California Breast Cancer Research Program Awards over $8.8 million to Researchers


Lyn Dunagan

June 16, 2009—Oakland, CA—The California Breast Cancer Research Program has initiated funding for nearly $8.8 million in research 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 168 applications; following a rigorous two-step evaluation project, 46 applications from 20 California institutions and community organizations were selected for funding.

The grants focus on topics including tumor and normal breast biology, causes, 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 2009 funding include:

  1. 2 grants to support collaborations between community-based organizations and “traditional” researchers to explore breast cancer topics of importance at the community level.
  2. 2 grants support translational projects to allow researchers to break through barriers and develop practical applications in the patient and community setting.
  3. 19 grants aim to foster career development and training in breast cancer research. Nine awards are to graduate students to complete their doctoral dissertations, and 10 awards are to postdoctoral fellows to advance their career development in key breast cancer topics.
  4. 19 grants are for innovative research (IDEA) topics to explore new avenues of investigation and encourage high-risk/high reward projects to make breakthroughs in our understanding of breast cancer.
  5. 2 grants are for renewals of previously-funded CBCRP IDEA projects to allow further development for especially successful research.
  6. 2 grants support meetings and conferences to disseminate research ideas and engage new scientists and breast cancer advocates towards a common purpose.

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 2009 Faith Fancher Research Award are Anna Nápoles-Springer (University of California, San Francisco) and Carmen Ortiz (Círculo de Vida) for their community collaborative project, Nuevo Amanecer: Promoting the Psychosocial Health of Latinas. This project addresses the issue of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services for Latinas diagnosed with breast cancer.  This collaboration will develop a community-based cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for newly diagnosed Spanish-speaking Latinas with breast cancer. The 12-week intervention (Nuevo Amanecer – A New Dawn) will be adapted from an evidence-based intervention for non-Latinas. The three-year program will be delivered by trained peers (Latina breast cancer survivors) in convenient community settings, through the Circulo de Vida in San Francisco’s Mission District

Tax Check-off Contributions Funding Research

Last year, California taxpayers donated $571,855 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:

Risk Factors and Breast Cancer Survival in Black/White women
Yani Lu, Ph.D., Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope
The goal of this postdoctoral fellowship project is to conduct an analysis of the Women’s Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences (Women’s CARE) study to see whether a variety of risk factors account for the racial disparities in breast cancer survival between black and white women. Risk factors to be analyzed in this study include: 1) family history of breast cancer, 2) body size measures (e.g., BMI), 3) physical activity, 4) reproductive factors (menarche, parity, age at pregnancy, and breastfeeding), 5) exogenous hormones (oral contraceptives and HRT).  The CARE study dataset is well-represented with African-Americans and offers a unique resource to study risk factors leading to disease disparities.

►Health Literacy, Self-Efficacy, and Informed Consent
Arash Naeim, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
This innovative project intends to shed some light on the interplay between low health literacy and low self-efficacy among older breast cancer patients. Patients with lower health literacy have trouble understanding and recalling complex medical information, and are less likely to be active participants in their medical care and participate in decision-making. Special attention will be given in this project to evaluate the role of patient companions (relatives or friends present during doctor visits), which have been shown to facilitate health care understanding.

►Identification of Fusion Transcripts in Basal Breast Cancer
Anguraj Sadanandam, Ph.D., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Genes that are normally separated on chromosomes can become joined in some cancer types, and these fusion genes may lead to a gene product with a critical disease-related function.  This postdoctoral fellowship will employ cutting-edge genomic technologies to search for gene fusions in a type of breast cancer (basal) that is difficult to treat effectively.  Recently, a significant fusion gene has been found in prostate cancer, so intensive efforts are underway to make similar discoveries for breast cancer sub-types.

P32: New Functional Target in Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis
Karin Staflin, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute
P32 is a poorly understood protein with multiple functions that is often found to be increased in tumors.  Reducing p32 impairs tumor growth and can inhibit brain metastasis in a breast tumor/brain metastasis animal model.  Brain metastases are among the most feared complications in breast cancer, but there are still no effective therapies. Thus, this postdoctoral fellowship project may open a new avenue to prevent or target this aspect of the disease.

