Get the latest news and updates from Susan G. Komen

Blog  |  Newsroom

Susan G. Komen Welcomes Five Leaders to New Research Advisory Roles

Advisors add research/patient perspectives in genetics, artificial intelligence and metastatic breast cancer

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today announced new advisory roles for five renowned leaders in breast cancer.  These women and men will join an esteemed group of breast cancer researchers, clinicians and advocates who help guide the organization’s work to save lives and end breast cancer, particularly through the organization’s $988 million research program – the largest nonprofit investment in research outside the U.S. government.

On April 1, Alan Ashworth, BSC, Ph.D., FRS, president of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, became the newest member of Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). As global leaders of research, clinical practice and patient advocacy, members of Komen’s SAB help guide the organization’s research programs and priorities.  A translational biologist and laboratory researcher, Dr. Ashworth brings valuable expertise in exploiting genetic deficiencies in cancer to develop new therapeutic approaches that will change the way patients are treated. He was a key part of the team that identified the BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility gene, which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer.  He previously served as a Komen Scholar since 2010.  

“Dr. Alan Ashworth brings exceptional strengths to the Komen Scientific Advisory Board. He is a talented leader whose pioneering work has been instrumental in the development of PARP inhibitors, drugs that show great promise in the treatment of breast, ovarian and other cancers among individuals who carry BRCA1/2 mutations,” 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, and Professor of Biochemistry and Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. 

“Dr. Ashworth’s career defines what it means to be a translational researcher, with work that integrates important genomic findings into the clinic. I can think of no finer addition to our board,” added Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, George Sledge, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

Komen also welcomes four new members to the Komen Scholars – an advisory group of distinguished leaders in breast cancer research and advocacy. The new class of Scholars includes two patient advocates who are also members of the Komen Advocates in Science Steering Committee.

Chosen for their knowledge, leadership and contributions to breast cancer research, Komen Scholars provide scientific expertise and guidance to a variety of Komen programs, including leading Komen’s scientific peer review process. They also serve as experts and advocates for Komen’s nationwide network of Affiliates and in communities around the globe.

The newest members of the Komen Scholars, effective April 1, are:

  • Regina Barzilay, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (breast cancer survivor, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, focused on bringing the power of machine learning/AI to oncology)
  • Cheryl Jernigan, C.P.A., Advocates in Science Steering Committee, Kansas City, MO (survivor, research advocacy)
  • Edith Perez, M.D., Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Florida (translational research, genetic biomarkers)
  • Sandra Spivey, M.B.A., Advocates in Science Steering Committee, Orange County, CA (living with metastatic breast cancer, research advocacy)

“We are excited to welcome such incredible, knowledgeable individuals to the Komen Scholars. Whether they bring experience from the laboratories, the clinic, or as patients themselves, these individuals are assets to our organization and to the work we are doing to achieve our Bold Goal of reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2026,” said Victoria Wolodzko, SVP, Mission at Komen.

The term of SAB member and Komen’s inaugural Chief Scientific Advisor Eric Winer, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs, Director, Breast Cancer Program; Thompson Chair in Breast Cancer Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, ended in March.  Dr. Winer has been devoted to applying the advances from clinical trials to daily practice to improve breast cancer patient care and quality of life.  He has served the organization for many years, creating a positive, lasting impact, and he will continue to partner with the organization through Komen’s research program.

“Komen is fortunate to have learned and benefited from the direction of Dr. Winer,” said Susan G. Komen CEO Paula Schneider.  “His leadership and expertise helped our research program evolve to focus not only on groundbreaking science, but on those questions that will make the biggest impact for patients. We can’t thank him enough for his contributions and continued support for Komen’s mission.”