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Innovator Award to Berkeley Lab's Joe Gray for improved breast cancer screening
Date:10/1/2007

BERKELEY, CA -- A grant totaling almost $8 million has been awarded to Joe Gray, Director of the Life Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in the form of an Innovator Award from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). Through BCRP, DOD is the second largest funding agency for breast cancer research in the world.

Gray leads a multi-institutional team with collaborators from the Breast Oncology Program at the University of California at San Francisco, the University of California at Berkeley, other members of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The goal of their project, as originally conceived by Gray and Laura Esserman, co-leaders of UC San Francisco's Breast Oncology Program, is to greatly improve breast cancer screening and reduce mortality from breast cancer.

All cancer screening programs seek to reduce mortality by detecting and treating cancer as early as possible, and by identifying and completely removing precancerous lesions surgically before they develop into tumors. Screening programs have helped dramatically reduce incidence and mortality from colon cancer and cervical cancer. But for breast cancer, screening based on mammograms has been less successful.

"Current mammographic screening strategies do not seem to be detecting the lesions that are precursors to the most invasive breast cancers," Gray says. "Genomic studies by my colleagues and I have identified two subtypes of breast cancers that are far more likely to be lethal, and which can be identified by their characteristic gene products. Yet standard mammography techniques apparently are not finding the precursors of these subtypes before they become malignant."

Needed: new ways of imaging

Two things are necessary to improve this situation, Gray says. The first is better anatomical imaging. Most mammography is currently
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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