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Initial Avon/NCI Breast Cancer Research Grant Awarded To Fox Chase Cancer Center In "Projects for Patients" Awards Program

PHILADELPHIA (October 4, 2002) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center has received one of six initial grants awarded by the Avon-National Cancer Institute (NCI) "Progress for Patients" Awards Program. The $999,000 grant will be shared with three other cancer centers in the U.S. It is one of the first grants awarded from the unique public-private partnership between the Avon Foundation and the NCI and encompasses an area of early clinical investigation important to breast cancer.

The "Progress for Patients" Awards Program funding is made available to cancer centers that are part of the National Cancer Institute's Specialized Programs of Research Excellence or SPORE. Fox Chase is a member of the ovarian SPORE consortium and will conduct clinical breast cancer research funded by this grant in collaboration with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, University of Alabama, and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The focus of the research will include the validation of a breast biomarker panel.

"The validation of a breast biomarker panel is significant because it may provide a simple way to detect early stage breast cancer, even before it's visible on mammogram," said Mary B. Daly, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of this study. "The Avon Foundation should be commended for it's unique approach in funding research for breast cancer. By aligning with the NCI, the Foundation is allowing its funds to be distributed with peer review for critical areas of breast cancer research in need of funding."

The Progress for Patients program was launched in October 2001 when the NCI received a $20 million pledge from the Avon Foundation to fund translational research on breast cancer. The pledge is Avon's largest single award ever. The funds were raised by the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which has generated more than $200 million in the Unites States alone from 1993 to mid-year 2002. Avon is one of the world's leading corporate supporters of the breast cancer cause, with programs in nearly 50 countries, and the only one to fund the whole spectrum of the breast cancer cause - medical research, clinical care, support services, education and early detection - with a focus on medically underserved women.

Applicants for the Progress for Patients grants were encouraged to include minorities and underserved women in their studies. According to Jorge Gomez, M.D., NCI, "the breadth of projects that we recommended for funding was truly impressive, which made choosing the final grant awardees a very difficult, but rewarding process."

Nine applications for the grants were received from the SPORE groups, which target all types of breast cancer interventions. The $2.5 million in initial grants (see below), of which Avon provided $1.99 million and NCI provided $660,000, represents the first payment towards the $20 million gift from Avon, which will be committed over the next four years. Additional grants to fund early-phase clinical interventions at NCI-designated cancer centers and SPOREs will be announced next year.

"Avon is actively committed to finding the cure for breast cancer, as well as improving the quality of treatment and access to care among medically underserved women," said Kathleen Walas, president, Avon Foundation. "In partnership with the NCI, we believe we can help reverse historic disparities in healthcare while greatly accelerating important research in prevention, detection and treatment of breast cancer."

The initial Avon-NCI Progress for Patients grant awards are as follows:

Grant NumberAwardee Institute(s)Application Title /
Study Description
Grant Total Costs
89019University of AlabamaPre-targeting radioimmunotherapy for metastatic breast cancer$197,736


Baylor College of Medicine (lead)
Dana Farber-Harvard Cancer Institute
Johns Hopkins University
A phase I/II breast cancer prevention study using the chemotherapy drug Iressa$391,743


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (lead)
University of Alabama
Fox Chase Cancer Center
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Validation of a breast biomarker panel$998,538
58223U. North Carolina Chapel HillNovel approaches for patients with large breast cancers$244,502

Duke University (lead)
Dana Farber-Harvard Cancer Institute
U.C. San Francisco
U. North Carolina Chapel Hill
Novel biomarkers for aromatase inhibitor therapy$447,383
89393Dana Farber-Harvard Cancer InstituteAnti-angiogenic therapies for breast cancer$230,973

For more information about cancer, visit the NCI Web site at

Launched in the United States in 1993, the mission of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade is to fund access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer. This includes funding five vital areas of the breast cancer cause: medical research (into the possible prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of breast cancer); clinical care; support services and financial assistance; education; and early detection programs, all with a focus on the medically underserved - the poor, minorities, elderly and those with inadequate insurance.

Funds are generated in the United States by the many programs of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, including special Avon Crusade "pink ribbon" fundraising products sold by 550,000 Avon independent sales representatives, a series of fundraising walks, and local and national special events. Avon also supports breast cancer programs in nearly 50 countries worldwide. By the end of 2002 Avon will have reached the unprecedented goal of $250 million total raised worldwide since the first program was launched a decade ago. More information is available at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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