Special Research Initiatives

Focus on Environment, Disparities, and Primary Prevention

The Special Research Initiatives

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. In 2004, CBCRP launched the Special Research Initiatives (SRI), which devoted 30% of annual research funding to program-initiated research into critical but understudied questions in breast cancer. In total, 26 grants totaling about $21 million were awarded to address the environmental causes of breast cancer and the unequal burden of the disease.

California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives

In 2010, CBCRP decided to build on the success of the SRI and to devote 50% of funding to program-initiated research in some of the most challenging and under-researched areas in breast cancer. The goal is to fund research that not only increases knowledge about these questions, but also points to solutions that will reduce the suffering from breast cancer and move science closer to eliminating the disease.
Approximately $24 million will be dedicated to twenty directed, coordinated, and collaborative research projects to pursue the most compelling and promising approaches to:

  1. Identify and eliminate environmental causes of breast cancer.
  2. Identify and eliminate disparities/inequities in the burden of breast cancer in California.
  3. Population-level interventions (including policy research) on known or suspected breast cancer risk factors and protective measures.
  4. Targeted interventions for high-risk individuals, including new methods for identifying or assessing risk.

Developing the SRI Research Agenda

CBCRP issued a competitive Request for Proposal in 2010 to hire a researcher to manage and direct the project, and subsequently contracted with the University of California, San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE) to collaborate on this next phase of the SRI, called the California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives (CBCPI).

CBCRP and PRHE drafted a “Strategy Development Plan” to articulate a detailed and dynamic process for determining specific research questions to fund within the above four areas. Part of the Plan was to convene several expert groups to provide leadership and scientific expertise for CBCPI, including a Steering Committee and two sets of Strategy Advisors, as well as to gather input from a broader group of Stakeholders. Additional individuals are contracted to conduct expert assessments and systematic reviews to determine whether and how to move forward with research questions where more background is needed.

Steering Committee

Marion H. E. Kavanaugh-Lynch, MD, MPH

Director, California Breast Cancer Research Program
Office of the President, University of California

Tracey J. Woodruff, PhD, MPH
Principal Investigator/Co-Chair

Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and Director, Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment; Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco

Julia G. Brody,  PhD

Executive Director, Silent Spring Institute

Richard Clapp, DSc, MPH

Professor Emeritus
Department of Environmental Health
Boston University School of Public Health

Jeanne Rizzo, RN

President and CEO, Breast Cancer Fund

Saraswati Sukumar, PhD

Professor of Oncology and Professor of Pathology
Co-Director, Breast Cancer Program
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Johns Hopkins University

Engelberta (Beti) Thompson, PhD

Full Member and Associate Program Head
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

David R. Williams, PhD

Florence and Laura Norman Professor of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Marc Hurlbert, PhD
Ex-Officio Member

Executive Director, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade

Chandini Portteus, MPH(c)
Ex-Officio Member

Vice President, Research, Evaluation and Scientific Programs
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Medical & Scientific Affairs

Strategy Development Plan
The Steering Committee has finalized a Strategy Development Plan, detailing the process for the next four years of the SRI, and to lay the groundwork to expand the SRI research funding.  This plan has been approved by the California Breast Cancer Research Program.

Click here to view it.

Science Review

The first review of science in the new phase of the SRI will be conducted on the projects funded in the initial phase of the SRI to explore the process, study questions, lessons learned, and recommendations for future research from the PIs and others.

Input from Advocates, Community Members, and Scientists

Stakeholder involvement is a key component of the SRI, as in all of the CBCRP.  In addition to representation by advocates on the SRI leadership and advisory bodies, interested people will be engaged through several mechanisms, including ongoing solicitation of input through our websites, interactive webinars, and at our CBCRP Symposium.

We would like to hear from you! We are asking everyone on the CBCRP mailing list to provide their input periodically. If you are not yet on our list, please sign up! Send us an email with your name and address, and put "mailing list" in the subject line

We will send you periodic updates and links to get your input on SRI research directions.

Policy Research Initiatives

The CBCRP has also begun a Policy Research Initiatives (PRI) to fund public and private health policy research on issues related to prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer as well as research into the formulation of policy alternatives that would reduce disparities in the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of breast cancer.

SRI Funding Opportunities

While other CBCRP award types are released annually, SRI Calls for Application and grants are not routinely scheduled. In 2014, a new round of intermittent Calls for Applications will begin under this new research agenda – the California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives (CBCPI). The first opportunities will pursue successes and intriguing funding topics arising from the previous strategies and new research on address disparities and the environment. These will be followed by new efforts to research interventions for primary prevention at individual and population levels.

CBCPI funding will continue at least through 2015. All funding announcements will be sent to everyone on the CBCRP mailing list. If you are not yet on our list, please sign up! Send us an email with your name and address, and put "mailing list" in the subject line.

SRI Research Underway

In March 2008, the CBCRP Advisory Council reviewed the recommendations of the SRI Steering Committee and decided to pursue program-directed research areas. As of August 2011, 27 grants totaling about $22 million have been awarded to address the environmental causes of breast cancer and the unequal burden of the disease, and to move the SRI research agenda forward.

To read more about a particular grant, click on the grant title.

More Information

For our latest press releases and other announcements, please check our Media Center. For more information about the SRI, please contact Sharan Campleman at 888.313.2277 or email SRI@CABreastCancer.org.