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Our Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) provides strategic guidance and direction for our research and scientific programs. It plays a key role in guiding and prioritizing Komen’s global research investment and serves as the executive committee of the Komen Scholars. The SAB is led by the chief scientific advisors and is comprised of leaders in breast cancer research, clinical practice and advocacy who have made significant contributions to advancing the field and are committed to furthering Komen’s mission.  

“After I received a call from my best friend from high school (both of us 30 at the time) and supporting her through fears, treatment decisions, and survivorship concerns, I saw the patient perspective and came to recognize the importance of optimizing communication and decision-making.”

Ann H. Partridge, M.D., M.P.H., is the Eric P. Winer, M.D., Chair in Breast Cancer Research, Vice Chair of the Department of Medical Oncology, Director of the Adult Survivorship Program and Director of the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Partridge’s research focus is to improve the outcomes of cancer patients by understanding the disease and the contributions of psychosocial, behavioral and communications issues in breast cancer care and treatment, particularly in young women. Her work has been pivotal in characterizing a range of issues of young breast cancer survivors, including the impact of treatment on fertility, adherence with hormonal therapy, psychological adaptation to the diagnosis and the factors that play an important role in patient decision-making. She has also collaborated with other investigators to identify molecular differences in tumors found in young patients and identify potential biomarkers of long-term effects. Her Komen-funded research aims to elucidate and improve the unique medical and psychosocial issues facing young women with breast cancer.

“I appreciate the chance to give back to Komen, as well as the opportunity to brainstorm, collaborate, and affect change with other passionate investigators that share a keen interest in investing in discovery research and making advances that will prevent breast cancer and have clinical impact for patients with the disease.”

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., is the Chief Scientific and Strategy Officer at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Pietenpol’s early research focused on the signaling of p53 family in breast cancer; p53 is a tumor suppressor gene (controls cell death) and is one of the most commonly mutated genes in cancer. More recently, Dr. Pietenpol has combined her research expertise in molecular genetics with bioinformatics and statistics to advance our knowledge of the key driving signaling molecules in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). Dr. Pietenpol’s Komen funding supports research that identified molecular subtypes of TNBC and is now determining the molecular underpinnings of these distinct subtypes. The results from her laboratory-based work are being translated to several clinical trials investigating targeted therapies for TNBC patients, with the goal of helping oncologists determine the most appropriate and precise treatment for breast cancer patients.


“I have long been an advocate of the importance of integrating basic and clinical research. This approach has facilitated the development of completely novel approaches to cancer therapy built on biological principles.”

Alan Ashworth, Ph.D., F.R.S., is President of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco, a role he began in January 2015. He was previously Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, United Kingdom.  A translational biologist and laboratory researcher, Dr. Ashworth’s research focuses on understanding breast cancer genetics and applying what he learns to change the way patients are treated. He was a key part of the team that identified the BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility gene in 1995, which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer. Ten years later, Dr. Ashworth found a way to kill off BRCA1- and 2-related tumor cells by treating them with Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activity inhibitors, which amplify the damage caused by the broken DNA repair machinery in those cells. This therapeutic approach is now standard of care for BRCA-related breast and ovarian cancer. Dr. Ashworth’s Komen-funded research builds on his previous work and aims to identify genes and proteins that can be targeted with drugs to cause death of breast tumor cells in particular individuals with the goal of identifying new and better therapy options for breast cancer patients.

“We are entering an amazing time in breast cancer research, where our understanding of biology is directly informing patient care. Komen’s support has been, and continues to be key to the research responsible for this transformation.”

Lisa A. Carey, M.D., is the L. Richardson and Marilyn Jacobs Preyer Distinguished Professor in Breast Cancer Research, Alliance Breast Committee Co-Chair and Deputy Director of Clinical Science at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.Dr. Carey’s research focuses on the identification of different subtypes of breast cancer, evaluation of new agents in early and metastatic breast cancer, and examination of tumor characteristics that predict response to therapy and outcome. A clinical trialist, translational researcher, and expert in molecular subtypes of breast cancer, among other accomplishments, Dr. Carey was the lead author of the JAMA paper that first identified the predisposition of Black women to have triple negative breast cancer and designed and led the first clinical trial of a targeted agent in triple negative breast cancer, as well as phase III trial in HER2-positive breast cancer that illustrated that biologic features of the cancer and the microenvironment were as important to treatment response than drugs if not more. She has led multiple clinical trials testing novel drugs or regimens as well as evaluating the clinical usefulness of biomarkers to guide treatment. Dr. Carey’s Komen-funded research is focused on evaluating treatment resistance to antibody-drug conjugates in patients with early or metastatic breast cancer by utilizing predictive biomarkers in order to optimize treatment and avoid therapeutic and financial toxicities.


“No other organization has impacted breast cancer advocacy and research more than Susan G. Komen. World renowned researchers and volunteers support Komen because Komen cares about the future and honors the past. Komen is the pink ribbon that binds us together.”

Sandra Finestone, Psy.D., is a 30-year breast cancer survivor and research advocate, who has been a volunteer for Susan G. Komen for over 25 years. Dr. Finestone is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is passionate about educating breast cancer patients about their disease and the importance of breast cancer research. Dr. Finestone opened the Hope Wellness Center to meet the needs of breast cancer survivors. As Executive Director, she facilitates support groups, meets individually with patients and their families and has created a peer support system where breast cancer mentors help newly diagnosed women with their journey. Sandy helped start the Orange County Komen Affiliate and has been president three times, as well as the Race chair. She is a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Ambassador and past-President of the Inland Empire Komen Affiliate. In 2009, she went to Jordan to facilitate a meeting that taught healthcare providers about support groups for women with breast cancer, and later that year, trained women in Kuwait and Egypt about support groups. A Project Lead graduate, Dr. Finestone is an experienced grant reviewer for multiple organizations, including Komen. A member of the Advocates in Science Steering Committee, she currently serves as the patient advocate representative on Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board.

