Prevent Cancer Foundation awards research grants to early-career investigators at Georgetown University, M.D. Anderson and University of Chicago

August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011

Eileen T. Sexton
(703) 837-3691

Grants will focus on breast, lung and ovarian cancer prevention research

(Alexandria, Va.) – The Prevent Cancer Foundation has awarded its latest round of research grants to early-career scientists at Georgetown University, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Chicago. The three cancer prevention research projects were selected from a pool of 51 applications nationwide. Each proposal was reviewed by the Foundation’s Scientific Review Panel before being approved for funding. Since 1985, the Foundation has supported over 450 peer-reviewed grants and fellowships at over 150 leading academic institutions and medical centers nationwide.

“The Prevent Cancer Foundation’s 25-plus year history of funding new investigators has created a pathway to promising and innovative approaches in prevention and early detection of cervical, prostate and breast cancer, to name a few,” says James L. Mulshine, M.D., Associate Provost for Research at Rush University Medical Center and co-chairman of the Foundation’s Scientific Review Panel. “We are pleased that these three gifted scientists – Drs. O’Neill, Peng and Romero – have chosen to focus their research on cancer prevention, and, by doing so, will ultimately save lives.”

  • Making informed breast cancer primary prevention decisions, Suzanne O’Neill, Ph.D., Georgetown University

Mammographic breast density is a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Little information exists regarding women’s awareness of breast density as a risk factor, their own personal risk and whether awareness would change interest in risk management options, such as chemoprevention and enhanced screening. The study will use a mixed methods approach to assess cognitive, emotional and attitudinal variables related to breast cancer risk, with a focus on breast density and management approaches. A pilot intervention program will then be developed that will be aimed at increasing appropriate use of chemoprevention and enhanced screening in women at higher risk due to mammographic breast density and other factors.

  • Utility of individual genetic profile in the prevention of lung cancer, Bo Peng, Ph.D., University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Many genetic and environmental risk factors have been identified for lung cancer. The study aims to investigate whether or not it is cost-effective to use individual genetic profiles in the prevention of lung cancer. By predicting and comparing the benefits, harms and costs of various cancer prevention strategies, this study will provide valuable information for public policy decision making regarding the utility of individual genetic information, and help advance the development of personalized cancer prevention and treatment options.

  • Targeting insulin and lipid metabolism for ovarian cancer prevention, Iris Romero, University of Chicago.

Given the limitations of screening and the current inability to cure ovarian cancer, prevention is the key to mortality reduction. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that metformin, a commonly used treatment for diabetes, also decreases the risk of developing cancer. Preliminary ovarian cancer studies also show that metformin prevents tumor development in mice and inhibits proliferation of ovarian cancer cells. In the proposed study, the research will seek to clarify the cancer prevention effect of metformin in high-risk groups. Patients with obesity and diabetes are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer as both groups have alterations in glucose and/or lipid metabolism that may contribute to cancer development. Metformin affects both lipid and glucose metabolism and therefore is uniquely suited to prevent cancer  in these individuals. Currently, the primary means of ovarian cancer prevention is removal of the ovaries. Metformin may ultimately afford women the opportunity to delay removal of the ovaries. The findings from this study may also prove to be applicable to other cancers.

“These projects are on the cutting edge of cancer prevention research,” says Carolyn Aldigé, president and founder of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “They represent the future of cancer prevention—more personalized treatments that can identify those most at risk, tailored treatment plans and other measures—that may ultimately lead to more lives saved.”

Research proposals are reviewed by members of the distinguished Scientific Review Panel, drawn from institutions such as the National Cancer Institute, Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Rush University Medical Center and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

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About The Prevent Cancer Foundation:
The mission of the Prevent Cancer Foundation is to save lives through cancer prevention and early detection. Founded in 1985, the Foundation has provided more than $125 million in support of cancer prevention and early detection research, education, advocacy and community outreach nationwide. For more information, please visit


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