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Lombardi scientist brings 'dream team' breast cancer research effort to GUMC

Washington, DC -- It's called a "Dream Team." Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center's incoming scientific director V. Craig Jordan, OBE, PhD, DSc, and 12 of the nation's top breast cancer researchers have been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) to form a scientific "Dream Team." This collaboration of the best and brightest scientists will conduct new breast cancer research with the goal of producing tangible research results benefiting patient care within three years.

"This is a very innovative approach to funding research," explains Jordan, a pharmacologist who will serve as vice chairman of Lombardi's department of oncology when he joins the cancer center in July. "We hear a lot about the need to accelerate cancer research but this is the first effort that could truly speed up the translation made in the laboratory and impact cancer care."

SU2C is a charitable initiative supporting groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated timeframe. SU2C represents an unprecedented collaboration uniting the major television networks, entertainment industry executives and celebrities, and prominent leaders in cancer research and patient advocacy. The majority of the $73.7 million awarded in this first round of three-year grants for the five Dream Teams was raised in connection with an SU2C telecast on September 5, 2008 that aired simultaneously on the ABC, CBS and NBC networks.

The grant awarded to Jordan and his scientific collaborators recognizes the pursuit of the most promising research -- accelerating the discovery of new therapies for cancer patients and/or advancing efforts in cancer prevention research. Jordan and his Dream Team colleagues will work toward a greater understanding of hormone receptor positive, HER2 positive and triple negative subtypes of breast cancer.

Breast cancer claims the lives of 40,000 women in the United States each year. While called breast cancer, tumors that develop in the breast can have many different characteristics and require tailored treatment based on these characteristics. Still, many cancers don't respond to treatment, grow resistant to therapy or can recur. Understanding the molecular diversity of human breast cancer has been a driving force in leading to a new and exciting era in cancer treatment. This understanding has already led to more effective and less toxic treatments.

Jordan is an internationally recognized breast cancer scientist whose research focuses on the response of breast cancer cells to preventive and treatment agents. He is recognized by many as the "father" the anti-cancer drug tamoxifen, a drug that blocks estrogen from fueling some breast cancers. Millions of women around the world continue to be treated with tamoxifen. Jordan's team, led by Dennis Slamon, MD, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles and Joe Gray, PhD, Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, is focused on understanding the molecular subtypes of breast cancer.

The Teams' goals include: expanding the underlying molecular understanding of each subtype of breast cancer in order to better understand the efficacy of a given therapy; evaluating the mechanisms that lead to therapy resistance within the different subtypes of breast cancer; understanding the role stem cells, or cells known to be the biological foundation of human breast cancer, play in each subtype of breast cancer; developing cell line and laboratory models of each breast cancer subtype; and developing an information distribution center to allow the greater scientific community to benefit from this knowledge.

Jordan's research will be part of Lombardi's Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research, which is home to a dedicated corps of more than 30 faculty members working exclusively on the prevention and cure of breast cancer. The Nina Hyde Center, founded in honor of the late Washington Post fashion editor, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Georgetown University has consistently ranked in the top 10 institutions conducting breast cancer research worldwide as measured by Thomson Reuters Science.

All grants will be administered by the SU2C's scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), which reviewed Dream Team applications and made recommendations on funding to SU2C's Management Committee.


Contact: Karen Mallet
Georgetown University Medical Center

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