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The ASCO Cancer Foundation and BCRF: A Model Partnership

Sep 22, 2010

October 2010 Issue: A multidisciplinary approach is critical in breast cancer research and treatment, and funding that model also requires a collaborative effort. Together, The ASCO Cancer Foundation® and The Breast Cancer Research Foundation ® (BCRF) have built an effective collaboration worthy of emulation by other philanthropic organizations looking to augment their own resources.

From the day of its founding in 1993 (by Evelyn Lauder, of Estée Lauder Companies), BCRF has been dedicated to supporting

Margaret (Peg) Mastrianni (second from left) accepts one of the top nonprofit donor awards on behalf of BCRF at the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting. The award was presented by (left to right) Martin J. Murphy, Jr., PhD, DMedSc, Chair of The ASCO Cancer Foundation; Douglas W. Blayney, MD, ASCO Immediate Past President; and Nancy R. Daly, MS, MPH, Executive Director of The ASCO Cancer Foundation.

outstanding and innovative clinical and genetic research on breast cancer. The organization’s stated mission is “to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and translational research at leading medical centers worldwide, and increasing public awareness about good breast health.”

The collaboration with The ASCO Cancer Foundation is particularly effective because “our missions are aligned and we each bring complementary resources to the table,” said Clifford Hudis, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Chair of the BCRF Scientific Advisory Committee. (Dr. Hudis also serves as Treasurer on the ASCO Board of Directors and is a Foundation donor.)

“BCRF is able to provide funding focused specifically on breast cancer, but the work we support typically has had significant spillover to other malignancies consistent with ASCO’s broader goals,” he said. “On the other hand, ASCO brings an unbelievable array of productive investigators who are judged and selected by their peers, which allows us to support the most promising projects. That’s why we’ve been able to do so many amazing things together.”

These achievements include funding 27 investigators through ASCO Cancer Foundation grants since 2001, totaling more than $4.5 million in support: 15 Young Investigator Awards (YIAs), six Career Development Awards (CDAs), five Advanced Clinical Research Awards (ACRAs) in Breast Cancer, and a new award, the Comparative Effectiveness Research Professorship (CERP) in Breast Cancer.

“These are wonderful awards that allow creative and effective investigators to take the next steps in their research knowing that they have an important foundation of funding in place. These researchers can then stay focused on breast cancer during difficult funding times. Whether they stay in breast cancer or use their talents in other areas, it benefits all of us,” Dr. Hudis said.

The connection between the two organizations is close. BCRF’s Executive Board of Scientific Advisors includes three past ASCO Presidents (see Q&A below), including Larry Norton, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a past Chair of The ASCO Cancer Foundation Board of Directors and a long-time donor. He is the Scientific Director of BCRF and has advised the organization since its inception.

“It makes complete sense for an organization like BCRF to leverage its financial resources with the intellectual resources of The ASCO Cancer Foundation,” Dr. Norton said. “The research missions [of the two organizations] are totally concordant. There’s a common phrase that research cures cancer, but it’s really researchers who cure cancer. By identifying, funding, and giving freedom of inquiry to researchers, advances occur. Both foundations are committed to that goal.”
BCRF has been a top donor to The ASCO Cancer Foundation for four consecutive years (2007-2010) and has a strong presence at the ASCO Annual Meeting. Together, the two organizations have accomplished a great deal in the fight against breast cancer, and together, they look forward to a promising future.

The BCRF Perspective
Margaret (Peg) Mastrianni, Deputy Director of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), discussed the organization’s effective relationship and close connection to The ASCO Cancer Foundation® with ASCO Connection.

AC: Why do The ASCO Cancer Foundation and BCRF have such a successful link?
Ms. Mastrianni: One important reason is that Dr. Larry Norton, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 2001-2002 ASCO President, and 2002-2004 ASCO Cancer Foundation Chair, has directed BCRF’s scientific activities since its beginning. BCRF’s close association with Dr. Norton, and later with other ASCO members and leaders who are among our Scientific Advisors, has created a true partnership. We certainly support research grants programs managed by other organizations, but ASCO and The ASCO Cancer Foundation were the first, and you have been extremely generous in sharing the talent and time of your members with BCRF and our supporters.

AC: Three former ASCO Presidents (Dr. Norton, Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, and Dr. Gabriel N. Hortobagyi) and an ASCO member (Dr. Peter Greenwald) serve on your Executive Board of Scientific Advisors, and a current ASCO Board of Directors member (Dr. Clifford Hudis) is Chair of your Scientific Advisory Committee. How have these individuals helped to strengthen BCRF?
Ms. Mastrianni: Each member of the Scientific Advisory Board brings a wealth of wisdom and experience to BCRF. It really goes back to our mission: By “providing critical funding for innovative clinical and translational research,” we are making significant progress against breast cancer. The exchange of talent and leadership with ASCO ensures that we all stay focused on that mission. We keep each other honest. BCRF does what it does best—we are a fundraising organization focused on advancing research aimed at the prevention and cure of breast cancer. In selecting the researchers that our fundraising dollars support, our Scientific Advisors are doing what they do best—finding answers to the riddle of breast cancer.

