Susan G. Komen Announces $31 Million in Research Grant Funding with Metastatic Focus


University of Kansas Cancer Center Researcher Receive $300,000 in Funding

DALLAS – September 26, 2017 – Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced 2017 research funding of $30.7 million for 98 research grants, with a focus on new treatments and understanding of the most lethal forms and stages of breast cancer. Komen funding to institutions in 27 states and 7 countries also includes research into new screening technologies, treatments for metastatic and aggressive types of breast cancer and disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

The grants include $300,000 in new funding for research at one institution in Kansas, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, bringing Komen’s total research investment in Kansas to more than $10.5 million since 1982.

“We are focused on new treatments, ways to overcome drug resistance in breast cancer patients, and a better understanding of how and why breast cancer spreads, so that we can better treat metastatic breast cancer or prevent it all together,” said Ellen Willmott, interim president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. “This focus on aggressive and metastatic disease is the foundation of our Bold Goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50% by 2026.”

Metastatic breast cancer – which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body like the brain, liver, bones or lungs – is responsible for almost all of the nation’s 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. More than 154,000 women are living with metastatic disease in the U.S. today. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen is hoping to reduce breast cancer deaths dramatically in the U.S.

This year’s funding also includes $17.6 million to early-career investigators. “Funding for early-career researchers ensures a continuum of breast cancer research, across generations, which is critical in a time of tightening federal research dollars,” Willmott said.

Komen’s 2017 portfolio includes*:

  • 37 grants expanding our knowledge of metastatic breast cancer and how to better treat it or prevent it;
  • 37 grants looking into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer (specifically, triple negative, inflammatory breast cancer luminal B, and ER-positive recurrent breast cancer).
  • 59 grants focused on new therapies, including 10 for targeted therapies and 20 for drug development
  • 24 investigating drug resistance (why drugs stop working in some patients)
  • 9 on disparities in breast cancer outcomes and 2 involving Big Data

“We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Missouri and Kansas, both on the ground and through research,” said Denise Wiese, Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City Interim Executive Director.

Komen’s Investments in Kansas

Komen’s research program is funded in part by contributions from Komen’s nationwide Network of Affiliates, which directs 25% of funds raised locally to Komen’s national research program, while investing the remaining 75% into community outreach programs that serve local women and men facing breast cancer.

University of Kansas Cancer Center

Komen Scholar Danny Welch, Ph.D., will receive $300,000 to study the role of genes that suppress the ability of breast cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). By understanding why and how metastasis happens, new targets can be identified for therapy and guide treatment decisions.

These new funds bring Komen’s total research investment in breast cancer to more than $956 million since opening its doors in 1982, the largest of any nonprofit and second only to the U.S. government. In addition to research, Komen and its nationwide network of Affiliates serve women and men in thousands of communities. To date, more than $2.1 billion has been invested in community programs that provide education, screening and treatment support.

Kansas also has 3 ongoing grants, awarded in previous years.

About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization outside of the federal government, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Since its founding in 1982, Komen has funded more than $956 million in research and provided more than $2.1 billion in funding to screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support programs. Komen has worked in more than 60 countries worldwide. Komen was founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at

About Susan G. Komen® and Komen Greater Kansas City
Komen Kansas City is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community. Through events like the Race for the Cure®, Rock the Ribbon and the Pink Promise Conference, Komen Kansas City has invested more than $21 million in community breast health programs in our 17-county service area and has helped contribute to the more than $956 million invested globally in researchFor more information, Visit or call 816.842.0410. Connect with us on social media: FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Grants are contingent upon signed and executed contracts with Komen.

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“I never wanted to do this to your dad”


By Paula Hoffman | Guest Blogger
Reprinted from a speech presented to Komen Top Fundraisers

“I never wanted to do this to your dad” were the first words that introduced me to the world of breast cancer. What were the words or story that brought you to the mission of ending breast cancer? Remember back to the first time you made the decision to make a difference in the lives of others. The Susan G Komen Race for the Cure is not just a one day event, it is a lifetime of change for someone.  Thank you for being a part of it.”

