Susan G. Komen Unveils $26 Million Investment in Research Focused on Metastatic Breast Cancer and New Treatments

Sean Tuffnell
Susan G. Komen®

Hannah Beaty
Komen North and West Texas



TEXAS Researchers Receive $2,197,952 in Research Funding

DALLAS – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2019 – Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced $26 million in funding for new research projects that focus on metastatic breast cancer, developing new, more-effective treatments, and addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes. This year’s grant slate focuses on key areas that will help the organization achieve its Bold Goal to reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026.

“In order to save more lives, we must address the main cause of breast cancer deaths: metastatic breast cancer,” said George Sledge, Susan G. Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

“We are pleased to support research aimed at preventing breast cancers from metastasizing (spreading) and developing new, more effective treatments for metastatic disease,” added Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology, at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

More than an estimated 154,000 women in the U.S. are living with metastatic breast cancer – the most advanced stage of breast cancer that has spread outside the breast, often to the brain, bones, liver and lungs. Currently, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, and it is responsible for almost all the 42,000 breast cancer deaths in the U.S. each year.

Among the 60 grants Komen awarded, 38 are focused on better understanding and treating metastatic breast cancer. Grants were also given to researchers who are developing new therapies for breast cancer including aggressive subtypes such as triple negative breast cancer, investigating drug resistance, and addressing health disparities in breast cancer outcomes among specific communities.

“Breast cancer does not affect everyone equally and with the grants we’re funding this year, we’re moving closer to new therapies for aggressive forms of cancer, understanding why treatment doesn’t work in some patients and making sure everyone has access to the care they need,” said Paula Schneider, CEO, Susan G. Komen.

Komen’s 2019 portfolio includes*:

  • 60 grants totaling $25,689,384. Of these:
    • 38 grants totaling $17,504,384 are focused on better understanding metastasis – why it occurs and how to prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer
    • 39 grants totaling $15,579,815 for catalyzing the development of new therapies for all stages of breast cancer
    • 16 grants looking into novel treatments for triple negative breast cancer
    • 14 grants totaling $6,298,750 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
    • 9 grants focused on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and
    • 5 that apply big data technology (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning) to breast cancer research

*Eds Note: Numbers add to more than 60 because individual studies may be classed in more than one category.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $1 billion since opening its doors in 1982, and Komen’s investment in research focused on metastatic breast cancer to $210 million. Since our inception, we have funded more breast cancer research than any other non-profit outside of 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 $2.3 billion has been invested in efforts to provide critical education and real-time support to people in communities across the country.

Komen’s Investments in Texas

Komen’s research grant program is supported in part by funds raised by the organization’s nationwide network of Affiliates. Each year, Affiliates contribute at least 25 percent of local funds raised to research, while the remainder of their funds help provide vital education and real-time support to people facing breast cancer today in their communities.

Since 1991, Komen North & West Texas has funded $16,035,810 to community programs serving local women and men, while contributing $5,489,000 to Komen research.

Komen’s new research in TEXAS includes:

Baylor College of Medicine

Komen Scholar Matthew Ellis, BSc., MB, BChir., Ph.D., will receive $400,000 to define druggable pathways and molecules in patients with endocrine therapy resistant advanced disease with the goal of generating new treatments for advanced breast cancer and metastasis.

Valentina Hoyos Velez, M.D., will receive $449,220 to study how to teach T-cells, a component of the immune system, to target and kill breast cancer metastases with a specific estrogen receptor (ER) mutation. Her work aims to create a new immunotherapy option for metastatic breast cancer patients.

University of Texas at Austin

Song Yi, Ph.D., will receive $450,000 to sequence DNA to identify new treatment combinations for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Drugs called PARP inhibitors are one of the few targeted treatment options for TNBC patients, but many patients become resistant to these drugs. This project aims to identify a new way to combine treatments to prevent PARP inhibitor resistance.

University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio

Kexin Xu, Ph.D., will receive $448,750 to study how to reverse changes to DNA that can lead to hormonal therapy resistance. She will study how one DNA modification molecule, EZH2, can be targeted to help patients with drug-resistant metastatic breast cancer respond to hormonal therapy, thereby improving patient survival.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Wen Jiang, M.D., Ph.D., will receive $449,982 to determine the most effective way to use a nanoparticle “engager” molecule to stimulate the immune system to identify and attack cancer cells. This nanoparticle tool will improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy for metastatic breast cancer patients.


“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in North and West Texas, both on the ground and through research,” said Mary Frances Hoover, Executive Director of Komen North & West Texas.



About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen® is the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has an unmatched, comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide.  We advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information.  Born out of a promise between two sisters, Susan G. Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures.

Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen