The Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 2, 2001
April 2, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 28


Hopkins Targets Breast Cancer to Aid Minorities and Poor

$2.2 million gift comes from Avon Products Foundation

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center received a major boost to its arsenal in the fight against breast cancer with a gift award of $2.2 million from the Avons Products Foundation, from funds raised by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Hopkins scientists and clinicians will direct many of their studies to aid poor women and African-American women, who have disproportionately high rates of breast cancer morbidity.

This gift is part of a $16.2 million total that Avon has awarded to breast cancer programs at 11 institutions across the country.

The gift to Hopkins will support several novel approaches to managing breast cancer, from molecular genetic biomarkers to behavioral aspects of women in following screening recommendations.

"This gift from the Avon Products Foundation will provide vital support, helping us to expand upon breakthroughs in the biological causes of breast cancer, genetic markers useful in detection and new therapies. But equally important is the opportunity it gives us to develop new programs that reach out to underserved populations suffering disproportionately from this disease," said Nancy Davidson, the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Research Professor and director of the Oncology Center breast cancer program. Other participants in the Avon-supported studies include Kathy Helzlsouer, Sara Sukumar, Deborah Armstrong, All Hess, Ann Klassen and Dmitri Artemov.

Research at Hopkins that Avon is supporting includes the following three programs:

Promising Methods of Early Detection. Researchers will develop a serum bank, collecting blood samples and demographic data from economically disadvantaged women and women at high risk for breast cancer. Samples contained in the bank will someday be used to identify epidemiological factors and molecular genetic screening markers useful in breast cancer detection and diagnosis.

Developing Health Messages for Older Women. Behavioral scientists will explore factors that entice or dissuade women from receiving mammograms. The focus will be on older women and African-American women, with the intent of tailoring public messages that would enhance their participation in regular, recommended screening techniques.

Imaging Techniques to Examine Drug Delivery. Cancer and imaging scientists will collaborate to study drug delivery to breast tumors in preclinical models. A promising new drug known as phenylbutytrate will be examined in the treatment of breast cancer to determine how well it penetrates breast tumor tissue and to examine its effectiveness in advanced breast cancer.