California Breast Cancer Research Program Awards $8.1 million to Researchers


Lyn Dunagan

July 31, 2010—Oakland, CA—The California Breast Cancer Research Program has initiated funding for $8.1 million in grants to California researchers seeking better ways to detect, treat, and prevent breast cancer; and to improve the quality of life for those affected by the disease. The program received 163 applications; following a rigorous two-step evaluation project, 34 applications from 17 California institutions and community organizations were selected for funding.

These newly funded grants focus on topics including tumor and normal breast biology, prevention strategies, improvements in detection and treatment, and ways to reduce the impact of breast cancer within the community and for the individual.

Highlights of CBCRP’s 2010 funding include:

Faith Fancher Research Award

Faith Fancher was a long-time television news anchor and personality with KTVU (Oakland) who waged a very public battle against breast cancer. She also was the founding member of the CBCRP Executive Team, which formed in 2001 to help raise the visibility and fundraising profile of our program. Faith passed away in October 2003 after a six-year struggle with breast cancer. In Faith's honor, and to commemorate all that Faith Fancher did for breast cancer education and research, we have created the annual Faith Fancher Research award, which will be presented to a researcher, institution, or community-based organization whose work reflects those values that Faith held most closely and extends the work that Faith did for all women facing breast cancer.

The recipients of the 2010 Faith Fancher Research Awardare Jeffrey Belkora (University of California, San Francisco) and Sara O’Donnell (Mendocino Cancer Resource Center) for their community collaborative project, Recording Medical Visits for People with Breast Cancer. Women diagnosed with breast cancer often struggle to ask questions and absorb, understand, and act upon the information they get from doctors.  The aim of this project is to help patients develop a list of questions prior to major medical visits, and providing audio-recordings and/or plain language summaries of consultations. Although based in rural Mendocino County, this study will address barriers to the broader adoption of interventions that help patients and doctors exchange information more effectively. The findings will be relevant to support programs focused on improving educational and quality of life outcomes for over 250,000 people making breast cancer treatment decisions every year.

Tax Check-off Contributions Funding Research

Last year, California taxpayers donated $593,276 to the California Breast Cancer Research Program through the voluntary check-off area on their state income taxes. That money is earmarked specifically for research projects that the CBCRP advisory council believes will be of specific interest to Californians. Four new awards will receive Tax Check-off funding:

Measuring Real-World Breast Cancer Outcomes
Allison Kurian, M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine
At this time, there are no research databases which allow the study of “real-world” breast cancer care across the large populations, cancer registries lack detail about treatment, clinical trials enroll only 3% of patients, and studies from single health systems do not capture how much care truly varies.  This “translational award” study aims to transform electronic health records (EHR) into a format that measures breast cancer outcomes. The research tool, “OncoShare”, extracts de-identified data from the EHRs of all patients receiving breast cancer care at Stanford and Palo Alto Medical Foundation from 2006-2009. A unique innovation in OncoShare is its ability to “mine” physician’s clinic visit notes through Natural Language Processing technology, with the goal of obtaining details of clinical decision-making.

Light at Night and Breast Cancer Risk in California Teachers
Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., Cancer Prevention Institute of California
It has been proposed that exposure to light at night (LAN) can increase the risk of breast cancer by disrupting normal circadian rhythms. This IDEA grant seeks to take advantage of a unique resource, the California Teachers Study (CTS) cohort, and newly-available satellite data on night-time illumination, to develop methods of estimating individual LAN exposure levels, and to then evaluate the relationship between LAN exposure and breast cancer risk, taking into account existing data on established risk factors for breast cancer.

Targeting Brain Metastasis with a Cell-based Approach
Mihaela Lorger, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute
Microglia, which originate from hematopoietic stem cells, provides the microenvironment essential for the growth of cancer cells that metastasize to the brain. Since these cells are of hematopoietic origin, these cells can also be used to deliver drugs or anti-tumor elements to brain. Dr. Lorger will test whether the antibiotic, Minocycline, or special liposomes can deplete brain microglia.  She will also determine the feasibility of delivering anti-tumor drugs to brain mets via injected stem cells.

Salivary Biomarkers for Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Lei Zhang, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
The goal of this project is to identify clinically discriminatory biomarkers in saliva for early detection of breast cancer.  Preliminary microarray experiments have identified eight mRNA candidates in salivary samples from breast cancer (Stage IIB and III).  The current project seeks to determine the potential for these biomarkers to detect pre-invasive (DCIS) and early breast cancer (Stages I and IIA). 

Details about all of the funded projects, including abstracts may be found at:


Summary of Funded Awards for 2010

►Community Research Collaborations

Recording Medical Visits for People with Breast Cancer
Belkora, Jeffrey
University of California, San Francisco
O’Donnell, Sara
Mendocino Cancer Resource Center

Increasing Mammography Screening Among Native Women
von Friederichs-Fitzwater, Marlene
University of California, Davis
Navarro, Linda
Turtle Health Foundation

►Translational Research Awards

Measuring Real-World Breast Cancer Outcomes
Kurian, Allison
Stanford University School of Medicine

Towards Highly Effective Inactivation of HER2-HER3 Signaling
Moasser, Mark
University of California, San Francisco

►Dissertation Awards

Targeting Breast Tumor Stem Cells with Cell Cycle Inhibitors
Huskey, Noelle
University of California, San Francisco

Electronics for High Resolution Breast-Dedicated PET
Lau, Frances
Stanford University

MRI Registration for Therapy Evaluation and Annual Screening
Lin, Muqing
University of California, Irvine

A Novel Mediator of AI Resistance in Breast Cancer
Petrossian, Karineh
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope

►Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Role of ANCCA in Tamoxifen Resistant Breast Cancer
Andrews, Nicolas
University of California, Davis

MRI Guided Focused Ultrasound in Breast Cancer Treatment
Bitton, Rachel
Stanford University

Hec1 Inhibitor Synergizes With Taxol in Breast Cancer
Goldblatt, Erin
University of California, Irvine

The Role of microRNAs in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Kusdra, Leonard
University of California, San Francisco

The Role of Twist1 in Epithelial-mesenchymal Transition
Tsai, Jeff
University of California, San Diego

The Role of Clim Proteins in Breast Cancer
Verma, Suman
University of California, Irvine

►Innovative, Exploratory & Developmental Awards (IDEA)

Reelin Signaling Involvement in Breast Cancer Cell Migration
Carpenter, Ellen
University of California, Los Angeles

Inhibiting Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis with Cilengitide
Felding-Habermann, Brunhilde
Scripps Research Institute

Quality of Mammography Facilities Serving Vulnerable Women
Goldman, Lauren
University of California, San Francisco

Receptor Re-expression in ER and PR Negative Breast Cancer
Holmes, Dennis
University of Southern California

Multimarker miR Blood Assay for Breast Cancer Detection
Hoon, David
John Wayne Cancer Institute

p97 as a Therapeutic Target in Breast Cancer Metastasis
Latterich, Martin
Proteomics Research Institute for Systems Medicine

Enhancing Trastuzumab Therapy with an NK Activating Antibody
Levy, Ronald
Stanford University

Targeting Brain Metastasis with a Cell-based Approach
Lorger, Mihaela
Scripps Research Institute

Local Adipocyte Function in Breast Cancer
Mueller, Barbara
Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

Stromal MRI Features & Gene Expression as Predictors of Outcome
Park, Catherine
University of California, San Francisco

New Estrogen Receptor Downregulators for Breast Cancer
Pietras, Richard
University of California, Los Angeles

HER2 Co-Amplified Genes and Treatment Response
Press, Michael
University of Southern California

Light at Night and Breast Cancer Risk in California Teachers
Reynolds, Peggy
Cancer Prevention Institute of California

Myeloperoxidase Mediated Protection in Breast Cancer
Reynolds, Wanda
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Inhibiting Mutation to Prevent and Treat Breast Cancer
Romesberg, Floyd
Scripps Research Institute

Complement-mediated Stem Cell Recruitment to Breast Cancer
Schraufstatter, Ingrid
Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

Breast Cancer Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Response with miRNA
Wang, Shizhen Emily
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope

Vitamin D and Breast Cancer Survival
Wang, Wei
Cancer Prevention Institute of California

Salivary Biomarkers for Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Zhang, Lei
University of California, Los Angeles

Joining Forces Conference Award

2010 National Latino Cancer Summit
Duron, Ysabel
Latinas Contra Cancer


About the California Breast Cancer Research Program:
The mission of the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) is to eliminate breast cancer by leading innovation in research, communication, and collaboration in the California scientific and lay communities.

Created by the State Legislature in 1993, the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) is the largest state-funded breast cancer research program in the nation and is administered by the University of California, Office of the President. To date, the CBCRP has awarded 894 grants to 101 scientific institutions and community entities, totaling more than $213 million for research in California to prevent, treat, and cure breast cancer. Awards include traditional investigator-initiated projects, community-based collaborative research projects, and program-directed special research initiatives. Grants from the CBCRP fill gaps not traditionally funded by other research programs to jump-start new areas of investigation that push the boundaries of research and foster new collaborations. The CBCRP is funded through the voluntary tax check-off program on personal income tax form 540, a portion of the state tobacco tax, and individual contributions. For more information, call 888 313-2277, or visit