Susan G. Komen® Announces $31 Million in 2017 Funding for 98 New Breast Cancer Research Grants, with Focus on Aggressive and Metastatic Cancers

California Researchers Receive $1,965,000 in Research Funding

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 $1,965,000 new funding for research at five institutions in California, bringing Komen’s total research investment in California to $79,442,051 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 California

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 1996, Komen San Diego has funded $13,095,259 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $5,665,144 to Komen research since 1997.

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in California, both on the ground and through research,” said Shaina Gross, president and CEO, Susan G. Komen San Diego.

In California, researchers will receive…

Salk Institute

Komen Scholar Geoffrey Wahl, Ph.D., will receive $550,000 to continue to study the signaling pathways that help create and maintain mammary stem cells.  By understanding these pathways and how disrupting them contributes to the development of breast cancer, Dr. Wahl is working to identify new treatment targets.

Stanford University

Jennifer Caswell-Jin, M.D., will receive $180,000 to examine the genetic mutations in breast tumors that occur over the course of HER2-targeted treatment, with the goal of understanding how these tumors become resistant to treatment over time. The results of this study could help predict which treatments are likely to be the most effective for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Joshua Gruber, M.D. Ph.D., will receive $180,000 to study PD-H1, a protein on the outside of immune cells. Studies show PD-H1 on breast cancer cells reduces the immune attack against the breast cancer cells. Dr. Gruber will investigate how the immune response is regulated by PD-H1 in different types of breast cancer, which may lead to new approaches to predict and prevent breast cancer.

Komen Chief Scientific Advisor

George Sledge, Jr., M.D., will receive $400,000 to study two new technologies that may improve the clinical use of circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The first has the potential to noninvasively measure individual CTCs in real-time, which may help with earlier detection of metastasis. The second measures the cancer-related proteins in CTCs, which could be used to measure the effects of targeted therapies.

University of California, San Francisco

Komen Scholar Alan Ashworth, Ph.D., will receive $200,000 to continue his genomics research to identify biomarkers and develop drugs that target these new biomarkers. This could provide better treatment options and improve outcomes for female and male breast cancer patients. 

University of California, Los Angeles 

Komen Scholar Patricia Ganz, M.D., will receive $340,000 to evaluate barriers to high-quality survivorship care, such as long-term and late effects of breast cancer treatment. Studies will lead to the development of a toolkit for clinical practice. This should improve communication between doctors and patients to better manage symptoms and improve patient outcomes.  

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation will receive $15,000 to support The 9th International Symposium on the Breast, which brings together a multidisciplinary and international group of revolutionary researchers, clinical scientists, and advocates, and challenges participants to formulate new technical approaches to studying the human breast and the development of malignancy. 

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.

In addition, California also has 21 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years, including grants to Komen Scholars Alan Ashworth, B.Sc., Ph.D., FRS, Anna Napoles, Ph.D., MPH, Melinda Telli, M.D.

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

About Susan G. Komen San Diego®
Since its inception in 1995, Susan G. Komen® San Diego has granted more than $19 million to fund global research and local non-profits that provide everything from free diagnostic mammograms, meal delivery, temporary financial aid, transportation and more. Komen has set a Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026. Seventy-five percent of every dollar raised in San Diego stays in San Diego County to fund breast health services for uninsured and underinsured women and their families. The remaining 25 percent funds international breast cancer research. In fact, next to the U.S. government, Susan G. Komen® is the largest non-profit funder of breast cancer research in the world. For more information, please visit Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.