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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 29, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 5
Landmark Gift to Breast Center

Avon awards $10 millionto JHU for multi-faceted initiative

By Amy Heaps
Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Avon Foundation has awarded $10 million to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins to build a new breast center, support research designed to decrease breast cancer incidence and death rates, and fund education and outreach initiatives. It is the largest gift ever to the Cancer Center's breast cancer program, and Johns Hopkins is one of only six institutions receiving this level of funding and the only cancer center in the mid-Atlantic region.

"The Avon Foundation gift represents a multifaceted breast cancer initiative that will favorably impact all areas of our breast cancer program including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, research and education," said Nancy E. Davidson, director of the Breast Cancer Program at Hopkins.

Construction of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center will bring together into one facility experts and state-of-the-art imaging equipment and technology to provide full coordination of care, from prevention and detection through diagnosis, surgical treatment and post-operative care. Services will include film and digital mammography, breast ultrasound, surgical consultations, image-guided interventional procedures, patient education and support services.

Martin D. Abeloff, director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, said, "This gift will help us expand upon breakthroughs in many areas of breast cancer research. But equally important is the opportunity it gives us to develop new programs that reach out to underserved populations suffering disproportionately from this disease."

Part of the gift establishes the Avon Foundation Access to Breast Health Initiative, which provides outreach and screening to underserved minority and low-income women in Baltimore. Through already established partnerships, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center experts are working with community centers to reduce disproportionately high incidence and death rates from breast cancer.

The third component of the gift supports research aimed at uncovering new biologic targets for preventing, detecting and treating breast disease. Among the research projects to be funded with the Avon Foundation gift are:

The use of ductal lavage for breast cancer detection. This procedure examines cells "washed" from the lining of the breast ducts, where cancer most frequently originates, to look for abnormalities.

The search for genetic and cellular pathways receptive to hormone-based treatments.

Identification of molecular markers that enhance risk assessment, diagnosis and the ability to monitor treatment responses.

Identification of proteomic patterns that would indicate those cancers most likely to recur and become metastatic.

Attempts to use drugs to silence or "turn off" newly identified pathways that contribute to breast cancer development.

Kathleen Walas, president of the Avon Foundation, said, "The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is one of the leading research institutions currently funded by the Avon Foundation. The funds raised through the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade are dedicated to providing access to care for all women and finding a cure for breast cancer. We are proud to provide funding which will bring quality breast cancer care to underserved communities and enable continued breakthrough research to eradicate the disease."

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is a comprehensive cancer center as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only such center in Maryland. Each year, its breast team performs more than 500 surgical procedures, 9,000 mammograms, 2,000 ultrasounds and 1,300 image-guided interventional procedures. The center also is the recipient of a prestigious NCI SPORE (Specialized Programs in Research Excellence) in breast cancer.

The Avon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 with a mission to improve the lives of women by supporting programs that offer economic opportunity and provide care and research for breast cancer in the United States and around the world.

In support of women's health, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade began in the United Kingdom in 1992 and has expanded to 50 countries. Funds are raised through special events, product sales, walks, runs, concerts and other marketing initiatives. The focus is on reaching the medically underserved population, including minorities, the poor, elderly and under- and uninsured, with a mission to fund access to care and find a cure for breast cancer. Since 1992 the Avon Crusade has returned more than $250 million net to breast cancer research and care organizations worldwide.


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