Since 2005, Delta people and customers have come together to raise $19 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Despite the devastating impacts of COVID-19, we remain committed
to our values of giving back and supporting each other and the communities where we live, work and serve each day.
Delta’s pride in contributing to life-saving breast cancer research is visible to all our customers in our 2018 onboard video shown through the month of October.
Immunotherapy is one of the most exciting areas in breast cancer research. We're highlighting how BCRF-supported researchers are moving this field forward with innovative approaches such as cryoablation.
This year, BCRF is investing $63 million to support the work of nearly 300 scientists at leading medical and academic institutions across 14 countries, making BCRF the largest private funder of breast cancer research worldwide.
Pheodora Shin, a physician diagnosed at age 45, supports research so her daughter won’t follow in her footsteps.
After losing her mother to metastatic breast cancer, BCRF Staff Member Margaret Flowers rerouted her career path from chef to scientist.
BCRF-funded investigators have been deeply involved in every major breakthrough in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship since its founding nearly 25 years ago.
Why does BCRF focus on research? Because investing in research produces real results. Hear from BCRF’s world-recognized scientists about how research is improving care, producing better outcomes and transforming lives—every day.
Gad Rennert, MD, PhD
Director, Clalit National Israeli Cancer Control Center Professor and Chairman, Department of Community Medicine Carmel Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
Goal: To understand the variation in the course of breast cancer in different women
Impact: Dr. Rennertis collecting the world’s largest series of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (almost 10,000 patients) with full clinical annotation and molecular characterization. This allows them study various aspects of disease behavior including response to treatment, recurrence of tumor, and overall survival. With a large enough series, they can identify markers to predict recurrence that lead to change in treatment and more personalized care.
What’s next: Dr. Rennertwill continue to recruit new patients (and healthy matched controls) while continuing to follow-up with the already enrolled women. They will continue to analyze the genetic data they have gathered to identify patterns in the clinical behavior of breast cancer between different groups.
Luca Gianni, MD
Director, Medical Oncology,
Head of the New Drug Development
Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology
Ospedale San Raffaele
President, Michelangelo Foundation
Goal: To improve response to immunotherapy in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).
Impact: Dr. Gianni has advanced the understanding of how chemotherapy given before surgery can trigger the immune system to attack and eliminate TNBC tumors. This work, along with his research of biomarkers that could predict response to immunotherapy, may help determine which patients would benefit from chemotherapy alone and those who would have a better response to a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
What’s next: He and his team will launch a clinical trial in patients with early high-risk and locally advanced TNBC. They will compare the effects of adding an immunotherapy drug (atezolizumab) with chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone. In clinical trials, immunotherapy has shown some success in treating TNBC. However, the response rate is low, which may be due to the lack of a biomarker that would help doctors predict which patients may benefit from this targeted form of therapy. Dr. Gianni is studying methods to identify those most likely to respond to a type of immunotherapy called immune-checkpoint inhibitors and those who will do well with chemotherapy alone.
Jack Cuzick, PhD, FRS, CBE
Professor of Epidemiology Queen Mary University of London, Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, Cancer Research UK, London, United Kingdom
Goal: To identify protein and gene biomarkers that will improve risk assessment in women at high risk of developing breast cancer.
Impact: Drs. Cuzick and Francis are expanding their high-risk breast cancer biobank, which is a collection of blood and tissue samples, mammograms, and clinical data from women enrolled in breast cancer prevention and treatment trials. This resource will help them determine which types of breast cancer will respond to different kinds of preventive treatment.
What’s next: The team will collaborate with researchers around the world to collect samples and data from women taking part in several ongoing trials. While large randomized clinical trials may provide clues for predicting response to therapy or late recurrence, the results don’t apply to every participant because individual responses are influenced by the patient’s and the tumor’s unique genetic profile. By gathering samples and data from women enrolled in clinical trials, Drs. Cuzick and Francis hope to identify biomarkers that will help them understand why some patients respond to therapy and others do not, and to identify patients at high risk of recurrence.
Prudence Francis, MBBS, B Med Sc, FRACP, MD
Associate Professor, Head of Medical Oncology, Breast Service, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Impact: Drs. Francis and Cuzick are expanding their high-risk breast cancer biobank, which is a collection of blood and tissue samples, mammograms, and clinical data from women enrolled in breast cancer prevention and treatment trials. This resource will help them determine which types of breast cancer will respond to different kinds of preventive treatment.
What’s next: The team will collaborate with researchers around the world to collect samples and data from women taking part in several upcoming trials. While large randomized clinical trials may provide clues for predicting response to therapy or late recurrence, the results don’t apply to every participant because individual responses are influenced by the patient’s and the tumor’s unique genetic profile. By gathering samples and data from women enrolled in clinical trials, Drs. Francis and Cuzick hope to identify biomarkers that will help them understand why some patients respond to therapy and others do not, and to identify patients at high risk of recurrence.
Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD
Member, Molecular Pharmacology & Chemistry Program, Professor, Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School, Chairman, Department of Radiology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
Goal: To standardize best practices in breast cancer to advance clinical management of breast cancer worldwide.
