November 1994
Media Contact:Karin Twilde
Phone: (410) 955-1287
E-mail: KTwilde@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions have received a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health-Environmental Health Sciences Division for a comprehensive breast cancer program that will be coordinated by the Oncology Center.

The program will focus on clinical and basic research, prevention strategies and the development of new therapies. "The Oncology Center has always had one of the strongest clinical programs for breast cancer in the nation," says Nancy Davidson, M.D., associate professor of Oncology and director of the new program.

"What we have been missing are basic scientists working in the laboratory to uncover the causes of the disease at the molecular level. This grant will allow us to recruit talented basic scientists," she says.

The breast cancer program will have several unique features. Researchers will work directly with breast cancer survivors and advocates in the development of clinical trials. "We want their opinion about our research agenda. They can give us important insight into what concerns patients might have, how to present information and other suggestions," says Davidson. Hopkins will then involve them in recruiting patients to participate in new treatment studies.

Davidson also has enlisted Kathy Helzlsouer, M.D., an epidemiologist and oncologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, to explore possible environmental causes of cancer. Helzlsouer already has begun a study of pesticide levels in women's blood to determine if there is a link between pesticides and breast cancer.

Approximately 182,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, more than any other type of cancer. An additional 46,000 will die from the disease. The mid- Atlantic states have the highest incidence of breast cancer in the nation.

The breast cancer program will be managed by a multidisciplinary team of breast cancer experts, including oncologists, pathologists, surgeons and epidemiologists. Advisory committee members include Davidson, Helzlsouer, Martin D. Abeloff, M.D., Stephen Baylin, M.D., William Dooley, M.D., John Fetting, M.D., and Frank Kuhajda, M.D.

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