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


Summary of Funded Awards for 2009

►Community Research Collaborations

Sister Survivor: Evaluating Best Practices in Social Support
Ashing-Giwa, Kimlin
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope
Tapp, Carolyn
Women of Color Breast Cancer Survivors Support Project

Nuevo Amanecer: Promoting the Psychosocial Health of Latinas
Nápoles-Springer, Anna
University of California, San Francisco
Ortiz, Carmen
Circulo de Vida Cancer Support and Resource Center

►Translational Research Awards

Breast Cancer Risk Reduction: A Patient-Doctor Intervention
Kaplan, Celia
University of California, San Francisco

Randomized Controlled Study of Soy on Breast Tissues
Wu, Anna H
University of Southern California

►Dissertation Awards

Understanding the role of GATA3 in breast cancer
Chou, Jonathan
University of California, San Francisco

The Role of Estrogen Receptor in Endocrine Resistance
Chan, Hei
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope

Substrate Profiling of Breast Cancer Related Proteases
Dix, Melissa
The Scripps Research Institute

A Genetic System for Identification of Mammary Stem Cells
Engle, Dannielle
The Salk Institute

Sound Speed Tomography for Early Breast Cancer Detection
Nebeker, Jakob
University of California, San Diego

Anxiety and Cognitive Processes as Risk Factors for Insomnia
Rissling, Michelle
University of California, San Diego

Diffusion-Weighted MRI in Monitoring Breast Cancer Treatment
Singer, Lisa
University of California, San Francisco

A Predictive Factor for Eribulin Treatment of Breast Cancer
Smith, Jennifer
University of California, Santa Barbara

Novel Akt Regulatory Factor PHLPP in Breast Cancer
Warfel, Noel
University of California, San Diego

►Postdoctoral Fellowships

Compounds Blocking Assembly of LRH-1 in Breast Cancer
Benod, Cindy
University of California, San Francisco

The Regulation of SATB1 in Metastatic Breast Cancer
Friesenhahn, Laurie
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Targeting MYC in Human Breast Cancer
Horiuchi, Dai
University of California, San Francisco

Role of Circadian Rhythm Gene Homolog PER3 in Breast Cancer
Jen, Kuang-Yu
University of California, San Francisco

Risk Factors and Breast Cancer Survival in Black/White Women
Lu, Yani
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope

Control of BRCA2-mediated Homologous Recombination
Meyer, Damon
University of California, Davis

Macrophages in Breast Cancer Patients of African Descent
Mukhtar, Rita
University of California, San Francisco

Chemerin as an Immunotherapeutic Agent in Breast Cancer
Pachynski, Russell
Palo Alto Institute for Research & Education

►Innovative, Exploratory & Developmental Awards (IDEA)

Breast Cancer Tumor-Stroma Interactions in an In Vivo Model
Borgstrom, Per
The Vaccine Research Institute of San Diego

A Molecular Strategy to Inhibit Breast Cancer Metastasis
Brodsky, Frances
University of California, San Francisco

Podocalyxin as a Basal Like Breast Cancer Stem Cell Marker
Casey, Graham
University of Southern California

Reducing Surgical Morbidity of Breast Cancer Staging
Chen, Steven
University of California, Davis

Finding BRCA1 Ubiquitinated Substrates by Protein Microarray
del Rincon, Sonia
Burnham Institute for Medical Research

Combating Breast Cancer with the Wellderly Immune Repertoire
Felding-Habermann, Brunhilde
The Scripps Research Institute

Novel Tumor Suppressors in Breast Development and Cancer
Fuller, Margaret
Stanford University

Antibody-Based Targeting of Breast Cancer Stem Cells
Gottstein, Claudia
University of California, Santa Barbara

Regulation of Breast Cancer Invasiveness by INSL4 Signaling
Hsu, Sheau Yu (Teddy)
Stanford University

Patient and Clinician Knowledge of Breast Cancer Lymphedema
Kwan, Marilyn
Kaiser Foundation Research Institute

Health Literacy, Self-Efficacy, and Informed Consent
Naeim, Arash
University of California, Los Angeles

Metabolite Imaging to Identify Drug Resistant Breast Cancer
Northen, Trent
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Survival in De Novo and Recurrent Metastatic Breast Cancer
Pal, Sumanta
Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope

Extranuclear Estrogen Receptors in Breast Cancer Progression
Pietras, Richard
University of California, Los Angeles

Discovery of Fusion Genes in Breast Cancer
Pollack, Jonathan
Stanford University

Role of p68 in Breast Cancer
Wang, Daojing
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The Role of mLEEK in the Induction of Grp78 in Breast Cancer
Wong, Albert
Stanford University

Targeting DNA Repair Function of Breast Cancer Stem Cells
Wu, Xiaohua
The Scripps Research Institute

Inhibitors of Condensin I as Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer
Yokomori, Kyoko
University of California, Irvine

IDEA-competitive renewals

Modulation of Breast Cancer Stem Cell Response to Radiation
Pajonk, Frank
University of California, Los Angeles

Stroma Expression Patterns in Breast Cancer
West, Robert
Palo Alto Institute for Research & Education

Joining Forces Conference Awards

Mammary Gland Evaluation and Risk Assessment
Kushi, Lawrence
University of California, San Francisco
6th Symposium on the Intraductal Approach to Breast Cancer
Mills, Dixie
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation

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 860 grants to 98 scientific institutions and community entities, totaling over $205 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