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Susan G. Komen® Calls On Congress To Preserve Funding For The Department Of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Key to Driving Innovation

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, is calling on Congress to maintain its support for breast cancer research conducted through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) at the Department of Defense (DOD). Funding for this vital program is currently being debated in the Senate this week. Current proposals seek to authorize and fund the program at $150 million in the FY20 budget. 

“The DOD’s Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) is a vital part of the federal commitment to fighting cancer, focusing on truly cutting-edge discoveries,” said Victoria Wolodzko, Komen’s SVP of Mission.  “This program is unique among federal research programs in that it challenges scientists to pursue high-risk, high-reward research and explore new paradigms that are the hallmark of innovation.” 

The BCRP has invested in research to better understand how and why breast cancer begins to grow, factors that increase risk and more advanced ways to detect and treat the disease, including innovative treatments that are both more effective and less toxic for the patient. Last Fiscal Year, this program was only able to fund 10 percent of the proposals submitted.

Susan G. Komen supported the creation of this program and continues to regularly collaborate with the program by providing trained patient advocates to participate in the peer-review of grant proposals.  Earlier this month, several Komen patient advocates participated in the program’s peer review process.  By including the patient voice in the review process, we are able to help ensure that the impact on patients is always considered and that grants approved for funding will make the biggest impact on extending life and improving the quality of life.

“For 25 years the DOD Breast Cancer Research Program has focused on new emerging ideas for treatment and early detection of breast cancer, providing faster access to vital funds than other government research programs,” said Peggy Johnson, a Susan G. Komen patient Advocate in Science who recently participated in the program’s peer review process. “This program is unique in its use of consumer (patient) reviewers, those directly affect by the diseases. The program’s continued use of breast cancer survivors as consumer reviewers with equal say in which applications move forward makes this program especially vital.”

Research proposals for the program currently must address important challenges, such as how to distinguish between deadly and non-deadly breast cancers, what drives breast cancer growth and how to stop it, why some cancers become metastatic (meaning the spread to other parts of the body and become deadly), and how to prevent deadly recurrence, among other topics.