NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
October 12, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 39 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Featured Article

NCI and Avon Foundation Award More than $7 Million for Breast Cancer Research

The Progress for Patients Award Program, a partnership between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Avon Foundation, announced in September its most recent round of grants for innovative research focused on breast cancer. The grants were awarded as supplements to existing funding of four projects led by NCI-designated Special Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) breast cancer investigators, one project led by ovarian SPORE investigators, and six projects at NCI-designated cancer centers.

"Through this private-public partnership we have demonstrated that common goals can help participating partners to support research that directly benefits patients, in this case through various clinical interventions," said Dr. Jorge Gomez, chief of NCI's Organ Systems Branch in the Office of Centers, Training, and Resources.

The Avon awards were launched in October 2001 when the Avon Foundation pledged $20 million to NCI to fund translational breast cancer research. With an application receipt, review, and funding announcement process that takes less than 6 months, delays common to other funding mechanisms are minimized. Each grant application is reviewed by a minimum of four reviewers, including scientific experts, statisticians, and patient advocates, who evaluate and score each application. Following these reviews, final recommendations on funding are forwarded from NCI to the Avon Foundation for their approval.

Because the Avon awards are 2-year grants, about half of the money given this year ($3.6 million) was for new research projects, and the other half ($3.8 million) funded awards from 2003. Of these totals, NCI contributed more than $900,000 for new projects and nearly $1.2 million for second-year funding of the 2003 projects. Avon's contribution was $2.7 million for new projects, plus $2.7 million for the 2003 projects.

The Avon Foundation is the charitable arm of Avon Products, Inc., which, through its Breast Cancer Crusade, is a major supporter of breast cancer awareness, research, and prevention. In the United States alone, Avon has raised more than $200 million for breast cancer research. Much of this money comes from Avon sales representatives through the "pink ribbon" product line, which includes gift-boxed lipsticks, pins, pens, mugs, and candles, all priced at $4 or less. Avon also raises money through the international Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer campaign, direct online donations, local fundraising programs, and a national series of fundraising walks. As a government research funding institution, NCI receives the money it grants through the Avon awards from Federal research appropriations.

"Funding goes directly to U.S. scientists who compete successfully for these awards," says Marydale Debor, chief advisor for the Avon Foundation's Breast Cancer Crusade program. "Avon Foundation funding will support early phase breast cancer clinical trials and other studies in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment; short-term clinical studies in human subjects; and recruitment and retention of minority and other medically underserved patients."

A total of 46 applications, many from collaborating institutions, were received for the 2004 Avon awards. The following projects received funding:

  • HER (erb) Inhibitors in Untreated Operable Breast Cancer
  • Markers of Short-Term Contralateral Breast Cancer Risk in Women with a History of Sporadic Breast Cancer
  • A Phase II Trial of GW572016 for Brain Metastases in Patients with HER-2-Overexpressing Breast Cancer
  • A Neoadjuvant Phase II Trial of GW572016 in Breast Cancer Patients: Biologic Correlative Study
  • Effect of Aspirin on Mammographic Density
  • Targeting the hCG-beta for Breast Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Computer Aided Diagnosis Applied to Breast MRI
  • Trastuzumab and Erlotinib in HER2+ Metastatic Breast Cancer
  • Suramin in Combination with Paclitaxel in Advanced (Stage IIIB or IV) Metastatic Breast Cancer
  • Grape Seed Extract, a Natural Aromatase Inhibitor
  • Phase 2 Trial of Estradiol Therapy for Advanced Breast Cancer

Details about the 2004 awards and the Progress for Patients Awards Program can be found at