On Friday, January 10, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama (BCRFA) presented its largest donation ever of $1,050,000 to the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham during a luncheon at The Club in Birmingham. Over the last 24 years the BCRFA has made an annual donation to breast cancer research from proceeds from year-round community driven, organization-organized events, and sales of specialty breast cancer research license plates. This year’s contribution brings the Birmingham-based organization’s cumulative investment in breast cancer research at UAB to almost $10 million.
“Without the significant support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama, we simply wouldn’t have a leading breast cancer research program that brings so many important, cutting-edge scientific discoveries to the patients of this state,” said Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D., the new Director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. He added, “It’s an exciting time for breast cancer research.”
The recipients of the 2019 BCRFA Pilot Grant Awards were also announced at the luncheon. This year’s funding opportunities included: one BCRFA Scholar Award (one mentored career development two-year award of $100,000 for junior faculty), two BCRFA Collaboration Awards for Immunology/Immunotherapy ($70,000 two-year awards supporting collaborative research among multiple Alabama research institutions), two BCRFA Innovation Awards ($50,000 seed grants for new investigators to explore innovative ideas), and two BCRFA Impact Grants ($70,000 awards for accomplished researchers to leverage ongoing studies to generate preliminary data to support an application for extramural, peer-reviewed funding). Award recipients include:
BCRFA Scholar Award Winner:
•Dr. Mick Edmonds with mentor Dr. Eddy Yang (O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB) – “A Novel SRC Inhibitor for the Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer”
BCRFA Collaboration Award Winners:
•Dr. Randall Davis with Dr. Suzanne Lapi and Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor (O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB) – “Advancing the Prognostic, Immunotherapeutic, and Imaging Potential of FCRL6 in Breast Cancer”
•Dr. Troy Randall with Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor, Dr. Ahmed Elkhanany, Dr. Don Buchsbaum, and Dr. Alex Rosenberg (O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB) – “Identifying Neo-Antigen-Reactive T Cells in Breast Cancer Using Organoid Cultures”
BCRFA Innovation Award Winners:
•Dr. Karim Budhwani (CerFlux) – “Personalized Oncology Efficacy Test (POET)”
•Dr. Natalie Gassman and Dr. Michelle Schuler (USA Mitchel Cancer Institute) – “Blockage of CHK1 and EGFR Signaling in Triple Negative Breast Cancer to Enhance Anti-Tumor Efficacy”
BCRFA Impact Grant Winners:
•Dr. Rajeev Samant and Dr. David Schneider (O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB) – “Unraveling a Novel Vulnerability of Breast Cancer”
•Dr. Corinne Augelli-Szafran, Dr. Omar Moukha-Chafiq, and Dr. Rebecca Boohaker (Southern Research) –“Development of Novel Clofarabine Analogs for Breast Cancer Therapy”
“I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer just over 11 years ago and have been free of cancer for almost 8 years,” stated Jill Carter, BCRFA board president. “My healing would not have been possible without the work of researchers seeking to cure breast cancer. I am so thankful for those who have come before me to create treatments that save my life, but we still have more work to do!”
Efforts that helped reach this record breaking donation included the City of Gardendale supporting us through their annual Charity Bowl Youth Football Tournament, raising over $6,000 for the BCRFA during 2019 as well as Cahaba Brewery’s CahabaQue that raised over $26,000 for research. Additionally, Jefferson County residents registered for 2,400 Breast Cancer Research specialty tags, resulting in $99,000 additional dollars’ worth of support for the BCRFA.
Approximately one half of the total donation of $1,050,000 was raised through the BCRFA specialty car tag sales. Available at DMVs across the state, over 13,000 vehicles in Alabama sport the Breast Cancer Research tag. 100% of funds received by the BCRFA from tag sales are invested in research.
The BCRFA supports a comprehensive approach to battling breast cancer through collaborative and innovative research to help diagnose, treat, prevent and eradicate the disease. All of the funds raised remain in Alabama, supporting local research, which in turn makes a national impact.