“Twenty five years ago when my mom spoke those words, I found out for the first time that my dad’s mom had died of breast cancer at the age of 50. This was 40+ years ago when there was no Susan G. Komen foundation or standardized screening for breast cancer, so her cancer was found too late. However my mom, 25 years ago, found a lump and went to have it checked out. She was told to have follow up testing done within a year but at the time could not afford the $100 deposit for the mammogram. What have you spent $100 on this week? At the time there were no grants available for her at that time and no huge push for insurance to pay. So her cancer grew aggressively until she was able to afford a diagnosis. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a unilateral mastectomy she said “at least insurance will now cover my mammogram cost”.

2017 End of Year Donate Button

“Because of my mom’s fight, I knew I had to do more than just wear a pink ribbon. I wanted to be the boots on the ground making a difference. So I became a breast cancer ambassador and a mammography technologist at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center. Rodgers Health, is an urban health center located near downtown Kansas City, MO. We have been a part of this community since 1967 as the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Missouri and the fourth in the nation. Our patients can be uninsured or underinsured with high deductibles. And deciding if you go for a screening breast imaging or put food on your table is a hard choice to make. I cannot tell you the number of times I have had my patients crying because they found a lump and do not know what to do. However, as a grantee of Susan G. Komen we do not have to turn these women away. I know that our health center, Rodgers Health, can take care of them and help them through to diagnosis. They do not have to wait until they can AFFORD to have cancer, to be diagnosed.”


“My mom chose to not only fight, but make a difference in the lives of other survivors. She bravely fought breast cancer five times over 18 years. She was a pioneer test patient in many of the drugs that are used today, a couple of those being Herceptin and Tamoxifen. She was vocal about the need for research and did not always take the doctor’s advice to just sit on the sidelines and wait. When they told her she needed oral chemotherapy, we found out that insurance would not cover the almost $10,000 per treatment price tag. She used her story to let others know the need for coverage and a bill was passed for insurance to cover the treatment. Susan G. Komen helped in the passing of this bill, and I was lucky enough to be there when it was signed and take that pen back to her during her chemotherapy treatment.”

2017 End of Year Donate Button 2

“My mother fought bravely for 18 long years and although she is no longer with us her legacy lives on. Last year her baby sister, my aunt, was diagnosed at age 48 and this April my sister was diagnosed at age 45. Both of them are using the same drugs my mom tested to save their lives today. Drugs that were found through research partially funded by Susan G Komen. RESEARCH MATTERS!”

“My aunt had gone in regularly for mammograms and had a biopsy that was benign in that same area the year before. However, when they asked for it to be biopsied again she did not think twice about it since she knew the risk, but also had insurance to pay for it. But what about the patients who have already received a huge bill for the last biopsy? Did you know that the DEPOSIT for a MRI or biopsy can be around $700? Do you think they will go back again?”

“My sister had a benign mammogram two months before she found her lump. We know that 92% of all cancers are found through mammography but what about those that are not. How will patients be educated on what to look for?”

“It is through grant programs and research that we will see an end to breast cancer. Early detection is the key to survival. However, without funding more women and men will go without diagnosis and research projects will end. Without your help through Susan G. Komen of Greater Kansas City I would not be able to help my patients get the answers they need for their health.”

To bridge these gaps our goal is to raise an additional $21,800 by December 31st.

Click here to make a meaningful gift today!

“Thank you again for being a part of the Susan G Komen of Greater Kansas City Race for the Cure. Know that you are making a difference in your life, the life of your family, your friends, my patients and in the life of a stranger you may never meet.”

We can do this.
We have to do this.
Together, we can do more than wear a pink ribbon!


Paula Hoffman is the Manager of Diagnostic Services at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center as well as a Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City Volunteer, Pink Army Ambassador and Donor. 

Note: 75% of the net funds raised through the Greater Kansas City Affiliate via Race for the Cure, Pink Promise Conference, Rock the Ribbon and other fundraising initiatives are invested locally to support awareness, education, screenings, treatment and advocacy programs (More than $16.2 million donated locally since 1994). 25% of the net funds raised locally are committed to the national scientific research grants program (Nearly $4 million since 1994).

Click here to make a meaningful gift today!