Impact: Dr. Hricak and her team have added new components to the international training program they developed for radiologists. By providing education in the latest advances in breast imaging to radiologists around the world, they hope to improve breast cancer patient outcomes worldwide.
What’s next: The team will expand training in therapies such as ablation and radioembolization to treat primary and metastatic breast cancer. They also plan to fund a radiologist who will participate in a clinical research fellowship and work on a prospective trial. Radiologists play a crucial role not just in detecting breast cancer and monitoring cancer response to therapy but also in breast cancer care, from image-guided breast cancer surgery to treatment interventions. However, radiologists working in less technologically sophisticated settings may not be familiar with the latest advances in screening and treatments. Dr. Hricak is leading a research training program that has educated radiologists in 19 countries, allowing these specialists to advance treatments and improve outcomes for patients in their communities.
Rosette Lidereau, PhD
Researcher, Department of Tumor Biology, Institut Curie, Paris, France
Goal: To discover new preventive and treatment strategies for patients with metastatic breast cancer.
Impact: Dr. Lidereau has identified a protein called kindlin-1 that drives cancer cell invasion and metastasis. She and her team recently developed a molecule that blocks its function, which may prove to be a new therapeutic strategy to prevent tumors from spreading.
What’s next: The team plans to propose a new therapeutic approach for triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs)—a type of breast cancer that is more likely to spread—by developing pharmacological inhibitors of kindlin-1. Metastatic breast cancer, also called Stage IV, is the most advanced form of breast cancer. While there are ways to slow its growth, there is no cure for it, so interventions are urgently needed to prevent metastasis. Dr. Lidereau is studying the molecular mechanisms underlying breast cancer progression and has identified a potential target for drug development that would prevent tumors from spreading to other tissues.
Sofia D. Merajver, MD, PhD
Professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology, Scientific Director, Breast Cancer Research Program, Director, Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Risk Evaluation Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Goal: To identify new strategies for the prevention and treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
Impact: Dr. Merajver has discovered that a specialized immune cell—the M2a macrophage—promotes cancer progression and encourages tumor growth. This will allow her and her team to investigate new ways to prevent metastasis. They’ve also made advances in predicting which breast cancer cells are capable of forming brain metastases and built a research platform to test cancer cells directly from surgeries and biopsies to help guide treatment.
What’s next: She and her team will study live cancer cells from patients from different ethnic groups in the U.S. who experience a high burden of triple negative and inflammatory breast cancer to find out whether small aggressive cancers have the potential to spread to other sites in the body. While most early stage breast cancers have a very good prognosis, others spread to other organs—a process called metastasis. While there are treatments that can extend the lives of those with metastatic breast cancer, it is incurable, so identifying ways to prevent metastasis would save many lives. Dr. Merajver’s group is using devices that allow them to study how cancer cells migrate to different tissues in the body, which may reveal methods for preventing this process from occurring.
Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD
Member (Professor), Public Health Sciences Division, Member, Epidemiology, University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington
Goal: To characterize the effect of exercise and weight loss on markers of breast cancer risk in women of all body sizes and fitness levels.
Impact: Dr. McTiernan has launched the first-ever clinical trial to test the immediate effects of exercise on markers related to breast cancer. If the markers are significantly altered, it could help support guidelines for daily exercise for breast cancer prevention—and it may indicate that exercise even without weight loss is beneficial.
What’s next: The team will measure markers related to inflammation and angiogenesis—both of which contribute to cancer—in women enrolled in their exercise study and will also determine whether the effects differ between normal weight and overweight/obese women. They also plan to look at how exercise affects cell growth in a model of breast tumor cells. There is a clear association between being overweight or obese and an increased risk of breast cancer. Dr. McTiernan and others have shown that weight loss has long-term, significant effects on biological factors linked to breast cancer risk. She is currently studying whether physical activity—which decreases breast cancer risk and is associated with improved survival—without weight loss will confer the similar benefits in women, regardless of their size and fitness level.
Stanislav Emelianov, PhD
Joseph M. Pettit Endowed Chair, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
Goal: To develop novel strategies for breast cancer imaging and image-guided therapy.
Impact: Dr. Emelianov and his team have created new medical imaging devices and agents to detect, differentiate, treat, and monitor breast cancer and lymph node metastases. Such technology will help provide a comprehensive approach to the clinical management of breast cancer.
What’s next: The team’s investigations will be focused on the imaging of regional lymph nodes of breast cancer patients. The involvement of regional lymph nodes in the disease is considered to be a strong predictor of recurrence and survival. When patients undergo breast cancer therapy, imaging is used to determine whether the cancer has spread to other tissues so that treatment plans can be adjusted to prevent metastasis. Dr. Emelianov is studying advanced imaging methods that provide highly detailed information about cancer cells, which will help him develop an imaging platform capable of non-invasive and safe diagnostic imaging and image-guided therapy of breast cancer, a technology called theranostics.
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