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October 30, 2000

$5.3M grant gives funds for Winship, Grady

By Sylvia Wrobel

Every 12 minutes, an American woman dies of breast cancer, and a disproportionate number are African-Americans, who often have more clinically aggressive cancers—even if detected at the same stage as other ethnic groups.

Thanks to a $5.3 million gift from the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, a strong partnership with Grady Hospital and a growing expertise in genomics, the Winship Cancer Institute is going to try to change that.

Of this new gift (which comes on the heels of a $2.2 million Avon gift last spring), $3.3 million will fund a new research laboratory at Winship and Grady and a new comprehensive clinical center at Grady, a 953-bed public hospital in the heart of Atlanta where Emory medical school physicians provide vast amounts of care, much of it to the underserved.

The remaining $2 million will fund breast cancer genomics research by six new Avon scholars. These young cancer scientists and physicians study the causes of breast cancer, potential new targets for prevention, and improved treatment options including new genetic medicines. Several research studies will seek to determine why breast cancer is unusually aggressive in many African American women.

Winship Director Jonathan Simons said the institute is particularly excited by the opportunity to create a state-of-the-art cancer program at Grady. “As with so many of the Emory programs at Grady,” Simons said, “we want to make certain that patients seen there have access to the same scientific knowledge as do the patients seen in Emory’s own facilities. This new program brings the latest science in cancer to a population that sometimes has been the last to benefit from such advances.”

The Avon Products Found-ation Translational Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at both Winship and Grady will provide facilities and equipment for Emory scientists working at Grady to advance research in breast cancer genomics. By funding the Grady lab, Avon is providing indigent women—those with the highest risk of having the most fatal breast cancers—with the opportunity to have their cancers studied with the new molecular tools of genomics.

A bank of tumor samples (provided by patients who consent to allow their tumors to become part of research studies) will become a critical resource to ensure that the populations served by Grady are included in the development of groundbreaking treatments and chemoprevention of breast cancer. Such studies will help clinicians better predict which women will get breast cancer, detect cancers earlier and treat them more effectively.

The comprehensive breast center at Grady will be a model of excellence in caring and cutting-edge approaches to breast cancer, Simons said. It includes mammography, diagnostic and treatment services, genetic counseling and psychosocial-support services. Within the center, the Avon Women’s Health and Breast Cancer Resource Center will have bilingual staff and provide written, video and electronic information about breast cancer and other women’s health concerns.

The breast care program at Grady also will focus on community education and outreach, employing health advisors to work with local community and faith-based organizations to educate the public about breast cancer and the services available at Grady.


Back to Emory Report Oct. 30, 2000