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Pietenpol, Arteaga named to Komen think tank

BY: DAGNY STUART

6/25/2010 - Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), and Carlos Arteaga, M.D., professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology and leader of the VICC Breast Cancer Program, have been selected to serve on a new scientific panel to guide the research program of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the world's largest breast cancer foundations.

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Carlos Arteaga, M.D.

Carlos Arteaga, M.D.

The panel of 60 experts from a wide range of disciplines and seven countries will serve as inaugural members of Komen for the Cure's new Scientific Advisory Council (SAC). SAC members will provide scientific peer review for the breast cancer grants and programs that Komen funds and will provide Komen leadership with guidance on breast cancer education and public policy. Members will serve renewable two-year terms.

“Komen for the Cure has been a wonderful partner with VICC in our search for new diagnostic and treatment options for breast cancer, and I am delighted to have been selected to serve with so many distinguished cancer investigators,” said Pietenpol, B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology.

Pietenpol's VICC research laboratory is engaged in work on biochemical pathways that control processes of tumor suppression, development, metabolism and aging. Pietenpol and her colleagues are examining the role of the p53 family signaling axis in normal growth and tumor development of cells, with a special focus on a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer known as triple negative breast cancer.

“In recent years, Komen has provided generous financial support for our research efforts at VICC and I am pleased to join this prestigious group of scientific colleagues,” Arteaga said.

Arteaga, who holds the Donna S. Hall Chair in Breast Cancer, is leader of the VICC Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in breast cancer. His research team is examining oncogene signaling in breast tumor cells and is using this information for the development of molecular therapies in human breast cancer.

SAC members must demonstrate to Komen that they are involved in innovative projects that seek to discover and deliver cures for breast cancer. Members are not eligible to apply for standard Komen grants, so they will have the opportunity to receive funding for their research programs in amounts ranging from $175,000 to $250,000 per year.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest source of breast cancer research funding outside of the U.S. government, currently funds nearly 760 active research grants around the world, with plans to invest another $55 million in 105 projects in 2010.

“Komen for the Cure's $500 million in research funding over the years has led to treatments that extend survival and improve quality of life for individuals with breast cancer. Moreover, Komen's breast cancer effort has led to a much finer understanding of the genetic and molecular basis of the disease,” said Eric Winer, M.D., Susan G. Komen for the Cure's chief scientific advisor and director of the Breast Oncology Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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