News & Alerts

National Breast Cancer Coalition Awards Grant to Look for Vaccine Targets in DCIS Samples

November 6, 2013

Dr. Gregory Hannon of Cold Spring Harbor, and Dr. H. Kim Lyerly, of Duke University School of Medicine, receive grant through the generous support of the NPT to evaluate the biology of human DCIS through next-generation sequencing

Washington, D.C., November 6, 2013—Through the generous support of the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) announced today that it has awarded a grant to Dr. Gregory Hannon, Professor and HHMI Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Dr. H. Kim Lyerly, George Barth Gellar Professor of Cancer Research, Duke University School of Medicine. Drs. Hannon and Lyerly will collaborate on efforts to evaluate the biology of human ductal carcimona in situ (DCIS) through sequencing (RNAseq). DCIS is not cancer, yet it is treated as such. Many women with DCIS receive toxic therapy that will not help them, but will cause harm. Addressing the issue of DCIS is part of NBCC’s Artemis Project. These investigators will use next-generation sequencing to generate profiles from single (DCIS) lesions and will carry out laboratory tests to evaluate signaling and immune responses. Further, the investigators plan to determine whether differences among DCIS lesions relate to different subtypes of invasive breast cancer. Another goal of the research is to analyze the healthy tissue surrounding DCIS lesions, to gain a better understanding of how disease progresses from DCIS to invasive cancer.

This $325,000 grant is part of NBCC’s Artemis Project® for a Preventive Breast Cancer Vaccine, which brings together a collaborative group of advocates and scientists to take a strategic, systematic yet broad approach to the development of a breast cancer vaccine within five years.

Earlier grants have been awarded to Dr. Paul Spellman and Dr. Joe Gray of Oregon Health and Science University to identify possible vaccine targets using existing and developing human genomic data within different breast cancer subtypes. This analysis has  generated a prioritized list of 200 potential breast cancer specific targets to be considered for incorporation into a preventive vaccine. Another seed grant was awarded to Dr. Paul Ewald, Professor of Biology and Director, Program on Disease Evolution at the University of Louisville and Dr. Vladimir Belyi, Assistant Professor at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to look for associations between breast cancer and an extensive library of pathogens within genomic datasets from breast tumor samples.

“I’m grateful to both the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) for their generosity,” said Dr. Hannon. “With this grant, we plan to generate gene expression profiles from single DCIS lesions and assay them for oncogenic signaling and adaptive immune responses to ultimately deliver large-scale transcriptome datasets and RNAseq libraries pertaining to DCIS tissues and surrounding stroma—and analyses of those datasets and libraries, that will describe the molecular events that occur in DCIS.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Duke investigators to leverage their previous experience, to take advantage of the known clinical events associated with the DCIS samples collected at Duke, and to work collaboratively with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories on what we hope will ultimately become a catalytic factor in the development of a preventive breast cancer vaccine,” said Dr. Lyerly. “We are extremely grateful to both NPT and NBCC for providing this generous award.”

“This award will allow the researchers to look for vaccine targets in DCIS samples, build on the work of previous grantees and bring us closer to the day when we know how to prevent invasive breast cancer and stop harming women,” said NBCC President Fran Visco.

Advocates continue to be an integral part of all aspects of the project, keeping the focus on the end result of safe, and reliable, breast cancer prevention for all women.

“This is the kind of approach and exploration we believe will help us get closer to achieving the goal of Breast Cancer Deadline2020®,” said NBCC President Fran Visco. “As we were with our first two awards of the Artemis Project® grants, we are grateful for the generous support we have received from the National Philanthropic Trust to help move this very important research forward/”

“I am proud that NPT is part of this important work and hopeful that this research will help push us closer to finding a preventative vaccine for breast cancer by 2020.” said NPT President and CEO, Eileen Heisman

NBCC has set a deadline—Breast Cancer Deadline 2020®—for knowing how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® is a strategic plan of action that focuses on primary prevention, stopping women from getting breast cancer, and understanding and preventing metastasis (the spread of cancer), which is responsible for 90 percent of breast cancer deaths.

The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) was formed in 1991 with one mission: to end breast cancer. NBCC has accomplished much over its 20 plus years: bringing about unprecedented research funding to the worldwide scientific community, forging new collaborations to design research and set priorities, expanding access to information and care to underserved women, and launching unparalleled training programs to prepare advocates around the globe to work side by side with scientists, policy makers and health care providers.

Yet breast cancer continues to take lives. In 2013, more than 425,000 women worldwide will die of breast cancer. In the United States alone, 39,620 women and 410 men will die of breast cancer. To renew the sense of urgency to its mission and refocus global efforts on ending breast cancer and saving lives, the National Breast Cancer Coalition set a deadline and launched Breast Cancer Deadline 2020® to know how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. What does ending breast cancer mean? By January 1, 2020, we must understand how to prevent people from getting breast cancer in the first place and how to prevent them from dying from the disease.

About the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC)
The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) is dedicated to knowing how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020 through the power of grassroots action and advocacy. NBCC supports increasing funding for breast cancer research; monitors how those research funds are spent; expands access to quality health care for all; and ensures that trained advocates influence all decision making that affects breast cancer. Join NBCC, learn more and take action. Visit

About National Philanthropic Trust (NPT)
NPT was founded in 1996 and manages primarily donor-advised funds.  Since that time it has raised over $2.8 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages over $1 billion in charitable assets.  NPT has made nearly 60,000 grants totaling $1.5 billion to charities all over the world and ranks among the 25 largest grant-making institutions in the United States.  NPT publishes the Donor Advised Fund Report, which is a unique, annual compilation and analysis of charitable organizations that sponsor donor-advised funds.  Visit