AC: BCRF is a crucial supporter of The ASCO Cancer Foundation Grants Program, not only funding research, but also helping the Foundation come up with new and creative fundraising opportunities. In particular, the Comparative Effectiveness Research Professorship (CERP) in Breast Cancer broke new ground in research funding. How did you work with the Foundation to create this award?
Ms. Mastrianni: Last year, our Scientific Advisors felt strongly that comparative effectiveness research should be represented in BCRF’s grant portfolio, and they thought that the appropriate way to do this was to establish a professorship through The ASCO Cancer Foundation’s Grants Program. The first CERP was awarded this year to Dr. Patricia A. Ganz, of UCLA, a member of BCRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee. Dr. Ganz is as an outstanding researcher who has made and continues to make significant contributions that have changed the direction of breast cancer research, and who will provide mentorship to junior researchers.

AC: In 2010, BCRF’s support of the Foundation’s Grants Program has been comprehensive: in addition to the CERP, you also supported an Advanced Clinical Research Award (ACRA) in Breast Cancer, a Career Development Award (CDA), and two Young Investigator Awards (YIAs) in breast cancer. Why is The ASCO Cancer Foundation’s Grants Program such a good fit with BCRF’s mission and vision?
Ms. Mastrianni: Our Scientific Advisors believe that the Foundation’s grant selection process ensures that the work of the most promising young investigators will be supported, which is an important priority for us. In 2001, BCRF made its first ASCO-related grant with support for a YIA. The funds we have allocated to the Foundation’s Grants Program have grown steadily since then, and we have kept support for new ASCO Cancer Foundation awards high on our list.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation Scientific Advisors
Executive Board of Scientific Advisors

Larry Norton, MD (Chair)
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Nancy E. Davidson, MD
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Peter Greenwald, MD, PhD
National Cancer Institute

Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Scientific Advisory Committee

Clifford Hudis, MD (Chair)
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Patricia A. Ganz, MD
University of California, Los Angeles

Judy E. Garber, MD, MPH
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Lajos Pusztai, MD, PhD
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Vered Stearns, MD
The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

First Grant for Comparative Effectiveness Research Awarded to Dr. Patricia Ganz

Dr. Murphy and Dr. Ganz

At the 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting, The ASCO Cancer Foundation® awarded the Comparative Effectiveness Research Professorship (CERP) in Breast Cancer to Patricia A. Ganz, MD, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). This five-year, $500,000 grant will support her work, “Improving Outcomes for Breast Cancer Survivors: Measuring the Comparative Effectiveness of Survivorship Care Programs within the UCLA-LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence,” which will examine how well survivorship program interventions are in line with ASCO’s recommendations for breast cancer surveillance. Two mentees, a doctoral student and an early-career physician–scientist, will work on this research project with Dr. Ganz.

According to Dr. Ganz in a prior interview with ASCO Daily News, “What we learn from these real-world experiences can translate into knowledge about how best to deliver care for patients. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to carry out this work and honored to be selected by The ASCO Cancer Foundation.”

The CERP was initially proposed to ASCO by The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and is supported in full by BCRF.

Investigators Supported by BCRF
The ASCO Cancer Foundation recognizes the following recipients of BCRF-supported grants.

Johann de Bono, MD, PhD, MSc—2001 Young Investigator Award (YIA)
Royal Marsden Hospital

Nancy DeMore, MD—2002 Career Development Award (CDA)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Doris V. Quon, MD—2002 YIA
University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center

Judith F. McKoy, MD, PhD—2003 YIA
Columbia University Medical Center

Ron Bose, MD—2004 YIA
Washington University School of Medicine

Vered Stearns, MD—2004 Advanced Clinical Research Award (ACRA)
The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins

Antoinette R. Tan, MD—2005 CDA
Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Vandana B. Sharma, MD, PhD—2005 YIA
Valley Medical Oncology Consultants

Benjamin D. Smith, MD—2005 YIA
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Wei Wang, MD, PhD—2005 YIA
San Francisco Oncology Associates

Stacy W. Gray, MD—2006 YIA
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

David H. Gorski, MD, PhD—2007 ACRA
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Jeffrey M. Peppercorn, MD, MPH—2007 CDA
Duke University Medical Center

Sao Jiralerspong, MD, PhD—2007 YIA
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Janette L. Vardy, MD, PhD—2008 CDA
Sydney Cancer Center

Matthew A. Maurer, MD—2008 YIA
Columbia University

Ting Bao, MD—2008 YIA
University of Maryland

Lajos Pusztai, MD, PhD—2008 ACRA
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Brent Rexer, MD, PhD—2009 YIA
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Michaela Higgins, MD, BCh—2009 YIA
Massachusetts General Hospital

Mary Sehl, MD—2009 CDA
University of California, Los Angeles

Shanu Modi, MD—2009 ACRA
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Shaveta Vinayak, MD, MS—2010 YIA
Stanford University

Monika Leigh Burness, MD—2010 YIA
The University of Chicago

Shannon L. Puhalla, MD—2010 CDA
University of Pittsburgh

Isabelle Bedrosian, MD—2010 ACRA
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

Patricia A. Ganz, MD—2010 Comparative Effectiveness Research Professorship (CERP)
University of California, Los Angeles

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