September 24, 2003

Amy Heaps, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
PHONE: 410-955-1287; 410-484-0785 (pager)

Tracey Warshaw, Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade
PHONE: 212-282-5664

Avon Foundation Gives Landmark $10 Million Gift to Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center

The Avon Foundation has awarded $10 million to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins* to build a new breast center, support research designed to decrease breast cancer incidence and death rates and fund education and outreach initiatives. It is the largest gift ever to the Cancer Center's breast cancer program and Johns Hopkins is one of only six institutions receiving this level of funding and the only cancer center in the Mid-Atlantic region.

"The Avon Foundation gift represents a multifaceted breast cancer initiative that will favorably impact all areas of our breast cancer program including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, research, and education," says Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.*

Construction of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center will bring together into one facility experts and state-of-the-art imaging equipment and technology to provide full coordination of care, from prevention and detection through diagnosis, surgical treatment, and post-operative care. Services will include film and digital mammography, breast ultrasound, surgical consultations, image-guided interventional procedures, patient education, and support services.

"This gift will help us expand upon breakthroughs in many areas of breast cancer research. But, equally important is the opportunity it gives us to develop new programs that reach out to underserved populations suffering disproportionately from this disease," says Martin D. Abeloff, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Part of the gift establishes the Avon Foundation Access to Breast Health Initiative, which provides outreach and screening to underserved minority and low-income women in Baltimore. Through already established partnerships, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center experts are working with community centers to reduce disproportionately high incidence and death rates from breast cancer.

The third component of the gift supports research aimed at uncovering new biologic targets for preventing, detecting, and treating breast disease. Among the research projects to be funded with the Avon Foundation gift are:

• The use of ductal lavage for breast cancer detection. This procedure examines cells "washed" from the lining of the breast ducts, where cancer most frequently originates, to look for abnormalities.
• The search for genetic and cellular pathways receptive to hormone-based treatments.
• Identification of molecular markers that enhance risk assessment, diagnosis, and the ability to monitor treatment responses.
• Identification of proteomic patterns that would indicate those cancers most likely to recur and become metastatic.
• Attempts to use drugs to silence or "turn off" newly identified pathways that contribute to breast cancer development.

"The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is one of the leading research institutions currently funded by the Avon Foundation," said Kathleen Walas, president of the Avon Foundation. "The funds raised through the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade are dedicated to providing access to care for all women and finding a cure for breast cancer. We are proud to provide funding which will bring quality breast cancer care to underserved communities and enable continued breakthrough research to eradicate the disease."

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center is a comprehensive cancer center as designated by the National Cancer Institute. It is the only such center in Maryland. Each year, its breast team performs more than 500 surgical breast procedures, 9,000 mammograms, 2,000 breast ultrasounds, and 1,300 image-guided interventional procedures each year. The Center also is the recipient of a prestigious NCI SPORE (Specialized Programs in Research Excellence) in breast cancer.

The Avon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 with a mission to improve the lives of women by supporting programs that offer economic opportunity and provide care and research for breast cancer in the U.S. and around the world.

In support of women's health, the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade began in the U.K. in 1992, and has expanded to 50 countries. Funds are raised through a wide variety of special events, product sales, walks, runs, concerts and other marketing initiatives worldwide. The focus is on reaching the medically underserved population, including minorities, the poor, elderly, under- and uninsured, with a mission to fund access to care and finding a cure for breast cancer. Since 1992 the Avon Crusade has returned more than $250 million net to breast cancer research and care organizations worldwide.

***Note to News Reporters and Editors: Please note that shortened versions of our name are available for media use -- Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins or Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center