Get the latest news and updates from Susan G. Komen

Blog  |  Newsroom

Susan G. Komen® Recognizes Renowed Investigators As 2019 Recipients Of Brinker Awards For Scientific Distinction

Leaders in Cancer Biology, Genomics and Targeted Therapies Shaped Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

Today, a widely respected breast cancer research team and a prolific breast cancer clinician researcher join the ranks of an esteemed group of scientists as recipients of this year’s Brinker Awards – the highest scientific honor awarded by Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization.

Established by Komen in 1992, the prestigious Brinker Awards for Scientific Distinction recognize advances in both our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of breast cancer (Basic Science) – and the clinical setting (Clinical Research), which are both essential to combating the disease.

This year’s Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science will be presented to Jane Visvader, Ph.D., and Geoffrey Lindeman, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., Joint Heads of the Cancer Biology and Stem Cells Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), in Melbourne, Australia.

Drs. Visvader and Lindeman have made significant contributions to our understanding of how normal and cancerous cells develop in the breast. Their research has resulted in critical insights about the regulation of normal breast cell growth and breast cancer initiation and progression, including the identification of breast stem cells that give rise to normal breast tissue and the breast cells that are predisposed to becoming cancerous in women with BRCA1 gene mutations. Spurred by their unremitting drive for clinical impact, their work has contributed to the foundation for clinical studies of new strategies to treat and prevent breast cancer.

“We are excited to honor Drs. Visvader and Lindeman with this distinction. The quintessential basic science performed by this team has provided seminal knowledge to the field regarding mammary gland stem cell biology.  Their discoveries and experimental models are being used for the design of strategies to treat and prevent breast cancer,” said Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Molecular Oncology.

This year’s Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Clinical Research will be presented to Matthew J. Ellis, B.Sc., M.B., B.Chir., Ph.D., FRCP, Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Biology, Director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, and Associate Director for Translational Research at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine. 

Dr. Ellis is being honored for seminal contributions in understanding the genomics of breast cancer and translating this knowledge to the clinic to improve the efficacy of breast cancer treatment. His work to define the genomic landscape of breast cancer, drug resistance mechanisms and biomarkers for breast cancer prognosis, coupled with his pioneering research in the pre-surgical treatment of breast cancer, has resulted in significant advances that are paving the way for more personalized treatments for breast cancer.

“Dr. Ellis is one of the great translational researchers of our time in breast cancer.  His studies of the biology of breast cancer performed in the neoadjuvant setting have changed our understanding of the hormonal therapy of breast cancer,” said Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Dr. George Sledge, Jr. M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University. 

The 2019 Brinker Award winners will deliver keynote lectures at the 42nd annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and will be honored at an awards ceremony. 

Advancing breast cancer research has been a priority for Komen since opening its doors in 1982. To date, Komen has invested more than $1 billion in breast cancer research and is the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research outside of the U.S. government.

About Susan G. Komen®

Susan G. Komen® is the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has an unmatched, comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide. We advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information. Founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life, Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures. Visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at