“Every advance in breast cancer outcomes has come from research, be it fundamental, translational, or clinical. My passion and goal is to accelerate these advances to help men and women who have breast cancer and to ultimately provide a cure.”

Dr. Adrian Lee is the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair and Director of the Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM), a joint effort by UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, to move biomedical research into personalized well-being and clinical care. He is also Professor of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology and Human Genetics at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Dr. Lee received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in England, and came to San Antonio, Texas, for his postdoctoral studies. He was subsequently recruited to Baylor College of Medicine and then to the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.  The goal of Dr. Lee’s research laboratory is to translate basic cell and molecular research findings into the understanding and treatment of breast cancer. In 2018 Dr. Lee was awarded the Terri L Chapman award from Susan G. Komen, the PNC Elsie Hillman Distinguished Scholar Award, and the University of Pittsburgh Biomedical Graduate Scholar Association (BGSA) Distinguished Mentor Award. Dr. Lee’s Komen-funded research is focused on developing a publicly available resource of patient-derived organoid 3D model cultures of primary and metastatic breast cancers by characterizing and validating these model cultures which are derived from tumor cells of different ancestries, subtypes and stages to generate a living biobank to serve as preclinical models for the research community.


“I am extremely grateful for having received grant support from Susan G. Komen that was instrumental in advancing my breast cancer research partnership between the United States and Africa – a wonderful intersection between the interests of global advocacy and improving breast health care in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Lisa A. Newman, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, FASCO is a surgical oncologist. She is the Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery and Director of the Interdisciplinary Breast Disease Program for the Weill Cornell Medicine-New York Presbyterian Hospital Network. Previously, she worked at the Henry Ford Health System, where she served as director of the breast program. She is also the Founding Medical Director for the International Center for the Study of Breast Cancer Subtypes, also relocated at Weill Cornell Medicine. Her primary research has focused on ethnicity-related variation in breast cancer risk and outcome. She oversees an international breast cancer research and training program involving a network of physicians and facilities in Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Haiti, Barbados, and Canada. This program has focused on studying triple negative breast cancer in women with African ancestry. Her Komen Scholar grant will study triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes in diverse populations. Dr. Newman’s leadership is creating a new research field of anthropologic oncology, which can define root causes of breast tumor progression based upon the study of population migration patterns and reproductive history.

The frustration I felt many times during my medical training for not being able to do enough for patients was one of the main driving forces that directed me into cancer research and continues to be my main motivation.”

Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D., is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. She is also Principal Faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and is an Associate Member at The Broad Institute. Dr. Polyak’s laboratory is dedicated to improving the clinical management of breast cancer patients through understanding the drivers of breast tumor evolution. She has been at the forefront of studies analyzing mechanisms driving ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive breast cancer transition at the single-cell level and applying mathematical and ecological models to better understanding breast tumor evolution. Her work has shed light on tumor evolution in women carrying BRCA1/2 germline mutation as well as deciphered the large diversity of cells within a tumor (intratumor heterogeneity). Dr. Polyak never loses track of her goal of eradicating suffering from breast cancer and pushes her findings to the clinic, including the testing in clinical trials of the efficacy of Janus kinase (JAK) and bromodomain and extra-terminal proteins (BET) inhibitors for the treatment of breast cancer. Dr. Polyak’s Komen-funded research is focused on developing new molecular approaches to breast cancer risk prediction and prevention with a special focus on younger and high risk women.


Past SAB Members

Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D.
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX
SAB member 2012-2022

Melissa Bondy, Ph.D. 
Stanford Cancer Institute
Stanford, CA 
SAB member 2007-2010 
Komen Scholar 2010-2017

Myles Brown, M.D.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA
SAB member 2010-2020

Powel Brown, M.D., Ph.D.
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX
SAB member 2007-2017

Karen Gelmon, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
British Columbia Cancer Agency
Vancouver, Canada
Komen Scholar 2010-2012
Scientific Advisory Board 2012-2018

Cheryl Jernigan, C.P.A., F.A.C.H.E.
Komen Advocate in Science
Kansas City, MO
Komen Scholar 2010-2012
SAB Member 2012-2018

H. Kim Lyerly, M.D.
Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center
Durham, NC
Scientific Advisory Board 2007-2010
Komen Scholar 2010-2013

Amelie Ramirez, Dr.P.H.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
SAB member 2007-2017 (now a Komen Scholar)

George W Sledge, M.D.
Stanford University
Stanford, CA
SAB member 2007-2012
Chief Scientific Advisor 2012-2022

Saraswati Sukumar, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD
SAB member 2007-2010
Komen Scholar 2010-2013

Christina Tannous, Ph.D.
Komen Advocate in Science
Fountain Valley, CA
Scientific Advisory Board 2008-2012
Komen Scholar 2012-2013

Eric P. Winer, M.D.
Yale Cancer Center
New Haven, CT
Chief Scientific Advisor 2007-2018
SAB Past Chair Member 2018-2019