Research Funding

Since its inception in 2004, Living in Pink contributions have helped to fund a variety of local and national research endeavors to further the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Prevent Cancer Foundation – 2017
¡Celebremos la Vida! (Let’s Celebrate Life)

¡Celebremos la Vida! program is celebrating its 22nd year providing free breast and cervical cancer screenings for underserved and underinsured Latinas over age 40. The free breast and cervical cancer screenings is followed by free diagnostic and treatment, if needed. The purpose of the program is to provide lifesaving services to women who, because of language barriers, lack of insurance and residency status, are unable to access other programs.

Spanish Catholic Center – Washington, DC
Cardinal McCarrick Center – Silver Spring, MD
Georgetown University Cancer Center – Washington, DC
Family Health Partnership Clinic McHenry County– Chicago, IL

Combined these centers have screened over 1,000 Latinas in the last year, finding five confirmed cases of breast cancer. All five women are receiving care, at no cost. By their side is a patient navigator providing support and assistance with appointments, scheduling transportation, providing translation and supporting their understanding of procedures. The vital importance of the patient navigators cannot be taken lightly as each supports the woman while remaining culturally sensitive.

Breast Care for Washington, DC – 2016 and 2017
Community of Hope’s Conway Health and Resource Center

Breast Care for Washington is uniquely positioned to impact women’s access to breast cancer screening in the District of Columbia. Their operations were specifically designed to overcome current barriers that prevent low-income, medically underserved women from receiving high quality breast care. Their location in Ward 8 brings services to patient population that previously was hampered from receiving care because of distance to providers and a lack of transportation options. They are the only stationary 3D mammography facility providing direct services within a community health clinic setting. LEARN MORE…

Katherine Loree Cook Ph.D., B.S. – 2015
Wake Forest University Health Sciences

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women; with approximately 232,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Obesity also is an epidemic in the USA, as over 60% of women are overweight or obese. Several studies have demonstrated a strong link between obesity and a greater risk of developing breast cancer. It is estimated that 3 out of 10 breast cancers may have been prevented if the women were not overweight, indicating the important role obesity in the etiology of breast cancer. The most prevalent type of breast cancer express the estrogen receptor and endocrine-targeted therapies are often used to combat these cancers. Results from the breast international group (BIG) I-98 study indicate that obese women treated with tamoxifen had a poorer overall survival when compared to healthy weight women, implicating a causal link between obesity and endocrine therapy resistance. My preliminary data shows obese mice are more likely to develop breast cancer and have a worse response rate to endocrine targeted therapies than lean mice. Molecular signaling pathways such as the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway and autophagy are identified as contributors to breast tumor development and cancer therapy resistance. I hypothesize that elevated UPR and autophagy induction in mammary glands of obese mice promotes tumor formation and impairs antiestrogen therapy responsiveness. Targeting these pathways may prevent obesity-mediated primary breast cancer formation and prevent secondary breast cancer reoccurrence, thereby reducing overall breast cancer mortality.

Susan Steck, MD – 2013
University of South Carolina

Connections between chronic inflammation and increased risk of cancer and other health disorders have led researchers to develop a tool that ranks a person’s diet according to an index of foods that lead to pro- or anti-inflammatory effects.The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology and Biomarkers Prevention, concludes that individuals can take steps to increase their consumption of anti-inflammatory foods to reduce inflammation effects, which can in turn reduce cancer risks. This means choosing more fruits, nuts, green leafy vegetables, fish and whole grains over pro-inflammatory foods, such as red meat and processed foods containing trans fat. LEARN MORE…

Eliot Rosen, MD, Ph.D. – 2011
Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown

Dr. Rosen has identified a new class of drugs that target the estrogen driving recurring breast cancer, but work through a completely different mechanism than the current treatment options. In the laboratory the new compounds have proven effective in treating not only normal ER+ breast cancer cells, but also ER+ breast cancer cells that have developed resistance to the current drugs. The goal of Dr. Rosen’s research is to identify second generation compounds that are ten-fold more potent than our existing compounds (ie., that inhibit ER activity at ten-fold lower concentrations). The creation of this second generation is critical as more potent versions of the compounds translate to lower, and more effective, dosages of these drugs for future patients. Additionally, the second generation of these compounds will get the lab one step closer to pre-clinical testing for safety and efficacy in animal models, a necessary step on the road to drug development. LEARN MORE…

Koji Itahana, Ph.D. – 2009
University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Identifying genes involved in breast cancer development is key to developing new medications that target the cancerous cells and to improving genetic screening guidelines. The Foundation is supporting Koji Itahana, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to study the role of a protein, p32, in killing breast cancer cells and preventing tumor formation. This work could increase our understanding of breast cancer genetics and lay the groundwork for identifying a new gene to help physicians assess cancer risk in patients. LEARN MORE…

Sandra M. Swain, MD – 2008
Washington Cancer Institute at Washington Hospital Center

Sandra M. Swain, MD, medical director, Washington Cancer Institute at Washington Hospital Center, accepted a gift of $35,000 from Living in Pink founder Michele Conley and committee member Kathleen Battista. “I am delighted that Washington Cancer Institute’s research program has been selected to receive this gift, generated from the passion of women who share with me, the goal of eradicating breast cancer,? said Dr. Swain. “This donation will contribute toward this goal by supporting research for medical advances in breast cancer treatments. The contribution and support of Living in Pink is greatly appreciated.” Thanks to this generous research grant, Dr. Swain is able to further her research focused on SRC tyrosine kinase, which is believed to play an important role in the development and progression of many cancers.

Robert Strange, PhD – 2007 & 2008
University of Colorado

Moderate exercise has recently been linked to a decreased risk of cancer; however, the mechanism responsible for the decreased risk is not understood. Dr. Strange’s research proposes that, with exercise, angiogenesis will preferentially be increased in muscle, and blood flow will be directed and redistributed to muscle. Conversely, it is hypothesized that exercise will result in decreased angiogenesis and reduced blood supply in the tumor. This will in turn lead to an increase in tumor cell death, slowed tumor growth, and tumor regression. This study represents a first attempt to evaluate the effect of exercise on breast cancer progression by examining the mechanism responsible for exercise-mediated tumor growth inhibition.

Ehsan Samei, Ph.D. – 2006
Duke University Medical Center

Mammography is currently the most reliable screening technique used for breast cancer detection. However, this method of screening has difficulty visualizing masses and micro-calcifications hidden in dense tissue. Normal tissue, called anatomical noise, can prevent radiologists from seeing important changes in dense breast tissue. Acquiring two views of each breast can help radiologists eliminate this problem, but taking two views requires two separate, uncomfortable compressions of the patient’s breast. Moreover, the image data from the two views cannot be directly compared. This study is investigating the feasibility of a new imaging procedure, called Stereo Imaging (SI), in which two digital radiographic images of the breast are acquired using a single compression. The SI method produces three-dimensional X-ray images with stereo views of the possible breast lesions and has the potential to be easily translated into clinical settings.

Ann-Marie Simeone – 2005
University of Texas – M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Almost half of women diagnosed with breast cancer after menopause are obese. These women also have a higher risk of developing secondary breast malignancies even after chemotherapy and mastectomy. Dr. Simeone is hoping to find an effective way to prevent these secondary cancers and reduce the death rate in these women. She believes that higher levels of the hormones prostaglandin E2 and leptin decrease these patients’ sensitivity to chemopreventive drugs, including the drug tamoxifen. Simeone hopes to discover why this happens — information that will help in the development of more effective, tailored chemopreventive strategies that would benefit obese breast cancer patients and improve their clinical outcome.