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New NIH Breast Cancer Research to Focus on Prevention

The National Institutes of Health
From NIH News in Health (NIH)


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

October 8, 2015

A new phase of the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), focused on prevention, is being launched at the National Institutes of Health. Grant-funded researchers will now work across scientific disciplines, involve new racially and ethnically diverse communities, and expand the study of risk factors that precede breast cancer, such as breast density.


These new directions reflect recommendations made by the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC) in 2013. IBCERCC was congressionally mandated to review the state of the science around breast cancer and environmental influences by the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act. Recommendations included prioritizing prevention, involving transdisciplinary research teams, engaging public stakeholders, collaborating across federal agencies, and communicating the science to the public.


This broadened research focus will add to the growing knowledge of environmental and genetic factors that may influence breast cancer risk across the lifespan. The six new BCERP projects, plus a new coordinating center promoting cross-project collaboration, are jointly funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute. All projects involve strong partnerships between researchers and organizations focused on breast cancer prevention or environmental health.


The new research will be conducted at the following institutions
• Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
• City of Hope/Beckman Research Institute, Duarte, California
• Columbia University, New York City
• Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, D.C.
• Michigan State University, Lansing
• University of Massachusetts, Amherst
• University of Wisconsin - Madison (Coordinating Center)


"The beauty of this research is that scientific discoveries and community observations inform each other, in order to dive deeper into the complex causes of breast cancer," said Gwen Collman, Ph.D., director of NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training.


The focus on minority and socio-economically disadvantaged women is an important step in addressing disparities in breast cancer outcomes. Although African-American women are diagnosed with breast cancer less often than white women, more aggressive cancers and breast cancer deaths are more common among African-American women.


Another new direction for BCERP is research on the role of breast density as a possible intermediate risk factor for breast cancer. Dense breast tissue is one of the most common risk factors for breast cancer. Identifying links between environmental exposures and high breast density may provide new insights into prevention.


"These priorities reflect our continued commitment to breast cancer prevention," noted Caroline Dilworth, Ph.D., BCERP program lead at NIEHS. "Our goal is to build on the high quality science we've been funding for more than a decade, while also being responsive to the expert recommendations of the IBCERCC report."


Grant Numbers: U01ES026130, U01ES026137, U01ES026122, U01ES026132, U01ES026119, U01ES026140, U01ES026127
NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of NIH. For more information on environmental health topics, visit www.niehs.nih.gov. Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications.


The National Cancer Institute leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH's efforts to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.


About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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