Susan G. Komen® announces $31 million in 2017 funding for 98 new breast cancer research grants, with focus on aggressive and metastatic cancers

Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced 2017 research funding of $30.7 million for 98 research grants, with a focus on new treatments and understanding of the most lethal forms and stages of breast cancer. Komen funding to institutions in 27 states and 7 countries also includes research into new screening technologies, treatments for metastatic and aggressive types of breast cancer and disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

The grants include $1,125,000 in new funding for research at one institution in Michigan bringing Komen’s total research investment in Michigan to $28,253,700 since 1982.

“We are focused on new treatments, ways to overcome drug resistance in breast cancer patients, and a better understanding of how and why breast cancer spreads, so that we can better treat metastatic breast cancer or prevent it all together,” said Ellen Willmott, interim president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “This focus on aggressive and metastatic disease is the foundation of our Bold Goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.”

Metastatic breast cancer – which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones or lungs – is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. More than 154,000 women are living with metastatic disease in the U.S. today. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen is hoping to reduce breast cancer deaths dramatically in the U.S.

This year’s funding also includes $17.6 million to early-career investigators. “Funding for early-career researchers ensures a continuum of breast cancer research, across generations, which is critical in a time of tightening federal research dollars,” Willmott said.

Komen’s 2017 portfolio includes*:

  • 37 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to better treat it or prevent it;
  • 37 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, inflammatory breast cancer luminal B, and ER-positive recurrent breast cancer).
  • 59 grants focused on new therapies, including 10 for targeted therapies and 20 for drug development
  • 24 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • 9 on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and 2 involving Big Data

*Eds Note: Numbers may add to more than 98 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.

Komen’s Investments in Michigan
Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which directs 25 percent of funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while investing the remaining 75 percent into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

Since 1997, Komen Michigan has funded $7,574,997 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $3,916,123 to Komen research.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Michigan, both on the ground and through research,” said Erica Bills, Komen Michigan Executive Director.

In Michigan, researchers will receive…

University of Michigan

Monika Burness, M.D., will receive $450,000 to determine if blocking two proteins, RAD51 and PARP, could help treat triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) by killing cancer stem cells (CSCs). RAD51 and PARP help repair damaged DNA in CSCs, allowing these cells to survive. By blocking both proteins, treatment could more effectively kill CSCs and provide a new treatment for TNBC.

Komen Scholar Daniel Hayes, M.D., will receive $300,000 to continue his work developing and testing a new device to collect circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Dr. Hayes will test the device by conducting a pilot trial in patients with metastatic breast cancer. The goal is to create a “liquid (blood) biopsy” technique to monitor patients on clinical trials and under routine care.

Komen Scholar Lori Pierce, M.D., will receive $375,000 to continue to evaluate the use of a clinical test, called RadiotypeDX, as a way to identify tumors that will be resistant to radiation.  Dr. Pierce will also work to develop new ways to overcome resistance to radiation in aggressive breast cancers, and will test if a new inhibitor, VT-464, can improve responses to radiation treatment.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $956 million since opening its doors in 1982, the largest of any nonprofit and second only to 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 $2.1 billion has been invested in community programs that provide education, screening and treatment support.

Michigan also has 3 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years, including a grant to Scientific Advisory Board member Lisa Newman, M.D., MPH.

About Susan G. Komen
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization outside of the federal government, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $956 million in research and provided more than $2.1 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs. Komen has worked in more than 60 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen.