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Novel Approaches to Predict or Prevent the Influences of Environmental Chemicals on Breast Cancer Risk

A funding opportunity to expand biomonitoring of environmental exposures linked to breast cancer.

This initiative aims to expand the methods and application of biomonitoring beyond the chemicals, populations, and mechanistic pathways that have been well-studied so far and to explore: (1) biomonitoring and links to biological response endpoints in exposed populations and (2) the development/ discovery and application of a novel assay or marker to predict/ prevent risk of breast cancer.

CBCRP intends to fund up to three proposals for a maximum duration of three years and $430,000 maximum total direct costs each.

Download the RFP below:

Full Request for Proposals (RFP)

Application materials will be available through CBCRP's SmartSimple application and grant management system on December 1, 2022.

Applications must be submitted by 12:00 pm PT on Thursday, March 2, 2023. 

INFORMATIONAL WEBINARS

CBCRP offers online webinars for program-directed initiative funding opportunities. Join us for a description of the grant opportunity, and for engaging discussions on getting started and navigating the application materials. The webinars will be archived, but you are encouraged to sign up and participate in the live session.

We will be holding a webinar for potential applicants for this opportunity on Monday, December 12, 2022 at 01:00 pm PT.

Register here for the Applicant Webinar.

For questions or more information, contact CBCRP Program Officer Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D. at sharima.rasanayagam@ucop.edu.

Research Questions, Approaches and Methods 

To better understand the role chemicals play in causing breast cancer, CBCRP is calling for proposals in the area of “Novel Approaches to Predict or Prevent the Influences of Environmental Chemicals on Breast Cancer Risk” to cover two main topic areas that are further described below: 1) Biomonitoring and links to biological response endpoints in exposed populations and 2) Development/discovery and application of a novel assay or marker to predict/prevent risk of breast cancer. Accordingly, this RFP encourages applications that may address these research considerations:

  1. Expand the scope of inquiry in biomonitoring science beyond well-recognized and well-studied chemical exposures (such as estrogen-mimics) by identifying and characterizing chemical exposures with relevant biological activity linked to breast cancer.
  2. Characterize metabolome/exposome-related shifts associated with breast disease and mammary development using non-targeted analytic or artificial intelligence methods.
  3. Elucidate functional pathways linking exposure to biological response markers and disease, for spurring action based on human exposure.

Priority projects will use novel methods to address widespread chemical contacts, high exposures to vulnerable groups, or chemicals with high biological activity of relevance for breast cancer.

Topic 1: Biomonitoring in exposed populations

Conduct biomonitoring in populations exposed at high levels to chemicals of interest for breast cancer and use metabolomics or other -omics to identify associations between the exposure and early biological effects. The study should be carried out with relevant female cohorts that have existing chemical exposure data or biospecimens that can be leveraged for such a biomonitoring of exposure/biological response project.

The study should focus on measurements of endogenous processes that are breast-cancer-relevant, as identified by Schwarzman et al. 2015 and other CBCRP chemical testing grantees (see Appendix A of the RFP), or recently discovered cancer biomarkers such as exosome miRNA. If possible, investigators could develop a proposal that can also demonstrate the relationship in parallel in an animal model. The project should propose specific and definitive end points or outcomes, such as identification of early biological changes, and demonstrate the capability to measure them, so that subsequent studies can connect them to epidemiological studies examining chemical and biomarker response links to clinical breast cancer outcomes. Projects associated with predictive value on breast cancer risk for current use chemicals will be more favorable than research on chemicals banned many years ago.

Topic 2: Develop/discover and apply a novel assay

Develop and apply a novel assay that measures an exposure or biological response relevant to the development of breast cancer or discover a novel biomarker in existing datasets and test its predictive potential for breast cancer in animal or cell-based studies.

Projects will be considered novel if they target an endpoint for which there is currently no good measurement strategy or if they greatly improve on or validate an existing strategy (e.g., reliability, lower cost, more practical, prediction of disease potential, and more human relevance). Examples may include:

  1. Develop in vitro or short-term in vivo assays to detect biological activities associated with the characteristics of carcinogenic chemicals—e.g. altered development, chronic inflammation, genomic instability-- in mammary tissue. Assays targeting different breast cancer subtypes are critically needed.
  2. Develop a measurement of environmentally relevant mixtures, including vehicle exhaust, diesel, pesticide residues, indoor air (occupational setting), or air pollution that is more interpretable with respect to exposure source and biological effects than current tools. It is expected that the novel tool’s measures would be compared to breast cancer risk, metabolomic or transcriptomic marks, or contemporary occupational databases documenting health effects in a female cohort or in animal studies.
  3. Discover novel biomarkers linking disease and exposures using artificial intelligence or other bioinformatic tools (pattern recognition or cross-species or cross-strain similarities/differences in existing datasets) and test its predictive potential for breast cancer in animal or cell-based studies.

Project requirements

Advocacy involvement is a requirement for the research funded under this initiative. Applications should include a California community advocate affiliated with an advocacy and/or community organization with an interest in the area of biomonitoring, environmental exposures and breast cancer to be actively involved in the project

Proposals must include plans for dissemination and translation of newly discovered/developed methods and results. The applicants should address the likely relevance to both future research and current policy discussions. The applications should include plans to disseminate results to breast cancer advocates, policymakers, and the larger public, beyond publication in the scientific literature. The project team’s community advocate(s) should play a substantive role in formulating and helping carry out the proposed dissemination plan.

Project duration and budget cap

CBCRP intends to fund up to three Awards.

  • Maximum direct cost budget: $430,000
  • Project duration: 3 years