The American Association for Cancer Research will receive $50,000 to support breast cancer research education sessions at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS). At SABCS, scientists and clinicians will discuss the latest advances in breast cancer research, treatment, prevention and health disparities and recognize the accomplishments of their peers. Scientific meetings like SABCS stimulate collaborations and partnerships among the leaders of the scientific and patient advocacy communities worldwide. The American Association for Cancer Research received $60,000 to support the 11th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. This conference brings together physicians, scientists, patient advocates, health care professionals and health care leaders to discuss the latest research aimed at understanding and eliminating the disparities in cancer that represent a major public health challenge in our country. The American Association for Cancer Research also received $75,000 to support breast cancer research education sessions at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) and 2019 Modernizing Population Sciences in the Digital Age Meeting. At SABCS, scientists and clinicians discussed the latest advances in breast cancer research, treatment, prevention and health disparities. The Modernizing Population Sciences in the Digital Age Meeting will train researchers in how “big data” can be used to improve our understanding  of cancer at a population-level.

The full list of Komen’s 2018-2019 (FY19) Funded Awards is available here. (Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen.)

Komen’s 360-degree approach to ending breast cancer

“No one does what Komen does to fight breast cancer on every level,” said Elaine I. Grobman, CEO, Komen Philadelphia. “We call it the 360-degree approach—and what it means is we apply a full focus on both saving lives today and driving breakthroughs in the labs that will, one day, ensure that any person diagnosed with breast cancer will be able to not only survive breast cancer but enjoy a quality of life after their diagnosis. From Komen Philadelphia’s community programs that work to give all women access to the best breast health care to these latest research grants, we are accelerating along the path to the world we envision.” 

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen is the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has an unmatched, comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide.  We advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information.  Born out of a promise between two sisters, Susan G. Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures.



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